Homages and Invocations: The Early Poetry of Robert Adamson


Adamson is not conventionally perceived as 'confessional' in a way that Dorothy Hewett is, but the poetry of his first two books Canticles On The Skin and The Rumour (especially its first section) has an intensity and preparedness to confront extreme experiences that is often associated with that adjective. Poems such as 'The Imitator' or 'Action Would Kill It/A Gamble' retain an undeniable power even after nearly twenty years. The question is where this power comes from. It is not possible any longer to claim that it derives from the violence of the experiences themselves, as though this somehow was able to transmute itself into poetic energy. It is possible that in these poems we have merely another example of the recurring experience in literary history whereby previously unthinkable material is 'allowed into' literature, and achieves its power by disrupting accepted modes, in what is essentially a rhetorical way.

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Published 1 October 1989 in Volume 14 No. 2. Subjects: Confessional poetry, Poetic techniques, Robert Adamson.

Cite as: Duwell, Martin. ‘Homages and Invocations: The Early Poetry of Robert Adamson.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 1989, doi: 10.20314/als.3af7879347.