Brief Life

Published : Monday, August 27, 2007

Mark Tredinnick, winner of the Montreal Poetry Prize (2011) and the Cardiff Poetry Prize (2012), is the author of The Blue Plateau, Fire Diary, and nine other acclaimed works of poetry and prose. He lives in the highlands southwest of Sydney, Australia.

Mark Tredinnick is “one of our great poets of place—not just of geographic place, but of the spiritual and moral landscapes as well,” according to Judith Beveridge. Of “Walking Underwater”, which won the Montreal Prize in 2011, Andrew Motion wrote: “This is a bold, big-thinking poem, in which ancient themes (especially the theme of our human relationship with landscape) are re-cast and re-kindled. It well deserves its eminence as a prize winner.”

“What I admire so much,” writes novelist Gregory Day, “about Fire Diary—beyond its (very uncool) delivery of wisdom into the ironic heart of contemporary poetry—is its personal vulnerability. For me, it’s a capacity, simultaneous with his geomorphological understanding, astute metrics and attention to imagistic detail, to love and cry on the page, to be embarrassed on the page… I sense a lack of fear behind the writing of these poems that perhaps, amongst other things, a musical ear and a private suffering can give you: it gives Mark access to his art, and a sense in it of him, living his own dedicated life, perhaps not his first life, and perhaps not even his second or third ("your new life is just your old life with a book in its hands,” he writes)—but therefore a life he has made himself, a poetry he has chosen and laid himself open to, with the inspiration of the earth...”

As well as The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir (which won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award) and Fire Diary (winner of the WA Premier’s Book Prize), Mark Tredinnick is the author of The Road South (poems on CD), The Little Green Grammar Book, The Little Red Writing Book (published outside Australia as Writing Well: the Essential Guide), The Land’s Wild Music , A Place on Earth, with Geoff Whyte, The Little Black Book of Business Writing, The Lyrebird (poems), and most recently Australia’s Wild Weather.

Here’s a brief description of Mark’s eleven books (as at January 2012); two more are coming this year. For more, go to “Writing” and click on “Books” in the menu.

. The Lyrebird, (Wagtail 106), Picaro, Newcastle, 2011
. Fire Diary, Puncher & Wattmann, Sydney, 2010
. The Road South, River Road Press, Sydney, 2008. CD

. Australia’s Wild Weather, (November 2011). A long essay on the nature of the weather, of Australian weather, and of who we are because of the weather we get. Accompanies a selection of photographs from
. The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir, UQP, Brisbane, and Milkweed, Minneapolis, 2009. Lyric nonfiction. Nature writing. “Really a long and very beautiful poem”, according to Judy Beveridge. My Pilgrim at Tinker Creek or The Meadow for the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2010); shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Prize (2010) and the ACT Book of the Year (2010).
. The Land’s Wild Music, Trinity, San Antonio, 2005. An ecocritic’s roadtrip through the landscape and writing of some lyric North Americannature writers: Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest Williams, and James Galvin.
. A Place on Earth (ed), UNSW Press, Sydney, 2003; U Nebraska Press, 2004. An anthology of US and Australian nature writing.

Books on Writing
. The Little Black Book of Business Writing, UNSW Press, 2010. The third in my series of books on the writing craft and life. I wrote this one with Geoff Whyte
. The Little Green Grammar Book, UNSW Press, 2008
. Writing Well: The Essential Guide, Cambridge, New York, 2008. The US/UK edition of The Little Red Writing Book.
. The Little Red Writing Book, UNSW Press, 2006

Coming Soon
. Body Copy (Puncher & Wattmann, March 2013). My second collection of new poems.
. Reading Slowly at the End of Time (New South Books, Cmid 2013). A memoir of the reading life and a defence of reading as a metaphor and practice of slow, mindful living.

Mark’s other honours include the Blake Poetry Prize, the Newcastle Poetry Prize (2007 and 2011), the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize (runner up), the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, the Calibre Essay Prize, and the Wildcare Nature Writing Prize. His work has been anthologised and published widely in Australian and the US journals. His poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems; his prose in The Best Australian Essays.

You can read about Mark’s poems and hear Mark reading some of them in the Poetry Archive:

Mark is now at work on a second book of poems, a novel and a memoir of the reading life and the the consolations of literature in a frantic age.

Mark’s work has appeared in The Best Australian Poems and The Best Australian Essays. His work is widely published in Australian and overseas newspapers and journals, including Australian Poetry, Blue Dog, Five Bells, Indigo, Island, Isotope, Kunapipi, Manoa, Mascara, Meanjin, Orion, PAN, Southerly, Snorkel, The Grove, The Sun-Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, Wet Ink, World Literature Today. He writes regularly for newspapers including The Australian, The Sun-Herald, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

In recent years, in addition to his own books, Mark has edited a number of collections of Australian writing, some of it with a landscape focus, each published as a special issue of a literary journal: Where Waters Meet (Manoa18:2, with Larissa Behrendt and Barry Lopez), Watermarks (Southerly 64:2, with Nicolette Stasko), and Being True to the Earth (PAN 4, with Kate Rigby). 

Mark talks and teaches widely on writing, landscape, justice and ecology. For over a decade he has run writing programs at the University of Sydney and at writers’ centres in Australia and the United States. He runs them these days, too, in his cowshed in Burradoo. He mentors aspiring writers, and now and then he edits a manuscript in need of help. He teaches grammar and composition, and he consults, on writing matters, with clients in business and government

For ten years, before all that, Mark was a book editor and publisher. Once upon a time he was a lawyer.

Mark holds a doctorate in literature and ecology, and in 2003 he co-founded ASLE-ANZ (the Association for the Study of Literature & Environment–ANZ).

With Deborah Bird Rose, Freya Mathews, Kate Rigby, Roland Hemmert and others, Mark has recently founded The Kangaloon Group—a fellowship of writers, artists an scholars in the eco-humanities. The group is dedicated, as a loose federation of artisans, artists and thinkers, to finding words and other artistic forms to celebrate beauty and engender hope and animate love in this time of climate change, impending ecological crisis and mass extinctions.

After a childhood and education had in suburban Sydney, Mark lived for many years in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, terrain he explores in The Blue Plateau and a number of his essays and poems. For a time he lived at Lavender Bay by Sydney Harbour and at Glebe and Annandale in the city’s inner west. He has travelled widely in the United States of America, and has written often about American literature and landscapes. Much of his work is published in the US; he has read at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Oregon and elsewhere. In March 2007, Mark moved with his young family to “Nettlebed”, a farmhouse near the Wingecarribee River, one hundred and twenty kilometers southwest of Sydney.