Tranter, John Ernest 1943-

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TRANTER, John Ernest 1943-

PERSONAL: Born April 29, 1943, in Cooma, Australia; son of Frederick (a teacher) and A. K. Tranter; married, 1968; wife's name Lynette (a typesetter and graphic artist); children: Kirsten, Leon. Education: University of Sydney, B.A., 1970; studied at Australian Centre for Photography, 1982.

ADDRESSES: Home—c/o Literature Board, Australia Council, P.O. Box 788, Strawberry Hills, New South Wales 2012, Australia.

CAREER: Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, Australia, darkroom technician, 1967-68; Angus & Robertson Publishers, Singapore, senior editor in education division, 1971-73; Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, Australia, script editor in radio drama and features department, 1970-74, radio scriptwriter, 1974-80, radio drama and features producer, 1975, in charge of radio drama and features production for Queensland in Brisbane, 1976-77; subeditor for Special Broadcasting Service Multicultural Television, 1981-86, coordinator of Radio Helicon (arts program), 1987-88; Transit Poetry, Sydney, publisher and editor of Transit, 1980—; Bulletin, poetry editor, 1990-93. Creative writing teacher at Sydney College of the Arts; writer in residence, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, 1992, and Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, 2001. Guest lecturer at University of Sydney, Macquarie University, Canberra College of Advanced Education, 1982, Australian National University, and New South Wales Institute of Technology, 1982-83. Visiting fellow, Australian National University, 1981. With wife, owns and operates literary agency Australian Literary Management.

AWARDS, HONORS: Senior fellowships, Literature Board of Australia Council, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1982; Kenneth Slessor Prize, New South Wales State Literary Award for Poetry, 1989, for Under Berlin, 2002, for Ultra; Australian Artists Creative fellowship.


The Livin' Is Easy, Oldbourne (London, England), 1964.

Parallax and Other Poems, South Head Press (Sydney, Australia), 1970.

Red Movie and Other Poems, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1972.

The Blast Area (poems), Makar Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1974.

Looking for Hunter (radio play), 1974.

Le Morte d'Arthur (radio play; based on the work by Thomas Malory), 1974.

Knight-Prisoner: The Life of Sir Thomas Malory (radio play), 1974.

The Alphabet Murders: Notes from a Work in Progress (poems), Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1975.

Sideshow People (radio play), 1976.

The Poetry of Frank O'Hara (radio script), c. 1976.

Crying in Early Infancy: One Hundred Sonnets (poems), Makar (Brisbane, Australia), 1977.

Dazed in the Ladies Lounge (poems), Island Press (Sydney, Australia), 1979.

(Editor) The New Australian Poetry, Makar (Brisbane, Australia), 1979.

Selected Poems, Hale & Iremonger (Sydney, Australia), 1982.

Gloria (poems), privately printed, 1986.

(Editor) The Tin Wash Dish, ABC Books (Sydney, Australia), 1988.

Under Berlin: New Poems 1988, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1988.

(Editor, with Philip Mead) The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1991.

Days in the Capital (poems), National Library of Australia (Canberra, Australia), 1992.

The Floor of Heaven (poems), Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1992.

(Editor) Martin Johnston: Selected Poems and Prose, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1993.

At the Florida (poems), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1993.

(Editor) Martin Johnson: Selected Poems and Prose, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1993.

(Editor, with Philip Mead) The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Australian Poetry, Bloodaxe Books (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England), 1994.

Gasoline Kisses, Equipage (Cambridge, England), 1997.

Different Hands: Seven Stories, Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre Press (South Fremantle, Australia), 1998.

Late Night Radio, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1998.

Ultra, Brandl & Schlesinger (Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Heart Print, Salt Publishing (Cambridge, England), 2001.

Contributor of about thirty articles and reviews to magazines and newspapers, including the Australian and Age. Associate editor of Aspect; past member of editorial boards of New Poetry and Poetry Australia. Publisher and editor of online poetry quarterly Jacket Magazine, 1997—.

SIDELIGHTS: Australian poet John Tranter told CA: "The two strongest influences on my work have been those of Rimbaud and T. S. Eliot, in their emphasis on both formal experiment and the reconstruction of intense personal experience. The cool welcome given to such ideas in the backward-looking Australian literary world is perhaps responsible for the note of melancholy evident in my later work. My current hobby is an interest in the question: 'Is there life after post-modernism?'"

Tranter was also influenced by later poets such as Frank O'Hara and Ted Berrigan, as his own work moved away from romanticism to a more elegant, stripped-down style. He contends that a poet must write poetry for ten years before he can call himself a poet, and believes that creative writing classes are anathema to the true art of poetry. In an interview with C. K. Tower in Riding the Meridian, Tranter said, "My ideal writing school would overload and torment the students so badly that only one or two out of every hundred would put up with it for the ten years it takes to learn to be a poet. They would end up with their degrees, but they would have to take an oath inscribed and signed in their own blood never to teach creative writing."

One of Tranter's pet projects is his online poetry magazine, Jacket. Citing the Internet as the medium of the future, Tranter sees it as a solution to the most difficult problem facing poetry magazines, that of distribution. Tranter publishes Jacket quarterly, pulling together contributions from poets all over the world and providing free access to their work. He hopes that it will provide creative connections for a fragmented writing community.



Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), November 24, 2001, Simon Patton, "The Poet As Saviour of the People," p. M5.

Makar, December, 1976.

Observer (London, England), April 1, 1979.

Publishers Weekly, March 18, 2002, "Heart Print," p. 93.

Time International, April 23, 2001, "Free Verse: From His Sydney Study, Poet John Tranter Broadcasts to the Literary World," p. 14.

Times Literary Supplement, August 6, 1999, p. 25.

Weekend Australian, October 13, 2001, Barry Hill, "So Tragically Hip, Dad," p. R14.


Jacket Magazine, (May 16, 2003).

John Tranter Homepage, (May 16, 2003).

Riding the Meridian, (May 16, 2003).*