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Personal profile


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

His archival work as the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Visiting Scholar led to groundbreaking new research on WWII Prime Minister John Curtin's lifelong engagement with Australian, British, European, Irish and American poetry. This research is the subject of his second critical monograph, Good for the Soul: John Curtin’s Life with Poetry (University of Western Australia Publishing, 2021). More details about the findings and discoveries of this project can be found here.

A transdisciplinary team led by Toby used GPS and Google Maps technology to create the first interactive map of public commemorative sites for Australian writers, Words in Place: A Digital Cartography of Australian Writers and Writing in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra (http://wordsinplace.net). Two co-authored journal articles directly resulted from this project and it continues to serve as a valuable resource for teachers and researchers of Australian literature.


Toby's critical study Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry (2013) is the fifth book in the acclaimed Cambria Press Australian Literature Series curated by general editor Professor Susan Lever. This comprehensive study of two centuries of Australian Christian mystical poetics was shortlisted for the 2015 ASAL Walter McRae Russell Award for the best book of Australian literature scholarship. According to Google Scholar, Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry remains Toby's most globally-cited scholarly work. 


For over a decade, Toby has co-ordinated the annual Francis Webb Poetry Reading at Willoughby Library, Chatswood. This community outreach event invites poets, scholars, film-makers, painters, local historians and high school students from two of the poet's former schools to recite works by Webb (1925-73), who wrote extensively about Australian history, his Catholic faith and his personal experience of mental illness. Toby’s Francis Webb criticism extends beyond his editorship of Webb's Collected Poems (UWA Publishing, 2011) to six additional peer-reviewed articles, making Toby the leading Francis Webb scholar in Australian literary studies today.


His articles and essays have appeared in the following peer-reviewed journals: Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature, Biography, E-Rea: Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone, JASAL, Journal of Australian Studies, Island, Literature and Theology, New Scholar, Philament, Rivista di Studi Italiani and Westerly. Book chapters have appeared in Contemporary Literary Criticism (Gale), Feeding the Ghost: Essays on Contemporary Australian Poetry (Puncher and Wattman), Literary Melbourne, The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (OUP), Veronica Brady: A Living Legacy (ATF) and The Cambridge Companion to Australian Poetry (CUP). He has reviewed for multiple journals, marked many theses, run two conferences (one locally at Macquarie, one internationally at Fudan University) and convened the judging of the 2018 ASAL Mary Gilmore Poetry Award.


Toby's debut poetry collection Beast Language (Five Islands Press, 2012) has been anthologised in Best Australian Poems, The Weekly Poem, The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry and Contemporary Australian Poetry. Poems from his second collection Four Oceans (Puncher and Wattman, 2020) have been published in Antipodes, Australian Poetry Collaboration, Cordite, The Disappearing (Red Room Company), Mascara Literary Review, Meniscus, Messages from the Embers: Australian Bushfire Poetry Anthology, Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics, Rabbit: A Journal for Non-Fiction Poetry, Verity LA and Westerly. 'Burying Dante' won the 2007 Verandah Penguin Literary Award, 'Creature Quatrains' was shortlisted for the 2016 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and 'Indian Pacific' received a Special Commendation in the 2021 Wesley Michel Wright Prize. 

Education/Academic qualification

Graduate Diploma of Education, Grad. Dip Education (Macquarie University), Macquarie University

Award Date: 16 Apr 2014

Doctor of Philosophy, PhD in English Literature , Deakin University

Award Date: 12 May 2009

BA (Hons), Bachelor of Arts with First-Class Honours in English and History, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 29 Apr 1999


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