Guide to the Papers of Craig Powell [MSS 152]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Craig Powell
Manuscript Number MSS 152
Last Updated August 2021
Extent 2 cm (1 box, 2 folders)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract This collection comprises personal correspondence between Powell and some notable Australian poets, from the 1960s to 1990.

Scope and Content

The Craig Powell Papers feature a small selection of personal correspondence between Powell and some notable Australian poets, from the 1960s to 1990. Correspondents include Michael Dransfield, Peter Kocan, Les Murray, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Thomas Shapcott, Francis Webb and Judith Wright. Draft poetry sent to Powell is also included in the papers, as well as commentary about the contemporary Australian literary scene.

Date Range of Content



Special Collections staff has imposed the series arrangement of this collection to describe and preserve context and relationships.

Biographical Note

(John) Craig Powell was born on 16 November 1940 in Wollongong, NSW. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1964 and from the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry in 1970. He later went on to run a private psychotherapy practice in Sydney. He spent the years between 1972 and 1982 residing in Canada.

Powell contributed lyrics to a musical score by Moya Henderson, Nembutal Rock (1974). As well as the awards listed on AustLit, Powell won the Quarterly Review of Literature 45th Anniversary International Poetry Competition in 1989.

Powell has been awarded:
Arts Queensland Judith Wright Calanthe Prize for Poetry, 2003: shortlisted
Quarterly Review of Literature 45th Anniversary International Poetry Competition in 1989
Mattara Poetry Prize, 1983: winner for 'Five pieces for a homecoming'
Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Award, Verse, 1969: winner for 'Tree and river bank'
Poetry Australia Prize, 1964: winner for 'Four portraits'.

AustLit : The Resource for Australian Literature, March 2007.

Administrative Information


Access: Open Access

This collection contains a variety of copyright material. Copyright is held by the creator of each item. Specific conditions for this collection are listed below. If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items. Digitised material from manuscript collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright. Refer also to the UNSW copyright, disclaimer and takedown policy. 

Copying of material for private study and research is approved

Preferred Citation

Papers of Craig Powell, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, MSS 152, Series [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was acquired from Craig Powell in 1991.

Access Terms

Personal Names

Powell, Craig, 1940- -- Correspondence.

Powell, Craig, 1940- -- Archives.

Topical Subjects

Poets, Australian -- 20th century -- Archives.

Australian poetry -- 20th century.



Series List and Descriptions


Series 1 Correspondence, 1968-1980

This series comprises a number of letters written to Powell between 1968-1980. The letters are of a personal and intimate nature and contain valuable information on writers, values and the literary scene of Australia in the changing society of the 1960s and 1970s.

Folder 1
Includes correspondence from Michael Dransfield and Peter Kocan, an aspiring poet in a psychiatric hospital. It includes details on Kocan's daily life and contains drafts of 19 poems he submitted for Powell's criticism. There is correspondence from Les Murray on issues such as his position as editor of Poetry Australia, the fortunes of the journal and South Head Press, legal problems with publishing a selection of Francis Webb's poetry, the actions of journal owner Grace Perry and Powell's relationship with the journal. There is a letter from Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), as well as three particularly affectionate letters from Francis Webb, dated 1970 and 1971, which discuss Powell's poem 'Hans' at length. There is also correspondence from Judith Wright, 1967-1971, discussing her abhorrence of literary criticism, her work, and her relationship with a troubled teenager.


Series 2 Correspondence from Thomas Shapcott, 1966-1990

This series contains particularly personal letters from Shapcott to Powell. Topics discussed include Powell's poetry, Shapcott's education and poetry, influences on poetical writing styles, various literary ventures and publications, as well as personal events in both their lives, such as births and deaths of children.

Folder 1
Approximately 50 typewritten letters from Shapcott to Powell detailing family, literary and professional news over a period of 24 years.