Literary Victoria

Victoria in story, memory, and the imagination. A guide to stories and works about Victoria and Victorians in fiction, personal narratives and non fiction works.


State Library Victoria has a comprehensive collection of Australian poetry, ranging from colonial times right through to the present. This page will help you:

1) Find poetry and verse in the Library 

2) Discover poetry and verse set in Victoria 

3) Find biographical information about Victoria's poets online using the Library's eresources

4) Discover other useful links about Victoria's poetry scene, including a Melbourne poetry map 

Finding Australian poetry & verse in the Library

As of Thursday 5 December, you can browse Australian poetry in the Poetry/Drama genre lounge in The Ian Potter Queens Hall Reading Room. Works are arranged by the name of the creator, rather than Dewey Decimal number, for ease of reference.

You can also find a limited number of Australian poetry and verse in the La Trobe Reading Room ("the Dome"), also on level 3. Look for the call number range 819 - 821.

Editions of literay journal, Going down swinging

There are many more items in onsite storage. You can browse our full collection of Australian poetry & verse using the library catalogue. You can search for specific titles or authors, or you can browse search by subject, author, title or call number. See our Help pages for tips on how to search.  

Here are some useful searches:

Australian poetry
Australian poetry -- Aboriginal authors
Australian poetry -- History & criticism
Australian poetry -- Periodicals
Folk poetry, Australian
Humorous poetry, Australian
Australian poetry -- 19th century
Australian poetry -- 20th century
Australian poetry--21st century
Australian poetry--21st century--Collections

You can narrow your results down using the sub-fields on the left eg you can filter by Subject, Resource type, Creation date, Author/creator, SLV collection etc.

To find poetry or verse by a particular poet

 To find compilations of poetry or verse by a particular poet:

1. Go to Advanced search

2. Select Author/creator and Using exact phrase from drop down menus at top:

3. Enter your search term eg C J Dennis and press Enter

This will give you all of our holdings of works by poet C. J. Dennis. You can refine your results using the facets on the left ie Subject, Resource type, Creation date, SLV collection etc.


You can find Australian poetry and poetry reviews, as well biographical information about Australian poets, by using the Library's eresources. You can access these databases here at the Library. If you are a Victorian resident and you join the Library, you can also access these eresources from home.

The following databases have a focus on Australian literature:

The databases above focus on Australian literature, but you can also find information about Australian poets in our world literature databases. To see our full range of literature databases, go to A-Z Databases: Literature.

Find poetry & verse set in Victoria

The best way to find details of poetry & verse set in Victoria is by using the AustLit database.

AustLit is a rich online source of biographical, bibliographical, critical and production information about Australian writers and writing. AustLit started out as a citation database, so it is an excellent bibliographical source. You can find the titles of books set in Carlton in the 1960s for example, or the names of Melbourne women authors from the 19th century.

As of January 2017, AustLit also contains more than 87,000 records with links to full-text resources, including out-of-copyright works that have been digitised by AustLit, and out-of-copyright works that have been digitised by other organisations, such as Trove.

 To find poetry and verse set in Victoria:

1. Go to AustLit database and click on Advanced search

2. Locate 'Work' box.


3.Select 'Form/Genre/Type'

4. Choose 'poetry' from drop down menu next to Form category

This will find all works of poetry in the AustLit database.To confine your results to poetry set in Victoria, follow these additional steps:

5. Locate 'Subject' box

6. Select 'Geographic and temporal settings'

7. Start typing location of interest eg 'Victoria'. The Place/setting field will offer you suggestions from the AustLit thesaurus in a drop down list. Select your location from this list.

8. Press 'Search'

This will find all the poetry and verse set in Victoria that exists in the AustLit database.

To find full text works in AustLit

To find full text items in your AustLit search results, look for either a yellow 'F' icon, or a blue arrow.

A yellow 'F' icon indicates that AustLit has digitised a work.

A blue arrow icon indicates that full text is available elsewhere, but accessible through AustLit.

To access full text

To access the full text, click on a title from your search results with a blue arrow or a yellow 'F' next to it. Then click on the Read Online button on the top right.

Useful links

Australian digital collections

Made available by the University of Sydney, this site is an excellent source for works by leading Australian literary figures from the 19th and 20th century. It includes comprehensive collections of the poems of Banjo Paterson, Henry Kendall, Adam Lindsay Gordon. Ada Cambridge, Lesbia Harford and Christopher Brennan. Other poets represented include Barron Field, William Charles Wentworth, Charles Harpur, Henry Parkes, George Gordon McCrae, Henry and Louisa Lawson, C J Dennis, Marie Pitt and Mary Hannay Foott. All texts are searchable and freely available online to anyone who wishes to access them.

