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Francis Thompson 1859-1907
by Robert Adamson

He slept by the Thames
in newspapers, a makeshift
blanket, fevered talk.

A loaded opium pipe.
How much did it cost
for his pencil to curve

across pages? At dawn
a red fox limped past
and unsettled the sparrows.

Francis drew down
words, one at a time—
worried about his best lines

as they appeared in print.
He addressed envelopes
in a curved hand to

enfold his poems—
then walked to the Post Office
at Charing Cross.

A century later, I read
‘The Hound of Heaven’
by a river in New South Wales,

hear a bitter chuckle
before his ‘running laughter’—
revelation’s soundtrack.

 Robert Adamson has lived near the Hawkesbury River for most of his life. A series of juvenile misdemeanours resulted in him being sent to various detention centres. It was during this period that he first began writing poetry. His first book, Canticles on the Skin, was published in 1970. With a career spanning more than four decades, Adamson is recognised as one of Australia’s leading poets. His books have been published in the UK and the USA and his poems have been translated into several languages. He has published fifteen volumes of poetry and has organised and produced poetry readings, delivered papers, lectures and readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and internationally. He has been writer-in-residence at Australian universities, and was President of the Poetry Society of Australia, 1974-1980. In 2011 he was awarded the Patrick White Prize and the Blake Prize for Poetry. He is the inaugural CAL chair of poetry at UTS (University of Technology, Sydney).


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Tamryn Bennett is an Australian writer and visual artist currently living in Mexico. Since 2004 she has exhibited artists books (Showers and Clearing and Polaroids and Postcards) illustrations and comics in Sydney, Melbourne and Mexico. Her poetry, illustrations and articles have appeared in Five Bells, Nth Degree, Mascara Literary Review and various academic publications. She has a PhD in ‘Comics Poetry’ from The University of New South Wales and when in Sydney was Art & Publications Director for The Red Room Company.

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