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John Ernest Tranter (born 29 April 1943) is an Australian poet, publisher and editor. He has published more than twenty books of poetry; devising, with Jan Garrett, the long running ABC radio program Books and Writing; and founding in 1997 the internet quarterly literary magazine Jacket which he published and edited until 2010, when he gave it to the University of Pennsylvania.[1]

John Tranter
Tranter with his grandson in Brooklyn, New York in December 2005
John Ernest Tranter

(1943-04-29) 29 April 1943 (age 76)
ResidenceSydney, Australia
OccupationPoet, publisher, editor
Known forPoetry

The Australia Council awarded him a Creative Arts Fellowship in 1990; some Australian poets "acknowledge his role as innovator and experimentalist".[2]


Tranter was born in Cooma, New South Wales and attended country schools, then took his BA in 1970 after attending university sporadically. He has worked mainly in publishing, teaching and radio production, and has travelled widely, making more than twenty reading tours to venues in the U.S., Britain and Europe since the mid-1980s. He has lived in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, and overseas in London, Cambridge, Singapore, Florida, and San Francisco. He now lives in Sydney, where he is a company director (with his wife Lyn) of Australian Literary Management, a leading literary agency. He is married to Lyn, with adult children Kirsten and Leon, and in 2009 completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts University of Wollongong (conferred, highly commended).

Literary careerEdit

In 1975 John Tranter co-designed the first Books & Writing radio program for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a program format which was still going strong thirty years later. During 1987 and 1988 John Tranter was in charge of the ABC Radio National weekly two-hour arts program Radio Helicon, and from 1990 to 1993 he was the poetry editor of the Sydney-based business/ arts weekly The Bulletin.

He has received many fellowships and other grants, and has been a visiting scholar at various institutions, from Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Arts at the Australian National University to writer-in-residence at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and at Cambridge University in England. He has published over twenty volumes of poetry, including Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected (University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 2006) and Starlight: 150 Poems (University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 2010).

His Starlight: 150 Poems, published by the University of Queensland Press, won the Queensland State Literary Award for poetry and the Age Book of the Year award for poetry in 2011, and Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected, published by the University of Queensland Press, won the Victorian Premier's Prize for poetry in 2006, the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize in 2007, the South Australian Premier's Awards John Bray prize for poetry in 2008 and the South Australian Premier's Awards Premier's Prize for the best book overall (2006 and 2007) in 2008. His Under Berlin, published by the University of Queensland Press, won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry (the New South Wales State Literary Award for Poetry) in 1989, and At The Florida won the Melbourne Age 'Book of the Year' award for poetry in 1993. Other recent books are The Floor of Heaven (Harper Collins, 1992), a book-length sequence of four verse narratives, the poetry collections Late Night Radio (Polygon, Edinburgh, UK, 1998), Heart Print (Salt, Cambridge, UK, 2001), Different Hands (Folio/ Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Cambridge and Western Australia, 1998), a collection of seven experimental computer-assisted prose pieces, Borrowed Voices (Shoestring Press, Nottingham, 2002), a dozen reinterpretations of poems by other poets, Studio Moon and Trio (both Salt Publications, UK, 2003).

He compiled and edited The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry with Philip Mead in 1991. Earlier anthologies include the controversial The New Australian Poetry (Makar, Brisbane, 1979), and a selection of ninety-four poems from the Australian bicentennial poetry competition in 1988, published by ABC Books as The Tin Wash Dish.

In 2004 he built a free prototype internet site that presented biographical and bibliographical information about over seventy Australian poets as well as poems, book reviews and interviews. In 2005 he handed the project over to a consortium consisting of the University of Sydney English Department, the University of Sydney Library and the Copyright Agency Limited. In 2006 the consortium was granted half a million dollars by the Australian Research Council to further extend the work as a research project as the Australian Poetry Library with an internet site hosted by the University of Sydney Library, at The project was launched at State Government House, Sydney, on 25 May 2011, by which time it featured over 42,000 poems by Australian poets from 1800 to the present.

In 2012 he began a regular Internet journal at In 2013 he posted to the Commentaries section of «Jacket2» magazine a list of links to some fifty pieces he authored or edited or photographed in «Jacket» magazine over thirteen years, at

In 2014 John Tranter founded the Journal of Poetics Research at, together with three other Managing Editors: Dr Kate Lilley, University of Sydney; Dr Ann Vickery, Deakin University; and Professor Philip Mead, University of Western Australia; and some thirty other (mostly international) editors. The first (free) issue was published at the end of September 2014, and two issue per year, in March and September, were planned at that time.


Selected bibliographyEdit

As editorEdit


  1. ^ Jacket2
  2. ^ Wilde et al. (1994)


  • "About us | jacket 2"' Accessed: 2011-05-28
  • Wilde, W., Hooton, J. & Andrews, B (1994) The Oxford Companion of Australian Literature 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Oxford University Press

External linksEdit