Vale, Bruce Dawe

USQ mourns one of Australia’s greats with the passing of poet and former academic staff member Emeritus Professor Bruce Dawe AO.

Loved across the country for his award-winning work, including books of poetry, short stories and essays, many considered Bruce Dawe to be Australia’s foremost poet of the century.

The USQ community, staff and alumni have reflected on the life of the beloved former colleague and mentor.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said Bruce Dawe was a legend that left behind a legacy of excellence and passion for the arts.

“His contribution to Australian literature is undeniable, and USQ witnessed this dedication first hand,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“In addition to his many great works, he helped to shape the future of so many of our alumni during his 20 year tenure as a USQ academic.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the many people whose lives he touched during his amazing life.”

Bruce Dawe joined USQ as a Lecturer in 1971 when it was known as at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE). He became a Senior Lecturer in 1980 and an Associate Professor following the status change to the University of Southern Queensland.

Instrumental to the University’s history, he received its inaugural award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988.

USQ Chancellor John Dornbusch said he was lucky enough to have Bruce Dawe as a lecturer in the 1970s.

“He was a great bloke and a proud Australian, with such a sharp intellect,” Mr Dornbusch said.

“Many column inches can and will be written about the extraordinary poems he gifted us.

“There is both a sadness and a beauty in the fact that USQ’s prestigious annual Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize is currently open for entries.

“More than ever, this competition is an opportunity to honour his legacy, and reflect on the power of words to provide comfort, clarity, and wisdom in times of trouble.”

Another one of Bruce Dawe’s students, USQ English and Cultural Studies Professor Laurie Johnson heads the judging panel of the ongoing competition.

“Bruce provided us with a reminder of the significance of poetry in the Australian psyche: a nation whose identity is wrapped up in the work of Lawson and Patterson, Oodgeroo and Wright, Murray and Dawe himself.

“His legacy will live on in the prize that bears his name and in the work of every schoolchild who finds out about Australia's past through ‘Drifters’ or ‘Homecoming’.”

Painting of man sitting at table
Bruce Dawe by Sven Roehrs (Fryer Library accession number 100528)