Before he was twenty, Alan Wearne was first published in The Age in 1968, with his poem ‘St. Bartholomew Remembers Jesus Christ as an Athlete’ which featured in his first verse collection Public Relations in 1972. In reviewing this book, nearly fifty years ago, Critic and Poet, R. A Simpson wrote ‘Alan Wearne has more than talent. He is already a gifted poet’.

See: Full biography (below)

BORN – Melbourne 1948 


Current since 2017University of Wollongong, Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities.
2015Fellowship of Australian Writers.  Christopher Brennan Award. 
2015Kingston University, London, UK. Visiting Professorship.
2009Australia Council for the Arts. Residency, B R Whiting Studio, Rome.
2006University of Calgary, Canada. Exchange Teaching Fellowship. 
2000-2002Curtin University, Western Australia. Research/Teaching Fellowship.
1987Australia Council for the Arts. Paris Cite Internationale des Artes. Residency.
1977Deakin University, Melbourne. Diploma of Education.
1973La Trobe University, Melbourne. Bachelor of Arts (History Major).


The Lovemakers: BOOK ONE Saying All the great sexy things

NSW Premier’s Prize, Book of the Year, 2002.  

Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, 2002.  

Arts Queensland Judith Wright Calanthe Award for Australian Poetry, 2002. 

The Lovemakers: 
BOOK TWO Money and nothing 

Colin Roderick Award for Australian Literature, 2005.   

H.T. Priestly Memorial Medal, 2005, from the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies at James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland.

The Australian Popular Songbook  

Grace Leven Prize for Poetry, 2008. 

The Nightmarkets 

National Book Council Banjo Award, 1987.    

Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, 1987. 


Alan Wearne has been part of Australian poetry since 1967 and is the author of six verse collections, a verse novella, two verse novels and Kicking in Danger (1997) a satire on Melbourne and its football. His first two volumes were Public Relations (1972) and New Devil, New Parish (1976) this work containing his verse novella Out Here subsequently published in Britain in 1987 by Bloodaxe Books. His first verse novel The Nightmarkets, (1986) won the National Book Council Banjo Award. The first volume of his verse novel, The Lovemakers (2001) won the NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry, the NSW Premier’s Prize Book of the Year and the Arts Queensland Judith Wright Calanthe Award. The Lovemakers Book Two (2004) co-won the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies’ Colin Roderick Award and H.T. Priestley Medal. The Lovemakers has since been published in one volume in Britain in 2008 by Shearsman Books. His most recent books are The Australian Popular Songbook (2008) which won the Grace Leven Prize, Prepare the Cabin for Landing (2012) These Things are Real (2017) and Near Believing (2022) a selection of his monologues and narratives from 1967 to 2021. After teaching TAFE courses in Melbourne, Alan Wearne taught poetry at the University of Wollongong for eighteen and a half years where he founded the publishing firm, Grand Parade Poets and edited The Best Australian Poetry (2009) and With the Youngsters (2017) a collection of group sestinas and group villanelles.  Although having lived in the Illawarra and now in the Fremantle area Alan has always considered himself a Melbourne poet. 

He writes:

“I am an elitist and I am an entertainer. From an early age I was very taken with the idea of not only listening to stories but also telling them. Moreover, I wanted to learn to read and write and certainly acquired the rudiments before I attended school. I was also quite attracted from well before literacy to devices such as alliteration, rhythm and probably rhyme; though actual poetry doubtless came later. 

I can mark a number of major events involving poetry and teachers. My 3rd grade teacher Elaine Pascoe encouraged me to read my work to the class (well I had to start somewhere!). My 6th Grade teacher Alan Kavanagh had enough ‘art’ in him to announce that a poem needn’t rhyme. The next day he brought in and read, with some kind of introduction, Tennyson’s ‘Morte d’Arthur’ (or at least extracts from it). In 4th Form a solid line-by-line explication of Keat’s ‘Ode To Autumn’ by the flamboyant, witty Noel Maggs still remains the basis of my appreciation of that poem. My combative relations with 6th Form’s Bernadette Taylor (she won) certainly helped turn my undoubted enthusiasms into coherent prose. A brilliant teacher she told me my essays should be as tight and focused as a sonnet. I wrote her a sonnet and eventually applied the lessons learnt to prose. 

