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Personal profile



Toby Davidson is an Australian poetry researcher, writer, facilitator and editor. His research interests include Australian, New Zealand, British, Irish and American literature, the public commemoration of writers and interactions between literature and Australian federal politics. He is especially interested in supervising MRes or PhD theses on Australian literature (including film) and poetry in any medium or form. He is a member of ASAL (Association for the Study of Australian Literature), AAALS (American Association of Australasian Literary Studies), CHE (Centre for the History of Emotions), the North Shore Poetry Project and the Australian Poetry Centre.

Toby's critical study Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry (2013) is the fifth book in the acclaimed Cambria Australian Literature Series. This unprecedented study of Australian Christian metaphysical poetics 1820-2010 as practiced by Ada Cambridge, John Shaw Neilson, Francis Webb, Judith Wright and Kevin Hart was praised by David Malouf as 'A study, at once comprehensive and finely discriminating ... [which] sets Australian poetry in an entirely new light.' It was shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) Walter McRae Russell Award for the best book of literary scholarship in the preceding two years.

Toby has convened two conferences for the Department of English, 'Modernisms and Modernities: Comparing Literary and Cultural Experiences' (with Hamburg and Fudan Universities, Shanghai 2017) and 'Australian Literature: The Road Ahead' (Macquarie 2013). In 2014, he was a keynote speaker at Victoria University's 'Truth or Beauty: Verse Biography' conference in Wellington, New Zealand. He was also the 2013-14 John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Visiting Scholar and invited speaker at the 2015 Prime Minister’s Seminar at Old Parliament House, Canberra. His transdisciplinary research into Prime Minister Curtin's lifelong engagement with Australian, British, European, Irish and American poetry is the subject of the forthcoming book Good for the Soul: John Curtin’s Life with Poetry (University of Western Australian Publishing). 

Toby is also the editor of Francis Webb Collected Poems (2011), which restored one of Australia's most acclaimed poets to print and into e-book format for the first time. This publication has been recommended by Copyright Australia Ltd (CAL) as one of their 'First 200' books to read in Australian literature. Toby continues to run the annual Francis Webb Poetry Reading with Willoughby Library Chatswood, a community event which brings together poets, scholars, artists and high school students from Webb's former schools St Pius X College and CBHS Lewisham to discuss and perform the works of this under-appreciated Australian postwar poet who wrote extensively of his Catholic faith and experiences of mental illness.  

Toby's research collaborations with the Department of Geography and Planning and the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies led to the creation of a GPS-mapped database of the public commemoration of writers in three Australian urban environments. Statues, plaques, writer's houses, literary walks, dedicated parks and innovative sculptural works were all GPS-located and photographed during two years of collaborative research and fieldwork which led to the December 2015 launch of Words in Place: A Digital Cartography of Australian Writers and Writing in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra (http://wordsinplace.net). This original digital resource has led to the publication of co-authored articles in prestigious journals with inter-Departmental colleagues Professor John Potts (MMCCS) and Assoc Prof Donna Houston (Geography and Planning). 

Toby's individual articles appear in peer-reviewed journals Literature and Theology (Oxford Journals),  Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature, Journal of Australian Studies, JASAL (Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature), Westerly, Island, Philament, Rivista di Studi Italiani and e-Rea: Revue Électronique d'Études sur le Monde Anglophone as well as in critical volumes Contemporary Literary Criticism (Gale), The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (OUP), Veronica Brady: A Living Legacy (ATF Press) and Feeding the Ghost: Essays on Contemporary Australian Poetry (Puncher and Wattman). 

Toby's poetry has appeared three times in Black Inc's acclaimed Best Australian Poems series, with his debut collection Beast Language described by CAL Chair of Poetry Robert Adamson as 'A remarkable first book of poetry ... [which] pays fierce attention to the human "beast" and listens to the language of the political climate, all done with insistent though complex music ... A wondrous achievement.' Renowned poet and editor Judith Beveridge wrote that the collection contains 'swank, flair, enormous breadth and some of the most zestful verbal structures I have read in a long time. A real treasure.' Works from Beast Language have been anthologised in Contemporary Australian Poetry (eds. Judith Beveridge, Judy Johnson, Martin Langford and David Musgrave), The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry (eds. John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan) and The Weekly Poem: 52 Exercises in Closed and Open Poem Forms (ed. Jordie Albiston).

Poems from Toby's forthcoming second collection Four Oceans have been published in Antipodes, Cordite, Westerly, The Disappearing (Red Room Company), The Hunger (eds. Michele Seminara and Robbie Coburn), Truth or Beauty: Biographical Poetry (eds. Anna Jackson, Helen Rickerby, Angelina Sbroma), Mascara Literary Review, Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics, Rabbit: A Journal for Non-Fiction Poetry and Verity LA. ‘Creature Quatrains’ was shortlisted for the 2016 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize. In 2017, Toby was the convening judge for the ASAL Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize.    



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  • 3 Similar Profiles
mysticism Social Sciences
federation Social Sciences
poetry Social Sciences
Poem Arts & Humanities
writer Social Sciences
Poetry Arts & Humanities
evidence Social Sciences
Mystic Arts & Humanities

Projects 2014 2015

Research Outputs 2007 2019

Robert Harris redux

Davidson, T., 23 Apr 2019, In : Sydney review of books.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Robert Harris


Davidson, T., Jul 2018, In : Westerly. 63, 1, p. 98-99 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalOther journal contributionResearchpeer-review

Open Access
colonial age
public space
field research

Philip Salom: feeding time to the contemporary

Davidson, T., 2018, Feeding the ghost 1: criticism on contemporary Australian poetry. Kissane, A., Musgrave, D. & Rickett, C. (eds.). Waratah, NSW: Puncher and Wattmann, p. 59-84 26 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

The professor and the unnamed stalk the post-apocalyptic wilderness

Davidson, T., 2018, The Hunger. Featherstone, N., Seminara, M. & Coburn, R. (eds.). Verity La, 2 p. (Verity La anthology; no. 1).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contributionResearchpeer-review