Subhuman Redneck Poems

Les Murray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

112 Pages



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Winner of the 1996 T. S. Eliot Prize for the Best Book of Poetry in English

Joseph Brodsky once said of Les Murray: "He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives." In these darkly funny and deeply observant Subhuman Redneck Poems, farmers, fathers, poverty-stricken pioneers, and people blackened by the grist of sugar mills are exposed to the blazing midday sun of Murray's linguistic powers. Richly inventive, tenderly detailed, and fiercely honest, these poems both surprise and expose the human in all of us.


Praise for Subhuman Redneck Poems

"[Murray is a] prolific and award-winning Australian poet [who] writes with the gusto of an ox-herder. This volume, with its catchy title, is marked by the enthusiasms of a nationalist, post-colonial leader who sometimes deploys the humor and robustness characteristic of much of Murray's work."—Publishers Weekly

"Comedy high and low, fireworks, and anger combine in a tough, almost burly, music to make these poems of Les Murray quite memorable. He has developed a lyric style of admirable density."—Anthony Hecht

"[Murray] has written better, funnier, truer, and kinder poems about the poor, the oddball, the marginalized, and the overlooked than most of the progressives who moralize in free verse and look askance at his increasingly skeptical view of Leftist politics."—William Scammell, The Independent on Sunday (London)

"Praising Les Murray is as hard as praising Seamus Heaney: the language has all been used up . . . [This is] a capacious, generous book, written in Murray's powerfully distinctive style: he has developed a line which is as tough as it needs to be, but flexible enough to wind round whatever he catches in the big net of his imagination."—Andrew Motion

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Les Murray

  • The widely acclaimed Australian poet Les Murray lives and writes on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, where he was born in 1938. His books include Dog Fox Field, Translations from the Natural World, Subhuman Redneck Poems, Fredy Neptune: A Novel in Verse, Learning Human: Selected Poems, Conscious and Verbal, and Poems the Size of Photographs. In 1998, Murray was awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry presented by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Les Murray Copyright Peter Solness
    Les Murray