Reviewed: Michael Dransfield, 1948-1973
Biographical note: Michael Dransfield (1948-73) was born and grew up in Sydney. He attended Sydney Grammar school and (briefly) the University of Sydney, and worked for a while in the Australian Taxation Department as a clerk before drifting into the counter-culture and adopting the role of wandering minstrel. He was a prolific writer of lyrical poems which gained wide attention early, and which later in his brief career came to focus more and more on drug experiences.
After injecting an unknown substance (heroin?) into his jugular vein, he became unconscious and fell into a coma that lasted a month; he finally died in Mater Hospital in Sydney on 20 April 1973. He was in his mid-twenties, and he died before his talent had fully matured, leaving behind close to a thousand poems.
His first book was Streets of the Long Voyage (UQP, 1970). His Collected Poems (UQP, 1987) was edited by Rodney Hall, who as poetry editor of The Australian newspaper had been among the first to publish Dransfield’s poetry —
[»»] 1987 Collected Poems, by Michael Dransfield, edited by Rodney Hall, University of Queensland Press, paperback, $14:95. First published in the Weekend Australian 21–22 November 1987. This piece is 800 words or about two printed pages long.
[»»] Sydney City Coroner’s report on Michael Dransfield’s death, from the Sunday Mirror, June, 1973.
[»»] ‘The Poetry Explosion’ — Virginia Osborne introduces six talented young Sydney poets, Vogue Australia, April 1971 (Robert Adamson, John Tranter, Michael Dransfield, Martin Johnston, Terry Larsen, and Peter Skrzynecki.)
[»»] John Tranter: Two Poems for Michael Dransfield.
[»»] A photo and a map of Michael’s loft flat.