Drawn to the words of Les Murray, Van Walker sets them to music.
VAN Walker has fun with words and ideas, rhythm and rhyme. ''Creativity, to my mind, is basically playing games and the problem-solving that comes from a play instinct,'' he says.
The prolific singer-songwriter will next week perform on the same bill in West Melbourne as one of Australia's foremost poets. He will sing songs, including his versions of two poems by Les Murray, in Melbourne for a series of readings.
Walker was a student in Burnie, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, when he was first taken by the work of the poet from Bunyah, on the north coast of New South Wales.
Walker's passionate, always engaging and robust live performances along with his storytelling flair on albums since 2008's The Celestial Railroad has won him acclaim and a strong following. He will play at The Drunken Poet after readings by Murray and nine poets from the Melbourne Writers Festival Poetry Idol event.
His favourite lyricists include Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Captain Beefheart, Bon Scott and Mick Jagger, an underrated lyricist for whom, like Dylan, ''the literal meaning is secondary to the sound and feeling''. ''I don't reckon Jagger sweats over his lyrics either,'' he says. ''I don't imagine he overworks them. It's instinctual; same with Dylan. Though I assume Townes worked his lyrics hard on the page and drafted each line of his songs like a poet.''
Van Walker and Les Murray will be at The Drunken Poet in West Melbourne on Thursday, December 6.