Biography of Robert Adamson
Robert Adamson was born on 17 May 1943 at Neutral Bay, and raised in Sydney, Australia. He was educated at Neutral Bay Primary School and Crows Nest Technical College. His grandfather was a fisherman on the Hawkesbury River to the north of Sydney, where Adamson has lived, on and off, for most of his life. A series of juvenile misdemeanours resulted in him being sent to various detention centres. It was during this period that he first began writing poetry.
Adamson is one of Australia's leading poets, and is a successful writer, editor and publisher. His books have been published in the UK and the USA and his poems have been translated into several languages. He has published fifteen volumes of poetry and has organized and produced poetry readings, delivered papers, lectures and readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and internationally. He has been writer-in-residence at Australian universities, and was President of the Poetry Society of Australia, 1974-1980.
He was a key player in the growth of the 'New Australian Poetry' and was an editor of the Poetry Society of Australia's magazine, New Poetry, from 1968 until 1982. He taught creative writing classes for the W.E.A during the seventies and was the poetry reviewer for Australia's national newspaper, The Australian. In 1975-76 Adamson organized, as President of the Poetry Society, Australian reading tours for Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan.
Robert Adamson has worked as a poetry editor and consultant with Angus & Robertson/HarperCollins and he established several small publishing companies, including Prism Books and Big Smoke. He was the poetry editor the literary magazine Ulitarra from 1993 to 1997. In 1997 he became a founding editor, along with James Taylor, of the international poetry journal Boxkite.
Robert Adamson's Works:
Canticles on the Skin. (Sydney: Illumination Press, 1970)
Cross The Border. (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977)
Where I Come From. (Sydney: Big Smoke, 1979)
The Clean Dark. (Sydney: Paper Bark, 1989)
Waving to Hart Crane. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1994)
Black Water: Approaching Zukofsky. (Sydney: Brandl & Schlesinger, 1999)
Mulberry Leaves: New & Selected Poems 1970-2001. (2001)
Reading the River: Selected Poems. (Bloodaxe Books, 2004)
The Goldfinches of Baghdad. (USA: Flood Editions, 2006)
The Golden Bird: New and Selected Poems (Melbourne: Black Inc., 2008)
The Kingfisher's Soul (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2009)
Zimmer's Essay. With Bruce Hanford (Sydney: Wild & Woolley, 1974)
Wards of the State. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1992)
Inside Out. (Text, 2004)
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Robert Adamson Poems
Where was it we left him? We say the journey’s up, but maybe memory sinks deeper. Our journey so far
When my granny was dying I’d go into her bedroom and look at her
A black summer night, no moon, the thick air drenched with honeysuckle and swamp gum. In a pool of yellow torchlight on a knife-blade, the brand name
The old hull’s spine shoots out of the mud-flat, A black crooked finger pointing back to the house. On the dead low the smell of the mangroves. The river seeps through the window, the books
The Flow Through: For The Johns
We loved the front, your wall of words, and the fact that snatches made sense to the professors. We read The Double Dream Of Spring on a jetty
Éventail: For Mery In Paris
Writing this in sepia ink on a Japanese fan, pain slants my calligraphy this way, sex just under the cap of my skull.
A step taken, and all the world’s before me. The night’s so clear stars hang in the low branches,
The Gathering Light
Morning shines on the cowling of the Yamaha locked onto the stern of the boat, spears of light shoot away from the gun-metal grey enamel.
Canticle For The Bicentennial Dead
They are talking, in their cedar-benched rooms on French-polished chairs, and they talk in reasonable tones, in the great stone buildings they are talking firmly, in the half-light
Green Prawn Map
Morning before sunrise, sheets of dark air hang from nowhere in the sky. No stars there, only here is river.
A black summer night, no moon, the thick air
drenched with honeysuckle and swamp gum.
In a pool of yellow torchlight
on a knife-blade, the brand name
I give in to meaninglessness, look up
try to read smudges of ink
a live squid squirts