Australian poetry

Based at Melbourne's Wheeler Centre (next door to the library), Australian Poetry is a national poetry body whose purpose is to interconnect and support a flourishing community of Australian poets, to enhance and promote their poetry, both in Australia and internationally, and to reach and engage directly with readers, lovers and potential promoters of Australian poetry. Australian poetry also have a dedicated, specialist poetry reference library that the public can access by appointment during weekday hours. 

Melbourne poetry map

The Melbourne Poetry Map is a series of eight poetry walks through the Melbourne central business district, each of which will take between 20 – 45 mins to complete, depending on how fast you walk, how well you know the city and how long you want to spend at each location.

Melbourne - City of Literature

This website was created by the UNESCO Melbourne City of Literature Office, and includes information on all things literary you can find in Melbourne, including bookshops, poetry, theatre, writers, literary journals, spoken word, and much more.

States of poetry

States of poetry is the first online poetry anthology to devote equal space to each state and the ACT. A senior poet active in the state selects six local poet, with an emphasis on early and mid-career poets, and those who are still active in the poetry scene. Each year the cohort of poets is completely different, offering a different snapshot of the poetry being written and published in each state.

Reference sources

Reference sources, such as anthologies and bibliographies, can be an excellent place to begin your inquiries - whether you are looking to simply browse the collection, or you are interested in doing more serious research.

[Public Library of Victoria - staff and public]. Photograph by Mark Strizic; H2008.11/276

To find anthologies and bibliographies of Australian poetry in the Library, use the tabs at the top of this box.


Most poems are published in compilations or anthologies. Anthologies are collections of literary works, usually grouped together by a common theme, author, period, genre or subject matter.

To find anthologies of Australian poetry in the Library catalogue, enter the string: Australian poetry antholog* into the Search box on the catalogue. Here are some good places to start:


A bibliography is a complete or selective list of literature on a particular subject.

The library has numerous bibliographies on Australian literature that include lists of Australian poetic works. You can find them by entering the string: bibliograph* poetry Australia* in the Search box of the library catalogue. Here are just a few:

Land before lines: portraits of Australian poets

Portrait of award-winning Australian poet, Maxine Beneba Clarke, by photographer Nicholas Walton-Healey. You can find more portraits of Australian poets from the Land before lines series in the Library catalogue.

Literary journals

You can also find poetry in literary journals. The library has a great selection. Here are some of the well-known ones:

Australian poetry journal

Australian Poetry is the only print-form literary journal dedicated to the publishing of Australian poetry, across forms. Interviews, reviews, profiles, essays and features about the poetics and experience of Australian poets, and related participants, such as publishers, accompany the poems.

Cordite: poetry and poetics review

An Australian and international journal of poetry, review and criticism.

Going down swinging

Going Down Swinging is a literary journal at the forefront of both digital and print culture, with the willingness to take to the stage wherever an audience can be found. This is where the fierce, fresh writing lives.

The Lifted Brow

This quarterly literary journal publishes a combination of work: essays, commentary, columns, criticism, fiction, poetry, interviews, comics, visual art, and more.


Meanjijn is one of Australia's best and oldest literary journals of literature and ideas.


Overland - Australia's only radical literary magazine – has been showcasing brilliant and progressive fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art since 1954.

Rabbit is a journal for nonfiction poetry. Its aim is to celebrate the potential for poetry to explore and interrogate the boundaries of nonfiction writing.


Southerly, the journal of the English Association, Sydney, is one of Australia’s oldest continuous literary journals. The journal publishes the best in new fiction and poetry, reviews and criticism, from and about Australian and New Zealand authors. Also available online to Victorian residents who join the library. 


Voiceworks is a national literary journal that features exciting new writing and art by young Australians.

Australian poetry library

The Australian Poetry Library (APL) aims to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of Australian poetry by providing access to a wide range of poetic texts as well as to critical and contextual material, including interviews, photographs and audio/visual recordings.

The Australian Poetry Library website contains over 42,000 poems, representing the work of more than 170 Australian poets. You can even find poems by theme and occasion.

Pen and pencil in Collins Street

Collins Street by George Hyde Pownall; H33066 

"Pearl of the city - Collins Street!
Haunt, where the Graces daily meet,
And toil and pleasure blended seem,
In traffic's ever flowing stream!"

(Excerpt from poem Pen and pencil in Collins St by Wayfarer)


You can find papers, letters, diaries, original poems and more written by and about Victorian poets such as Bernard O'Dowd, Henry Kendall, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Barrett Reid in our Manuscripts collection. To search our Manuscripts collection for Australian poets, enter poet's name in the Search box on the catalogue, select Manuscripts from the drop down list of options on the right and press Search.