Release date: 3rd February 2024
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Birds and Fish: Life on the Hawkesbury
About the Book:
In the old days I used to think art
That was purely imagined could fly higher
Than anything real. Now I feel a small fluttering
Bird in my own pulse, a connection to the sky.
—from ‘The Kingfisher’s Soul’
In the last year of his life, with the help of friend and poet Devin Johnston, Robert Adamson put together a selection of his writings on the natural world. Birds and Fish defines the presences in his life on the Hawkesbury River and includes excerpts from his autobiography, Inside Out, as well as essays written over the years for Fishing World; some prose poems; and journal excerpts related to his bowerbird Spinoza. Adamson’s prose is vivid, precise, and draws on his life on the river and his poetic sensibility. The book also includes drawings by Robert Adamson.
About the Author:
Robert Adamson was an Australian poet. He was born in 1943 and lived near the Hawkesbury River for most of his life. As a juvenile delinquent growing up on the shores of Sydney Harbour, he often sought refuge on the Hawkesbury at the home of his paternal grandfather, who fished its waters for over four decades. As Adamson recounts in his autobiography Inside Out, his grandfather taught the future poet how to ‘read’ the river, advising him to ‘never stay away too long’ and imparting the instinctive knowledge that ‘all rivers flow into this one.’ Adamson never forgot this advice, even during the dark years of reform school and personal turmoil that followed, when he first came to poetry.
With a career spanning five decades and countless literary awards, Adamson is recognised as one of Australia’s greatest poets. His books are published in the UK and the USA, and his poems have been translated into several languages. He published twenty-one volumes of poetry and organised and produced poetry readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and internationally. He was President of the Poetry Society of Australia, from 1974 to 1980. Adamson’s autobiography, Inside Out, was published in 2004.
Adamson was a key player in the growth of the ‘New Australian Poetry’ and an editor of the Poetry Society of Australia’s magazine, New Poetry, from 1968 to 1982. He worked as a poetry editor and consultant and established several small publishing companies, including Prism Books and Big Smoke. With his wife, the photographer Juno Gemes, he published Paper Bark Press from 1986 until 2002. This small press was one of Australia’s most important publishers of poetry, with a backlist of over thirty books.
Robert Adamson died in December 2022. He worked with his friend and fellow poet Devin Johnston to prepare this book.
Devin Johnston is the author of several collections of poetry, including Dragons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023). An editor of Flood Editions, Johnston teaches at Saint Louis University in Missouri, where he lives.
Cover artwork: Robert Adamson, Paper Sailfish in a Sea of Ink