Biography ~ theatre notes


Born in 1962, Alison Croggon is one of a generation of Australian poets which emerged in the 1990s. She writes in many genres, including criticism, theatre and prose.

The Australian Book Review described her as "one of the most powerful lyric poets writing today." Her poetry has been widely published in journals both in Australia and overseas, and is included in many major Australian anthologies. Her most recent poetry collection 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. 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.

Since 2000, 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 spent six months as the Australia Council Writer in Residence at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015 she was invited by the Centre National des Écritures du Spectacle, as part of the Odyssée-ACCR Program in the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, for a month long residency at La Chartreuse de Villeneuve lez Avignon.

Alison Croggon is also the author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy quartet, The Books of Pellinor. The first volume, The Gift, 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 US edition, The Naming, was judged a Top Ten Teen Read of 2005 by the editors of The series has since been released to critical and popular acclaim in the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland, and to date has sold more than a half a million copies in the UK and US alone. Audio versions have been released in Australia, Britain, Germany and the US. Her most recently published fantasy novel is Black Spring, released in 2012/14 in Australia, the UK, the US and Germany. It was a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book of 2013 and shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature in the 2014 NSW Premiers Literary Awards.

A new novel, The River and The Book, is released in late 2015 with Walker Books UK and Australia, and 2016 will see the international release of a new Books of Pellinor prequel, The Bone Queen.

Alison's theatre writing includes several opera libretti. In 2014 three operas were performed: Mayakovsky, score by Michael Smetanin (Sydney Chamber Opera), The Riders, score by Iain Grandage (Victorian Opera/Malthouse Theatre) and Flood, score by Gerardo Dirie (Queensland Conservatorium of Griffith University, Brisbane Festival). The Riders and Mayakovsky played to sell-out houses, and The Riders was named Choral/Vocal Work of the Year in the 2015 Art Musix Awards. It was nominated for four Green Room Awards and won two, including Best New Australian Opera. The libretto for Mayakovsky was shortlisted for the Drama prize in the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.

Also with Michael Smetanin, she wrote Gauguin (Chamber Made Opera, Melbourne Festival 2000) and The Burrow (WA Opera/Song Company, Perth Festival, Sydney, 1994; Chamber Made Opera, Melbourne 1995; and broadcast by ABC Radio). Her performed plays include Lenz (Mene Mene Theatre Company, 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 (music by Alan John) for Confidentially Yours (Playbox Theatre 1998, Hong Kong Festival 1999). she co-wrote a music theatre work for young adults, Night Songs, with her husband Daniel Keene and composer Andreé Greenwell for Bell Shakespeare's Mind's Eye.

Many of her poems have been set to music by various composers, including Smetanin (Skinless Kiss of Angels, Elision New Music Ensemble), Christine McCombe (To The Wider Ocean, Salford Sonic Fusion, Manchester UK 2015), Margaret Legge-Wilkinson (Canberra New Music Ensemble) and Andreé Greenwell (Villainelles), Gothic Seymour Centre, Vivid Live, Sydney 2015).

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 was Melbourne theatre critic for the national daily newspaper, The Australian, until 2010, and Melbourne critic for the national weekly news magazine The Bulletin from 1989-1992. In 2009, she was named Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year. Since 2013, she has been theatre critic at large for ABC Arts Online.

More information on her work is available at her home page.

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