Born: Established: 27 Jun 1919 North Adelaide ; Died: 15 Dec 1942 Papua New Guinea
D. B. Kerr was educated at St Peter's College and entered the University of Adelaide in 1937, boarding at St Mark's College from 1938 and meeting Paul Pfeiffer (q.v.), C. R. Jury (q.v.), J. I. M. Stewart (q.v.), Max Harris (q.v.), Geoffrey Dutton (q.v.) and Colin Thiele (q.v.). It was a heady time of literature, politics, youth, love and anger, themes that were reflected in Kerr's poetry. While at university, Kerr studied English language and literature, and was awarded the John Howard Clark Scholarship. He also participated in rugby and debating teams. According to John Miles (q.v.), his biographer, Kerr was known as 'Sam' to family and friends. He had a striking physical appearance and personality. One of Kerr's 'sweethearts', Carys Portus, kept diaries that describe well the world of pre-war Adelaide in which she and Kerr lived. Miles drew extensively on these writings for Lost Angry Penguins, his biography of Kerr and Pfeiffer.
Kerr was President of the Arts Association at the University of Adelaide where he was studying English language and literature; in 1939, he edited the University's annual graduate magazine Phoenix in which he published new and radical work, incurring the wrath of conservative elements within the University. Phoenix's funding was withdrawn leading to the establishment of the journal Angry Penguins in 1940, 'an act of defiance', according to a Note at the start of the journal, which Kerr edited with Max Harris that year. Harris later gave Kerr credit for founding Angry Penguins (in an obituary, Angry Penguins No 4, 1943 and in other documents, such as the 'Biographies' section of Voices: A Quarterly of Poetry, No. 118, 1944). Harris also made a detailed statement on the quality of Kerr's poetry for the dust jacket comments on Kerr's book, Death, Be Not Proud.
Kerr enlisted in the R.A.A.F. prior to completing his degree. Shortly after his graduation, in December 1940, he was called up and underwent training as an observer. He was commissioned and sent into active service in New Guinea serving as a navigator on supply planes. Kerr died at the age of twenty-three when his plane was shot down over Soputa Strip, Papua New Guinea.