Barry Hill grew up in a politically active Melbourne household. He became a graduate of the University of Melbourne completing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at that institution. He has worked as a journalist, teacher and pyschologist. He lived for a time in London where he worked as an educational psychologist, completed a Master of Arts (MA) degree and joined the staff of the Times Educational Supplement. He returned to Melbourne in 1972 to become founding Education Editor for the Age.
Hill turned to writing full-time in 1975, and has produced collections of short stories, award-winning poetry and novels. He has contributed poetry to anthologies and has been published in several Australian and international literary magazines and journals.
His fictional work often crosses generic categories and explores such themes as Australia's convict past, sexual taboos and family relationships, the nature of reality and the blurred distinction between fact and fiction. Hill frequently delves into the psyches of his multiple characters, mapping the various stages on their journeys of personal discovery in prose which has been described by critics as 'polished' and 'spare'.
He served as Poetry Editor for the Australian from 1998 until 2008. He was appointed a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Department of English at the University of Melbourne in 2005 and was made an Honorary Fellow at the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne. His research interests are available through the University of Melbourne website. Hill was selected as winner of the Victorian Community History Awards - Best Print/Publication in 2005.
'Naked Clay is an intimate response to the paintings of Lucian Freud—"the great amplifier of twentieth century figurative art," as the critic Sebastian Smee has written. With an astonishing touch for individual paintings, and for the connections between seeing and touching, Hill begins his own process of amplification with poems arising out of the "Flemish" portraits and life-studies of Freud's early work, those exacting acts of surveillance that made such an impression on London half a century ago. The poems then move, in keeping with Freud's shift of style, into the matters of flesh, nakedness and performance with which the painter is still confronting viewers.
'Of Freud's "late style", the painter Frank Auerbach wrote that it has "no safety net of manner." This might be said of Hill's engagement with Freud's incomparably candid treatment of his ailing mother, his naked daughters, his male and female friends, each of them tenderly and shockingly rendered in all their "creatureliness". The poems are as urgent as the paintings, and taken together they constitute an essay on the ambiguous gifts from a painter of such mortal, material presences.
'Barry Hill has created a unique space for the senses and the intellect to be prompted, explored and disturbed.' (From the publisher's website.)
'Lines for Birds is the result of a rich collaboration between two distinguished artists, both long fascinated by nature's beauty and power.
'Containing lush images by acclaimed painter John Wolseley and words by award-winning poet Barry Hill, this dazzling book weaves together a conversation between two venerable artists who, in a world of endangered nature, celebrate joy.
'This remarkable collection captures the very essence of Bird - its energy, inquisitiveness and daring - and is proof that these creatures suggest new ways of telling stories about the Earth.
'The book follows the flight paths and habitats of birds, from the Victorian Mallee to the forests of South East Asia, to Japan and the South of France.
'Lines for Birds is not only a beautiful piece of art, but is essential reading for lovers of poetry, visual arts and natural history.' (From the publisher's website.)