The Equal Heart and Mind: Letters Between Judith Wright and Jack McKinney

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University of Queensland Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 202 pages
The Equal Heart and Mind is an intimate portrait of poet Judith Wright and philosopher Jack McKinney. Set in Brisbane and at Mt Tamborine, where they lived for almost twenty years, these letters vividly recreate their intertwined lives and also paint an unforgettable picture of postwar Brisbane with its lively cabals of writers, artists and intellectuals.For decades, Judith Wright kept secret this cache of letters, giving them late in life to her daughter Meredith McKinney. Meredith and Patricia Clarke have edited the letters, interspersing them with poems, a selection of family album photographs and facsimiles of some of the handwritten and typescript letters. Meredith also contributes a special memoir of her parents, and the book concludes with Judith's moving account of Jack's death in 1966.These letters, poems and commentaries - along with the illustrations - together make an exquisite addition to the field of Australian literary biography.

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The Equal Heart and Mind

User Review  - Thorpe-Bowker and Contributors - Books+Publishing

Judith Wright and philosopher Jack McKinney first met in the 1940s and part of the pleasure of this literary gem is the recreation of a lively postwar Brisbane. The Equal Heart and Mind contains of ... Read full review


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About the author (2004)

Born and reared in the pastoral country of New South Wales, Judith Wright returned to this area during World War II, after attending the University of Sydney and traveling in Europe. It was a significant homecoming, for she rediscovered her heritage and put that rediscovery into poetry. She wrote about the beautiful region known as New England, those who peopled it---both the descendants of white settlers and the Aborigines. Her first book, The Moving Image, appeared in 1946, and was enthusiastically received, the poems admired for their lyricism and honesty. Like other writers emerging at this time, she employed Australian materials in a new way, no longer seeing them in a literal sense. Wright continued to publish poetry for the next 30 years, 14 or so volumes in all, as well as making important contributions as a critic and anthologist. Although her early poems are still admired, often anthologized in Australia and abroad, the later work has faded. Turning away from poetry in recent years, Wright has written extensively about the environment and the treatment of Aboriginals, and has also become an articulate public defender of these causes. Her book about white Australia's destruction of Aborigines, The Cry for the Dead (1981), stresses the vacuum that the disappearing Aboriginal culture has left both in nature and Australian society, and reveals the guilt felt by white Australians aware of the genocide practiced by earlier generations. Even though Bruce Bennett, one of Wright's critics, admits that her poetry has gone "off the boil," he sees this as "a temporary phenomenon" and believes that the "informing ecological vision so deeply rooted in her work since her first book of poems, The Moving Image, is ever more urgently relevant.

Sei Shonagon (c. 966a1017) was a gentlewoman in the court of Empress Teishi in what is now Kyoto, Japan.
Meredith McKinney lived and taught in Japan for twenty years and now teaches in the Japan Centre at the Australian National University.

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