An Australian-born poet who lived much of his life in Great Britain, Peter Porter stands among the greats in the pantheon of 20th and 21st century Australian literature. Enviably intellectual, Porter's interests ranged from history to philosophy through to art and the stylistics of poetry. No doubt, then, that his poetry is sophisticated, thoughtful and incorporates an extraordinary range of allusion and reference to periods of history, works of art and such like.
The author of more than 20 poetry collections, responsible for editing more than 20 collections of the work of other poets and the composer of scores and libretti too, Porter's ability to assimilate new ideas and reinvent and challenge stereotype is hard to find in many poets of his generation. In his lifetime, his genius was rightly recognized; the recipient of the Whitbread Poetry Award in 1988 for 'Automatic Oracle', the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize in 2002 for his collection 'Max is Missing', and the recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry also in 2002, one of the most prestigious awards on offer to poets. Arguably the cherry on top of the cake, Porter was made one of the Royal Society of Literature's Companion of Literature, making him one of just 10 living writers to be invited to join the exclusive group, whose members include playwright Sir Tom Stoppard and Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul.
Ranging from the satirical to the elegiac and meditative, Peter Porter's verse stands out for its versatility. Though he died of liver cancer in 2010, his influence on how poetry is written and how it is appreciated as a literary form mean his own verse will continue to be read and enjoyed for decades to come.