Pregnant with the thrill of storytelling, full of surprises, calm, jarring, momentous or direct, the first lines of a writer’s work take us to exactly where they want us to be. In this special tribute to novelist and essayist Frank Moorhouse and poet Robert Adamson, fellow writers Annabel Crabb and Mark Mordue share short readings from their work.

Supported by UNSW Sydney.

Robert Adamson (Australian)

Robert Adamson

Robert Adamson (19432022) was one of Australia’s most important poets. He was born in Sydney and grew up in Neutral Bay and on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales. During a tumultuous youth, he found his way to poetry, and over five subsequent decades he produced over 20 books of poetry and three books of prose. From 1970 to 1985 he was the driving force behind Australia’s New Poetry magazine, and in 1987, with Juno Gemes, he established Paper Bark Press, for two decades one of Australia’s leading poetry publishers. He was the inaugural CAL Chair of Poetry at UTS in 201114. He won many major Australian poetry awards, including the Christopher Brennan Prize for lifetime achievement, the Patrick White Award, The Age Book of the Year Award for The Goldfinches of Baghdad (Flood Editions, 2006) and the Victorian Premier’s Poetry Award for The Golden Bird (Black Inc, 2009). His work has been published internationally with Reading the River: Selected Poems (2004), The Kingfisher’s Soul (2009) and Net Needle (2016) appearing in the UK published by Bloodaxe Books and most recently, Reaching Light: Selected Poems was published by Flood Editions in the USA and released in Australia in 2020.

Photo credit: Juno Gemes 

The Poet of the Hawkesbury River

The Last Interview: Robert Adamson on poetry, life and facing death

Frank Moorhouse (Australian)

Frank Moorhouse

Celebrated author and essayist Frank Moorhouse (19382022) was born in the coastal town of Nowra, NSW. He worked as an editor of small-town newspapers before becoming a full-time writer in the 1970s. He won national prizes for his fiction, non-fiction, and essays. He is best known for the highly acclaimed Edith trilogy, Grand Days, Dark Palace, and Cold Light, novels which follow the career of an Australian woman in the League of Nations in the 1920s and 1930s through to the International Atomic Energy Agency in the 1970s as she struggled to become a diplomat. His work has been translated into several languages and recognised with awards including The Age Book of the Year and the ASAL Gold Medal for Forty-Seventeen (2007) and the Miles Franklin Literary Award for Dark Palace (2000). He was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to literature in 1985 and was made a Doctor of the University by Griffith University in 1997 and a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Sydney, 2015.

Frank Moorhouse, Australian author and essayist

Literary giant remembered

Annabel Crabb (Australian)

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a writer and presenter for the ABC. She's also a keen amateur podcaster and co-hosts the inexplicably popular Chat 10, Looks 3 podcast with her colleague Leigh Sales, who lends credibility to the exercise. Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and TV as a political journalist and won a Walkley Award for Stop At Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull. She published a bestselling book about gender and work, The Wife Drought in 2014, and has published two cookbooks with childhood friend Wendy Sharpe, the latest of which is Special Guest. Her most recent Quarterly Essay is Men at Work.

Mark Mordue (Australian)

Mark Mordue

Mark Mordue is the author of the internationally acclaimed biography Boy on Fire - The Young Nick Cave (HarperCollins Australia, 2021), the poetry collection Darlinghurst Funeral Rites (Transit Lounge, 2019) and the travel memoir Dastgah: Diary of a Headtrip (Allen & Unwin, 2001). He was winner of the 2010 Pascall Prize: Australian Critic of the Year and a 1992 Human Rights Media Award for his journalism with Rolling Stone. Mark’s debut novel There’s No Telling (HarperCollins Australia) will be published in late 2023.