David Adès was born in Adelaide of Egyptian Jewish parents. He is a poet and short story writer. He has travelled widely and lived in Israel, India, Greece and most recently for five years in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. He returned to Australia relocating to Sydney in 2016.
David’s first published poem appeared in 1988 in the No. 12 Friendly Street Poetry Reader. His poems have since appeared in many subsequent Friendly Street Readers and in numerous Australian and U.S. literary magazines and have also been published in Rumania, New Zealand, the U.K. and Israel.
David’s poems have been read on the Australian radio poetry program Poetica and have also featured on the U.S. radio poetry program Prosody. He is one of 9 poets featured on a CD titled “Adelaide 9”. Between 2011 and 2015 David participated in the Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Readings in Pittsburgh. Recordings of his readings (and that of many other poets) can be found at http://hemingwayspoetryseries.blogspot.com.
Together with Ioana Petrescu, David co-edited the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26. In 2012 he was one of the volunteer editors of the Australian Poetry Members Anthology Metabolism.
David is a former Convenor of Friendly Street Poets. His manuscript Mapping the World was selected as the winner, by judge Rob Johnson, in the SINGLE POET publishing competition. The book was launched by Mike Ladd at Writers’ Week at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 2008 and was later commended for the Fellowship of Australian Writers Anne Elder Award 2008. A chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal was published in 2015 and a further full-length collection, Afloat in Light was published in 2017 by UWA Publishing.
Mapping the World
First published 2008 by Wakefield Press and Friendly Street Poets (paperback, 86 pp., $19.95 (available from Wakefield Press and Friendly Street Poets).
“…Adès’ poetry abounds in sharp images – Captain Cook’s eyes like ‘needles threaded between the earth and the sky’, white wave crests ‘tap dancing the sky’. An egret, standing in water on the look-out for fish is sharply observed and the poet touches ‘for a moment / the certainty of instinct.’ Here, to echo Verlaine, the indefinite and the precise combine. There is certainty but with the qualification: ‘for a moment’.
Adès is thoroughly contemporary in his awareness of the slipperiness of language and the concepts to which it refers. ‘Definitions are mock borders. Meaning . . . slips unseen between the lines.’ At the same time there is an aspiration to something more assured and lasting . . . at once dream-like and precisely defined. All in all, Adès is doing in this collection what poetry alone can do. That is its abundant justification.”
“…The language shimmers, vivid and alive, clean and elegant: "Her body intersects the searing white glaze of midsummer sun, the Mediterranean’s turquoise bands, my indrawn thoughts…" Images are plentiful, sharp, and beautiful. Words are used like calligraphic brushstrokes, spare and assured. An egret is "stark against the dark tannin swirl of river", the poem mirroring the elegance of the bird it paints.
To read from beginning to end is to float, carried with wavelike motion through swell then subsidence, from turbulence to tranquil rest. Mapping the World is intense and undiluted examination. A rich and satisfying treat.”
“…Divided into four sections – Horizons, Travels to the Interior, Glimpses of Other Landscapes and Heartlands – Mapping the world is an open invitation to bear witness to the pivotal moments and enduring memories of Adès’ encounters with foreign lands and temporary homes. What makes this theme unique is that Adès avoids the typical travelogue collection by ensuring these encounters are not only geographical, but also human. So amid the foreign landscapes of Greece and Southeast Asia, India and even our own enigmatic backyards of Australia, we are given an opportunity to reflect upon personal relationships and see them, as well, as realms of exploration…”
“…Throughout these are neatly crafted poems, but for all that, rich in human insight and wisdom, self-accompanied by brilliant sound-play. I commend his collection, I bow to the poet.”
Only the Questions Are Eternal
First published 2015 by Garron Publishing (paperback, 23 pp., $7.00, available from Garron Publishing)
“I admire David's mixture of straightforward honesty and narrative restraint. "The House I Built" evokes all sorts of incomplete relationships, giving us enough to know what he's talking about, without being entirely specific. "Staring at an Unblinking Eye" with its "The heart breaks/and keeps breaking" breaks the reader's heart, yet never reveals anything specific.
"Poem for Stephen" and "The Bridge I Must Walk Across" shift the second half of the collection to Death, and what Love does with that. Those two are strong, and I'll be rereading this brief collection; and teaching some of the poems to my students.”
- Timons Esaias, Goodreads, February 2016
Afloat in Light
First published 2017 by UWA Publishing (paperback, 128 pp., $22.99, available from UWAP Publishing)
“From infancy to the last breath, David Adès turns a compassionate eye on humanity. He explores ambition, failure, love and loss with “the rich poverty of language.”
- Mike Ladd, 2017
“This book, richly suffused with a personal metaphysics of light and dark, is an extraordinary meditation on the intricacies of affection and intimacy, loss and grief. Its graceful and eloquent poems possess a delicacy that might be written on the skin.”
