About the book

'Headwaters marries an extraordinary gift for observation of the natural world and an exquisite appreciation of human creatureliness with marvellous linguistic precision to create a singular, life-affirming music.' John Burnside

Book cover of Headwaters by Anthony Lawrence
Published by: 
Pitt Street Poetry

About the author


Anthony Lawrence, born 1957, in Tamworth, New South Wales, has published fifteen books of poetry and his work has won many of Australia’s most prestigious awards. He teaches Writing Poetry at Griffith University, Gold Coast, and lives on the far north coast of New South Wales.

Image of author Anthony Lawrence

Judges’ comments

Anthony Lawrence’s Headwaters meditates on complex ideas of sources and origins, from poems that delve into the estuarine world and the movement of bodies of water, to questions of family inheritances and the sometimes fraught relationships between sons and fathers, and encounters with poetic forebears such as Yeats and Dickinson.

Underlying all of these origins, however, is the body itself, the ultimate source: one which houses all experience, or, what the Scottish poet John Burnside, when praising this book, termed our “creatureliness”.

Some of the most powerful poems in the collection handle the body’s failings – deaths, the loss of a father’s ashes, and the rituals that follow funerary rights, to bodily harms experienced while slicing a foot open with the razor-sharp spines of a sea urchin, or detaching the retina of an eye with an errant piece of fencing wire, as well as threats to the body from pathogens and illness, addictions of various kinds, vices, and temptations.

Lawrence is a forensic observer of the animal and human worlds and a profound translator of that lived experience into the “unfenced shires” of language. Headwaters is a commanding addition to Lawrence’s oeuvre.