Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – April 8, 2015

Jack celebrates National Poetry Month with three shows featuring the prominent Australian poet, Robert Adamson. This is the second show. Born in 1943, Adamson lives with his partner, photographer Juno Gemes, on the Hawkesbury River to the north of Sydney in Australia. Over the past five decades Robert Adamson has produced twenty books of poetry. In the 1970s and 1980s, he edited New Poetry Magazine and established Paper Bark Press in 1988 with Juno Gemes. They were married in 1987. In 2011 he was awarded the Patrick White Prize and the Blake Prize for Poetry. He has been awarded the Christopher Brennan Prize for lifetime achievement and The Age Book of the Year Award for The Goldfinches of Baghdad (Flood Editions, 2006). His most recent book is Net Needle (Flood Editions, 2015). He currently holds the Chair in Poetry at the University of Technology, Sydney. During the shows Adamson talks to Jack not only about his own poetry and Australian poetry in general but about his remarkable time in prison, when, in order to protect himself after being raped, he “pretended” to be a Drag Queen. “But,” he remarks, “when you pretend to be something, sometimes you become it.” Robert Adamson is also a lifelong, passionate birder; this is the opening poem of Net Needle:

LISTENING TO CUCKOOS

Two unchanging notes; to us, words—always those high

elongated notes. Red-eyed koels with feathered earmuffs,

 

downward-ending notes that pour through a falling of night

coming over the distances, words that don’t change.

 

The two notes remain, a split phrase, two words

meaning, not exactly a self—not quite, the first day of spring.

 

The moment of utterance, candour becomes

the piercing, whistled syllables. Penetrating the dark green

 

of twilight, the storm birds call, two notes, two words,

and cackle in the broken-egged dawn, in the echoing light.

 

Part Two of Three.

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