Even now my knowledge and appreciation of poetry and literature is that of a more sophisticated and much matured, very bright sixth-former. Did something stall? Well not my own poetry of course but I could never get to grips with English Department English, its memory being one of recurring disappointments even though I am very glad to have encountered Bleak House, The Changeling, George Herbert, Moby Dick, The Portrait of a Lady and Wallace Stevens. Criticism tended to leave me shrugging (if I ever understood it, which wasn’t often). I can grasp very basic Literary Theory only when, as in most philosophies, someone entertains me with a very broad brush-stroke explanation, though ten minutes later I cannot possibly recount what I have heard. I should have studied more Politics but was consoled with plenty of History, my one major intellectual interest. It still is, for somehow if perversely there is much more room for my imagination.  

Enough has been written about the so called ‘Poetry Wars’ of the 60s, 70s and 80s, when I and the so-called Generation of ‘68 apparently slogged it out with our foes in various magazines and anthologies. For all the legendary brouhaha that emerged it may as well have happened one night at a single party (and perhaps that’s how the eventual movie will see it).  If some of us played for different teams (and still may), remember the operative words are “play” and “teams”. We are still all part of some all-purpose Australian poetry experiment. My major contribution to this mayhem still remains narrative verse, and often the verse novel/novella variant, this still being a rather risky venture. For apart from the four great examples from the 19th Century: Don Juan, Amours De Voyages, Modern Love and The Ring and the Book, none in English have yet to survive two or three generations. Could it be that our descendants will regard the verse novels of the past decades in the same way we regard 19th Century verse drama? The jury is still out, indeed the jury probably hasn’t begun to sit. There are plenty of my contemporaries and our younger friends now taking over, whom I would love to have readers for in 2122. If it’s chilling to know that we’ll probably never know, the poets of those days hence will doubtless be faced with the same unsolvable dilemma.” 


Alan Wearne was born in Elsternwick in 1948 and grew up in Blackburn. He attended Monash University, where he was central to the vibrant poetry reading scene there. Wearne has worked at various jobs, and from 1998 until 2016 he lectured in creative writing at the University of Wollongong. A member of the ‘Generation of ’68’ group of poets, Wearne is best known for his verse narratives: ‘Out Here’ (originally published in New Devil, New Parish [1976], and republished separately in the U.K. in 1987), The Nightmarkets (1986), and the two-volume The Lovemakers (2001/2004). These latter two works (especially the 14 500-line The Lovemakers) are notable for their scale. Each presents diffuse and interconnected narratives through numerous vernacular dramatic monologues. Wearne’s tour-de-force use of verse forms shows an impressive skill in combining the formalist with the apparently realist. ‘Out Here’, like Wearne’s subsequent works, also shows an interest in suburban realities, which Wearne presents using both satire and pathos. As Michael Heyward writes in the 1987 edition, this combination represents a ‘compassionate critique’. The same could be said of many of the characterisations in The Nightmarkets, which is largely concerned with a generation of 1970s radicals coming to terms with changing times. The Lovemakers, which is even harder to characterise than The Nightmarkets, widens the milieu to include suburban characters, urban professionals, and members of an urban criminal underclass. Wearne’s ability to present the different jargons and languages of these characters shows a major thematic interest in the relationship between language, power and reality. As Christopher Pollnitz writes in the Dictionary of Literary Biography (2006), ‘The Lovemakers is at once ambitious, literary modernist fiction and antiliterary iconoclastic, postmodern poem—a verse novel engaged in brinkmanship with the unsolved contradictions of the genre’.