Statement on death of Robert Adamson

My heart goes out to the family, friends and members of our literature community as we mourn the loss of one of Australia’s greatest poets and publishers, Robert Adamson, aged 79.

We remember Robert for his ability to create space for each person within his works.

While navigating hardships in his early life, he discovered poetry as solace during his years at Gosford Boys Home.

He went on to build a legacy based on connection and the natural environment.

In his later years, fishing, poetry and literature became his driving force leading him to great success in Australia and abroad, with books published in the UK and US.

Throughout his five-decade career, Robert received widespread recognition, including through the Premiers’ Literary Awards in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

He was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in 2016, was awarded the prestigious Christopher Brennan Prize for lifetime achievement at the Patrick White Awards, and The Age Book of the Year featured his works multiple times.

As the inaugural Chair in Poetry at the University of Technology Sydney, Robert played a vital role in shaping the voices of Australia’s emerging writers, inspiring many artists to pursue their creative journeys.

We spoke only a few weeks ago. He was frail, a shortness of breath, but generous. You could hear a smile in his voice. He described Winter, Hospital Bed modestly as one of the better works he wrote.

There were no fish or birds so I spun my lines

To the ones with heads spring-loaded with resentment

Their temper a red fleck twitching in an eye

While poems of the future waited in line to hear my number

My deepest condolences to his family, friends and particularly his partner, photographer Juno Gemes, during this difficult time.

We have lost Robert’s voice, but Australia can forever treasure his words. Words that evoke stories and pictures and emotions. Stories, pictures and emotions which inspire and electrify the next generation of creators.