Biography of Alison Croggon
Alison Croggon (born 1962) is a contemporary Australian poet, playwright, fantasy novelist, and librettist.
Born in the Transvaal, South Africa, Alison Croggon's family moved to England before settling in Australia, first in Ballarat then Melbourne. She has worked as a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald. Her first volume of poetry, This is the Stone, won the Anne Elder Award and the Mary Gilmore Prize. Her novella Navigatio was recommended in the 1995 The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and all four novels of the fantasy genre series Pellinor have been published. She also edits the online writing magazine Masthead and writes theatre criticism.
Croggon has also written libretti for Michael Smetanin's operas Gauguin and The Burrow which premiered respectively at the 2000 Melbourne Festival and Perth Festival, produced by ChamberMade. Other poems by her have been set to music by Smetanin, Christine McCombe, Margaret Legge-Wilkinson and Andrée Greenwell. Her plays have been produced by the Melbourne Festival, The Red Shed Company (Adelaide) and ABC Radio.
Her poetry has been published widely in anthologies and magazines in Australia and overseas. Her most recent poetry publication is Theatre (Salt Publishing 2008). Other titles include Ash (Cusp Books, Los Angeles 2007); November Burning (Vagabond Press Rare Objects Series, Sydney, 2004); Mnemosyne, (Wild Honey Press, Ireland, 2001); The Common Flesh (New and Selected Poems) (Arc Publications, UK, 2003) and Attempts at Being, (Salt Publishing, UK, 2002).
Her first book of poems, This is the Stone, won the 1991 Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore Prizes. Her novel Navigatio, published by Black Pepper Press, was highly commended in the 1995 Australian/Vogel literary awards and is being translated for publication in France. Her second book of poems, The Blue Gate, was released in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Poetry Prize. Attempts at Being was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and also was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US.
She has toured frequently in the UK and the US, among other things reading at the Poetry International Festival at Royal Festival Hall in London, the Soundeye International Poetry Festival in Cork, and the New Writing symposium at the University of East Anglia. In 2000 she was the Australia Council Writer in Residence at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (UK).
Alison Croggon is also the author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy quartet, The Books of Pellinor. The first volume was nominated in two categories in the Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction in December 2002 and named one of the Notable Books of 2003 by the Children's Book Council of Australia. The series has since been released to critical and popular acclaim in the US the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland. The audio edition is in preparation for the US and Australia/New Zealand.
Alison has to date written and had performed nine works for theatre. Her theatre work includes the operas Gauguin (Melbourne Festival 2000) and The Burrow (Perth Festival, Sydney, Melbourne 1994-95 and broadcast by ABC Radio), both with Michael Smetanin. Her performed plays include Lenz (Melbourne Festival 1996), Samarkand and The Famine (Rules of Thumb season, Red Shed Company, Adelaide 1997 and ABC Radio 1998), Blue (CIA, La Mama, Melbourne and the Street Theatre, Canberra, 2001). ABC Radio commissions include Monologues for an Apocalypse (2001) and Specula (2006). She also wrote lyrics for Confidentially Yours (Playbox Theatre 1998, Hong Kong Festival 1999).
Many of her poems have been set to music by various composers, including Smetanin (Skinless Kiss of Angels, Elision New Music Emsemble), Christine McCombe and Margaret Legge-Wilkinson (Canberra New Music Ensemble) and most recently Andreé Greenwell.
She was a member of of the 2005 and 2006 Artistic Counsels for the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, and in 2009 was one of the members of the Arts Stream for the Australia 2020 Summit. She was poetry editor for Overland Extra (1992), Modern Writing (1992-1994) and Voices (1996) and is founding editor of the literary arts journal Masthead.
She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
Alison Croggon's Works:
This is the Stone. Penguin Books Australia. 1991.
The Blue Gate. Black Pepper Press. 1997
Mnemosyne. Wild Honey Press. 2001
Attempts at Being. Salt Publishing. 2002
The Common Flesh: Poems 1980-2002. Arc. 2003
November Burning. Vagabond. 2004.
Navigatio. Black Pepper. 1996
The Gift. Penguin. 2003 (Published in the US as The Naming (Candlewick Press)
The Riddle. Penguin. 2004
The Crow. Penguin. 2006
The Singing. Penguin. 2008
(1995) The Burrow
(2000) Gauguin (a synthetic life)
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Alison Croggon Poems
Goodnight, sweet prince...
Such possessions as gore me pontificate from corners. I am no longer solid but a speech of butterflies. How it spills, when all is said and done: It is hard to see virtue in the cold matter
The Duino Elegies: The Tenth Elegy
Sometime, leaving this violent vision, I’ll sing up joy and glory to assenting angels. Let none of the clearstruck hammers of my heart fail against softening, uncertain or
The Duino Elegies: The Third Elegy
One thing to sing the beloved. Another, alas, that hidden guilty rivergod of blood. Her distantly known boy, her lover, what does he know of the lords of lust, who often, out of his loneliness,
Love: after The Triumph of Death
Love may not exist, it may be only a word, it may do nothing useful. To erase love is easy, it forgets itself, its weapons
The Branch (translation)
Branch I pick up from the edge of the woods Only to abandon you at the world’s end, Hidden among stones, in the shelter Where the other path invisibly begins
The Duino Elegies: The First Elegy
Who, if I cry, hears me among the angelic orders? and even supposing one of them seized me suddenly to his heart: I’d vanish in his violent presence. For beauty is nothing
The Duino Elegies: The Second Elegy
Every angel is terrible. And yet, alas, when I hear of you, deadly birds of the soul, I desire you. How long since the days of Tobias, when one of the radiant would stand at the plain front door,
The Duino Elegies: The Fourth Elegy
O trees of life, where’s winter? We are not one. Are not intelligent as flocking birds. Outstripped and late, we hurl ourselves into sudden winds
The Duino Elegies: The Fifth Elegy
But who are they, tell me, these vagrants, a little more fugitive even than us, in their springtime so urgently wrung by one who - who pleases a never contented will? So it wrings them,
The Duino Elegies: The Seventh Elegy
Woo no more, no wooing, outgrowing voice, be your natural cry; your cry pure as the bird when the heightening seasons lift him up, almost forgetting that he is a pitiable animal and not just a single heart
The Duino Elegies: The Eigth Elegy
With all its eyes the creaturely sees the open. But our eyes are as if reversed and placed all round it like snares ringing its free departure.
The Duino Elegies: The Ninth Elegy
Why, when it approaches, the interval of life surges forward, as laurel, a little darker than all other green, with tiny waves on every leaf edge (like a smiling wind) -: why then
In the hour of dogs
in the hour of dogs every human voice is hushed
Homage to Mr. Pound
victory sweetened not your crimes you lived enough lives to witness the betrayal of beauty which was difficult
In the hour of dogs
in the hour of dogs
every human voice
night is our scavenge
us and the watchboots
no stranger dares
we prowl as kings