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Biography- Robert Adamson

Robert Adamson was born in 1943 at Neutral Bay and raised in Sydney. 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 a successful writer, editor and publisher. His books have been published in the UK and the US and his poems have been translated into several languages. He has released 15 volumes of poetry and has organised and produced poetry readings and delivered papers, lectures and readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and the world. He has been a writer-in-residence at Australian universities and was president of the Poetry Society of Australia from 1974 to 1980.

Robert Adamson has worked as a poetry editor and consultant with Angus & Robertson/HarperCollins and has established several small publishing companies, including Prism Books and Big Smoke. He was poetry editor of 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 1990 collection The Clean Dark won the Victorian and NSW Premiers' prizes as well as Australia's National Book Council Banjo Award – the first time all three major prizes went to the same book. This was followed by Waving to Hart Crane in 1994, which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry and the Australian Literary Gold Medal, University of NSW. In 1995 he was awarded the Christopher Brennan Award by the Fellowship of Australian Writers for lifetime achievement in poetry.

His 18th book, Mulberry Leaves: New & Selected Poems 1970-2001, brought together the best of his poetry. With a career spanning three decades, Adamson's work in Mulberry Leaves bears out Dorothy Hewett's observation that 'with each book his maturity and control increases'. This rich but discriminating selection consolidated his claim to being 'the most unique poet of his generation' and a 'key figure' according to The Times Literary Supplement. In 2002 Adamson attended the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry and read with the American poet Michael Palmer and Lee Harwood from the UK.

Adamson's autobiography, Inside Out, was published in 2004 by Text Publishing. Inside Out was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year, Queensland Premier's Literary Award, NSW Premier's History Award, State Library of New South Wales National Biography Award and Douglas Stewart Prize.

Festival Appearances

Perth Writers Festival Saturday 28 Feb – Mon 2 March, 2009


The Goldfinches of Baghdad
Reading the River: Selected Poems
Inside Out: An Autobiography
Mulberry Leaves: New & Selected Poems 1970 - 2001
Black Water: Approaching Zukofsky
The Language of Oysters
Waving to Hart Crane
The Brutality of Fact
Wards of the State
Selected Poems, 1970 - 1989
The Clean Dark
The Law at Heart's Desire
Where I Come From
Selected Poems
Cross the Border
Theatre I-XIX
Zimmer's essay
Swamp Riddles
The Rumour
The Imitator
Canticles On The Skin

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