'Pi O grew up in ‘the Narrows’ of Fitzroy and, in-and-on that ‘tainted corner’ along that ‘terrible mile’ known thru-out Australia as Gertrude St. and Brunswick St. opposite the Champion and Rob Roy Hotels.
'This is a poetry of place (and of, a place), from the perspective of one who grew up there - not by a tour guide, a oncer, do-gooder, academic, apologist, blow-hard, or for that matter a blow in, but by one whose co-ordinates have always been (0, 0). There are over 400 portraits of some of the most important people in Australia - from prime ministers, saints, poets, priests, gangsters, adventurers, sculptors, murderers, and industrialists, as well as of those who may not otherwise have ever, seen the light of day again. A poetry of people, not property prices!
'With all the biographies merging with that of the poet’s own autobiography or biography and visa versa. This is a new kind of history, in a new & old kind of poetry, in a new era. A mammoth achievement in the annuals of Australian literature.' (Publication summary)
Dedication: for ari and golfo i.m.
Epigraph: The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another - J. M. Barrie
'Les Murray is the contemporary Australian poet one most associates with the celebration of a particular place, but with the publication of the monumental Fitzroy: The Biography, that mantle must surely pass to π.O. Murray’s 40 acres at Bunyah on the north coast of NSW is one-sixth the size of the inner city Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, though considerably larger, and much more sparsely populated, if you take into account the memory of the larger family territory commemorated in poems like ‘Their Cities, Their Universities’, and ‘Aspects of Language and War on the Gloucester Road’. At little more than 240 acres, π.O.’s Fitzroy is the smallest suburb in Australia, and the most densely populated.' (Introduction)