- Paul Hetherington, 2017
“David Adès’ luminous and honest collection, Afloat in Light, is chiefly a celebration of fatherhood and of paying attention, utilising Simone Weil’s notion that ‘attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’. The collection extends to existence and loss, and a discourse on motive and meaning. Maps and moral compass are never far away in such explorations and like all good navigators Adès consults the moon and the stars to guide him through emotional terrain that crosses the globe via Australia, India and the United States. Poems about connection and love—familial, intimate, parental and friendship—hold their weight of history via scar tissue and heritage to allow ‘a vast and full space to fill the maps of our lives’. Afloat in Light delicately balances that most crucial aspect of life—of how the ordinary is anything but. Adès is a poet that fully harnesses the verve of small miracles.”
- Libby Hart, 2017
David Adès is a poet who convinces me that the richest poetry comes from the simplest experiences. His second major collection, Afloat in Light (UWAP Publishing, 128 pp., $22.99), with all of its references to distant lands, skies, seas and stars, is really an interior journey, exploring the transcendent possibilities of walking down a street, holding a child, or listening to a parent. These quotidian events pass by most of us unnoticed, but for Adès, they become consecrated moments, and often achieve the sublime.
- Stuart Sheppard, Pittsburgh City Paper 17.1.18
…like most gifted poets, Adès disrupts our easy status quo. Yet, he does so in a way that is subtle and delicate. He does not feel the need to curse, flame, or employ shocking images in his work in order to unsettle the reader. Instead, he disturbs us gently but firmly, like the gully winds that ruffle trees and send flurries of lorikeets skywards in his hometown of Adelaide. The breeze brings change: a force neither good nor evil but which, depending on human reactions and interactions, may be used for moral purposes. These are moral poems indeed but far from didactic. Adès has created a light-filled collection of poetry that is almost mystically contemplative but also wholly committed to the terrestrial and the corporeal; he writes compassionately and passionately about human experiences. This work feels like a culmination of great wisdom which in itself is enough to make it precious: that this wisdom is expressed so lyrically and with such originality renders Adès’s poetry rare. It both demands and rewards repeated reading.
- Alison Clifton, StylusLit – Issue 3, 2 March 2018
This is a very accessible set of poems from an erudite writer. Even a superficial reading is rewarding, but with a bit of effort the reader is taken on a journey questioning life and struggling with the darkness that clouds the light of the imagined perfect life. Adès shows his skill, creating in the reader the ability to engage with struggles through imagery of the everyday. I would recommend ‘Afloat in Light’ especially for those who appreciate good poetry that seeks and questions meaning derived from experience.
- Craig Coulson, Plumwood Mountain 31 January 2019
Afloat in Light sees Adès think deeply and compassionately about life, in all its grief, uncertainty and love, through replies like ‘Dazzled’, that sing. Adès looks for and finds light: out of the starless night, Adès concludes in the last poem, ‘After’: ‘your heart will once again be / luminous’.
- Rosalee Kiely, Rabbit Issue 25
“…Readers are rightly wary of poems about poetry, but this is irresistible: a generous and subtle celebration of the way a poem can infiltrate itself, coming to fruition slowly, among the swarming details of a life observed with appetite . What it affirms (and embodies, in so doing) is almost unnamable, the quality we call ‘voice’, which resides less in the content than in breath, its flow and form. This poem pushes those features to a risky edge, in deep-breathed single-line stanzas that seem to fall off the page almost arbitrarily, yet land still running at a never-quite expected next thought.”
Taboo 1995 short story
1995 Winner, open prose Kensington and Norwood Writers Group anthology “The Starving Writers Guide to Absolutely Everything”
Dancing With Etti Time Fractures : An Anthology from the Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Competition 2005 for South Australian Writers, 2005, short story
2005 Winner Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Award
Numerous Keys, Numerous Doors 2006 poetry
2006 Winner 4th prize City of Onkaparinga Poetry Unhinged Open Poetry Competition
Mapping the World 2008 selected work poetry
2008 Winner Friendly Street Poets Single Poet Volume
2008 Commended The Fellowship of Australian Writers Victoria Inc. National Literary Awards – FAW Anne Elder Poetry Award
Dazzled Dazzled : The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, Australian Poetry Anthology, 9 September 2014, poetry
2014 Winner The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize
Vale, David Ades Once Wild : Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2014, 2014 poetry
2014 Shortlisted The Newcastle Poetry Prize
The Woman of Sighs Pushcart Prize 2015 poetry
2015 Nominated Puschart Prize (U.S.)
What Happened Then Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize, 2016 poetry
2016 Highly Commended Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize
Vladimir Putin’s One Hundred Men Urge : Poems by Finalists in the 2016 Alexander and Dora Raynes Poetry Competition Anthology 2016, poetry
2016 Finalist Alexander and Dora Raynes Poetry Competition 2016 (U.S.)
Some Days Seem More Ephemeral than Others Irises : The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, Australian Poetry Anthology, 21 September 2017, poetry
2017 Shortlisted The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize
Tidal Buying Online : Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2018, poetry
2018 Shortlisted The Newcastle Poetry Prize
2019 Honourable Mention The Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition 2018 (Israel)
Personal website: http://davidades.wixsite.com/poet