Vale Les Murray

This month, instead of telling you about the incredible program being released, the unique opportunity to eat with Maggie Beer, or the chance to hear from authors such as Helen Garner and David Marr, we take a moment to reflect on the impact that this festival has had on one particular man, and the impact this man had on us.

Les Murray OAM was a patron, friend, and long time supporter of the Mildura Writers Festival. His passing on April 29 is felt deeply by the Mildura Writers Festival and Arts Mildura community. Our thoughts and care go out to the Murray family in this time of mourning.

The loss of Les Murray is sorrowful and grievous. It’s like a river drying up—the landscape will never be the same. There should be keening throughout the land, for it has lost a champion, one of its own. Australia found a home in Les Murray’s verse.

Les was the custodian of an immense talent that gave joy to many people around the globe. He had a gift and he knew how to give it to others.

We would be right in saying it is the end of an era because Les was himself an era: there was no one like him and of course there will be no one like him again. But by now encomiums are beside the point; his poems will live on long after we are gone. They are like a vessel launched into the future.

As a friend of thirty-five years I feel the loss acutely. We visited each other’s homes many times and did events together in New York and Australia. But our bond was poetry and we lived in its light. That so much of that light fell on him is a cause for rejoicing, so perhaps, when grief has subsided, we will once again celebrate Les in thanks for his gift.

Paul Kane, Artistic Director, Mildura Writers Festival