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Robert Adamson

Wow, Those Symbolists

rimbaud’s poems being taught in french schools
morrel went on: came out of it
okay to be in charge of the prison keys
morrell says, tom raworth

said: ‘i’ve been throwin’ people down and cuttin’
their throats all my life i don’t know
what honour is. but if you wanna
give me a chance to cut your throat why, alright’

like warm shit in a dovecote a million poems
burn softly inside me. but then,
when i’ve carefully swallowed my dreams: i turn
after drinkin’ six cold beers

& pull myself together to relieve a bitter
need: as sweetly as morrel
i piss towards the dark skies, very high & very far

french schools throwin’ kids down & cuttin’ poems
okay i don’t know what honour is
to be in charge of prison keys rimbaud charges
verlaine for shootin’ him

in a dovecote i’ve carefully swallowed six beers
& if you wanna give me a chance
wow those symbolists

— from The Rumour, Prism Books, 1971

Robert Adamson 1985 by John Tranter

Robert Adamson, 1985, by John Tranter

Robert Adamson spent time in reform school and gaol before branching out into poetry. You can read Douglas Barbour’s review of two books, Adamson’s autobiography Inside Out and his Mulberry Leaves: New & Selected Poems in Jacket 23. Barbour says ‘Robert Adamson has long been considered one of the major poets of the 60s generation in Australia, perhaps one of Australia’s major poets of the past century.’ You can read another poem by Robert Adamson in this issue of Jacket and one in Jacket 2.

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