Robert Adamson has been nourished for much of his life by Australia’s Hawkesbury River. His poetry praises nature – red in tooth and claw – and celebrates existence as a mythological quest. Net Needle is his first new collection to be published in Britain since Reading the River: Selected Poems (2004) and The Kingfisher's Soul (2009).
Net Needle brings together the presiding influences of Adamson's life, early and late. He casts 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. Throughout, he is characteristically attuned to the natural world, sketching encounters both intimate and strange. These are poems of clear-eyed vision and mastery, borne of long experience, alert and at ease.
'One of the finest Australian poets at work today.' – David Wheatley, Times Literary Supplement
‘Could it possibly be close to forty years ago when Bob Creeley and Robert Duncan first brought back the news about an extraordinary young Australian poet? I’ve avidly followed Bob Adamson’s work since those days, as he has probed the inner and outer landscapes of his environment with inspirited precision. “Praise life with broken words.” Eye and ear, none better.’ – Michael Palmer
‘‘“Net Makers”, at the end of Part One [of Net Needle], is effectively the collection's title-poem… 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.’ – Geoff Page, Sydney Morning Herald
‘‘[Adamson’s] body of work deserves to be on every high school and university syllabus, and in every bait and tackle shop, in the country… Net Needle once again shows Adamson to be a beneficiary of the more protean aspects of modernism, an emotionally warm and compassionate poet whose scarifying disclosures are never made simply to shuck the past.’ – Gregory Day, Weekend Australian
‘Robert Adamson is that rare instance of a poet who can touch all the world and yet stay particular, local to the body he’s been given in a literal time and place. He is as deft and resourceful a craftsman as exists, and his poems move with a clarity and ease I find unique. He has savored his life, felt it at each moment, and what he has written is its vivid and enduring testament.’ – Robert Creeley
Robert Adamson: Poet of the Hawkesbury River
Robert Adamson has been nourished for much of his life by Australia’s Hawkesbury River. His grandfather was a fisherman on the Hawkesbury, where Bob has lived, on and off, for most of his life, and for the past three decades with photographer Juno Gemes. Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s film portrait covers some of the key aspects of his life and work: his early obsession with fishing, birds and nature; his discussions with American poets Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley during their visits to Australia (with Duncan’s outing to the Hawkesbury inspiring one of the poems he reads); and the ways in which his poetry was transformed with their encouragement, and in particular by Duncan’s insistence on the primacy of myth in poetry and Creeley’s urging that he should write from his own life.
The selection of poems is directed by the stories he tells over the course of two days on and around the river. Their house on the point looks out over Mooney Creek and its old oysterbeds. On one trip downriver, he shows us his grandfather’s old house on the shore, as a pelican takes flight across the water. The film starts with the boat moored at Jerusalem Bay, an inlet where he used to come fishing as a teenager on outings from Sydney. The poems included in the film are ‘The Gathering Light’, ‘Thinking of Eurydice at midnight’, ‘Black water’, ‘My granny’, ‘The Southern Skua’, ‘The Stone Curlew’ and ‘Juno & Eurydice’.
Shot over two days in February 2010, the film is from the DVD-anthology IN PERSON: WORLD POETS, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017): http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/in-person-world-poets-dvd-book--1080
Robert Adamson: The Speaking Page
This short film features Robert Adamson reading his poem 'The Speaking Page' with photographs of the river by Juno Gemes. It is extracted from A pod of poets, produced for ABC's excellent Poetica podcast series of Australian poetry by Libby Douglas with sound engineer Phillip Ullman. The full feature mixes soundscapes of the Hawkesbury River, oyster farming and fishing, with Robert talking about the influences on his work, his family, his desire to become an ornithologist and the first time he heard Bob Dylan. To listen to the podcast, go to Poetica
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