In 1950, Andrew Burke wrote his first poem – in chalk on a slate board. It was variations on the letter A. In 1958 he wrote a poem modeled on Milton’s sonnet on his blindness. Luckily it is lost. In 1960 he wrote a religious play about the Apostles during the time Jesus was in the tomb. It was applauded. He wrote some poems influenced by T.S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins. They caused a rift in the teachers at the Jesuit school because they were in vers libre: the old priests hated them but the young novices loved them. It was his first controversy. (The only Australian poet in his school anthologies was Dorothea Mackellor!) Around this time, Burke read the latest TIME magazine from USA. It had a lively article about the San Francisco Renaissance, quoting Lawrence Ferlinghetti who wrote: ‘Priests are but the lamb chops of God’. This appealed to Burke who became a weekend beatnik over night.
When he left school, he hitch-hiked a la Kerouac across Australia to Sydney where he worked in factories, on trucks, at a rubbish dump and moving furniture. His poems appeared in these early days in Westerly, Nimrod, Overland and the Bulletin, and he returned to Perth to regain his health and joined a circle around Merv and Dorothy Hewett. A local poet William Grono hit the nail on the head when he described them as ‘I am London Magazine and you are Evergreen Review’. Long story short, Andrew Burke has written plays, short stories, a novel, book reviews and some journalism alongside a million advertisements and TV and radio commercials. He has also taught at various universities and writing centres and gained a PhD from Edith Cowan University in 2006 when he was teaching in the backblocks of China. As a poet he has published fourteen titles, one of the most popular being a bi-lingual Pocket Book published by Flying Islands Press in 2017, THE LINE IS BUSY (translated by Iris Fan). He is retired now but still writing and lending a hand to younger poets. A small selection of poems follow.
Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications
The Line is Busy
安德魯•博爾克：佔線 trans Iris Fan Xing