Robert Adamson


adamsonRobert Adamson was appointed Professor of Poetry at University of technology Sydney (UTS) in February 2012. At the Sydney Writers' Festival in May 2016, Adamson launched the historic Australian issue of Poetry, which he edited, with Don Share, editor of Chicago’s Poetry Foundation. He edited Black Inc's Best Australian Poems 2010 and Best Australian Poems 2009. Adamson's latest collection of poetry, Net Needle, was published in May 2015 by Black Inc in Australia and by Flood Editions in the US, and by Bloodaxe Books in the UK in May 2016.  

The book brings together the presiding influences of his life, early and late, casting an affectionate eye on the Hawkesbury fishermen who "stitched their lives into my days," childhood escapades, lost literary comrades, the light and tides of the river, and the ambiance of his youth.
"This is Adamson at his most characteristic and memorable: the gritty realism with a lyrical edge; the "hands-on" knowledge of a physical craft; the opening-out into wider implications about people's emotional lives, and so on."

~ GEOFF PAGE, Sydney Morning Herald.

"Adamson is the voice of a harder, more mercurial and therefore more evocative harbour, a flawed place in which suicide cliffs and fin shadows co-exist beside hope, poverty and fluorescent birds." 

"a body of work that deserves to be on every high school and university syllabus, and in every bait and tackle shop, in the country."

~ GREGORY DAY, The Australian.


Robert's previous book of poetry The Kingfisher's Soul, was published in the UK by Bloodaxe Books in 2009.

The Golden Bird: New and selected poems, was published in Australia by Black Inc in 2008. It won the CJ Dennis Prize for Poerty in the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and was short listed for the 2009 Age Book of the Year (Poetry).

’The sparseness and taut energy of the more recent poems, for all Adamson's famous romanticism, seems classic: as if, like Yeats, he has discovered the exhilaration and enterprise of walking naked‘


The Goldfinches of Baghdad, Adamson’s first book published in North America, teems with cockatoos, kookaburras, lyrebirds, dollarbirds, and a host of waders from Australia. At once real presences and sly emissaries of the poetic imagination, these birds perform aspects of ourselves just as we assume their weird attributes: “The shadow your hand casts / resembles the mudlark, opening / its wings, calling and rocking, / perched in the pages / of my book.” They transgress human boundaries, ignoring sign posts and political borders. As birds and words exchange places, Adamson charts their migration. Published by Flood Editions in 2006, Adamson toured the USA in March and April of 2006, reading his poems in public libraries, universities and book stores from San Francisco, Chicago, Athens Georgia to Boston and New York. It was launched in Australia in August 2006 and won the 2006 Grace Leven Prize for Poetry, announced in March 2007. It also won the Age Poetry Book of the Year 2007 and was short listed in the 2007 NSW Premier’s Poetry Awards and the Queensland Premier’s Poetry Awards 2007.

Reading the River – Selected Poems was published in June 2004 in the UK by Bloodaxe books and Robert did a promotional tour in the UK in July of that year.

‘Robert Adamson is one of Australia's national treasures.’

~ John Ashbery

 Robert’s poems have been translated into seven languages and won many awards. His 1990 Collection, The Clean Dark, won both the Victorian and NSW Premier’s prizes as well as a National Book Council Banjo Award. He has worked as a poetry editor and consultant for Angus & Robertson and is a director of Paper Bark Press, a publisher of poetry.

Mulberry Leaves, New & Selected Poems 1970 - 2001, published in 2001, brought together the very best of his poetry from 1970 to 2001. This rich but discriminating selection consolidated his claim to being ‘the most unique poet of his generation’ (Dorothy Hewett) – a ‘key figure’ according to the Times Literary Supplement.

Mulberry Leaves bears out Dorothy Hewitt’s observation that ‘with each book his maturity and control increases’, ‘He is as deft and resourceful a craftsman as exists. He has savoured his life, felt it at each moment, and written its vivid and enduring testament’ (Robert Creeley) in these ‘brutal and beautiful lyrics’ (Kevin Hart). ‘In the earliest poem printed here, The Rebel Angel, the youthful ex-con’s project is to break out and discover – that is, make for himself – “some kind of law”. These poems are the thirty-year record of that making.’ (David Malouf).

Adamson’s beautifully written autobiography, Inside Out, was first published in hardback in March 2004 by Text Publishing and released in soft cover in July 2006. In this wonderful book, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny, Robert tells the story of his childhood and early adulthood in fifties and sixties Australia. Having spent much of his adolescence in boys’ homes and prisons he is introduced to books and dreams of becoming a writer. This book was shortlisted for: AGE BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD, 2004; QLD PREMIER'S AWARDS, BEST NON-FICTION BOOK, 2004; NSW PREMIER'S HISTORY AWARDS, 2004; AUSTRALIAN HISTORY PRIZE STATE LIBRARY OF NSW NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY AWARD, 2005; NSW PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS, DOUGLAS STEWART PRIZE, 2005.

Robert is a keen fisherman and has written articles on fishing in a number of magazines, including Fishing World.

Juno Gemes’ photography appears in a number of Robert Adamson's books.

For more information about Robert, and an extensive collection of reviews of his many publications, visit his site at