John Kinsella



A Poetics of a Politics

When delivering a thesis presentation based on rethinking the methodologies for reading Aboriginal Australian poetics, a fellow postgraduate student asked me, ‘Do you consider your thesis political?’ I was momentarily floored. It was a question I had expected, and yet had not been adequately prepared for. In fact, as it turned out, the question was meant sincerely.

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Introduction to Matthew Hall’s False Fruits

Fruit is the apogee of the pastoral. It’s what the work, the waiting, the ritual and the thanks are for. But the making of fruit is costly and even the ‘natural’ cycle of things will be managed so some factors are privileged over others. In this cycle of post-lyrical poems, Hall questions the form and circumstances of these factors. What are they?

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Activist Journal: Ireland and Germany Extraction, 2015-16

18/9/2015 Rosewood, Schull, Co. Cork, Ireland

Difficult and full fortnight of work coming up before I have to travel solo to London on bus, ferry and train.

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Unbidden: Settler Poetry in the Presence of Indigenous Sovereignty

Influenced and shaped by some fifty years of Indigenous poetry in English, the last couple of decades of Australian settler poetry have advanced prolific attempts to ‘write (oneself) into the country’ (Van Teeseling 209): producing varied and sometimes radical poetries of regionality, topography, climate, and the histories, narratives and landmarks running through and over them. I contend that such contemporary work by settler poets presents a continuum – varyingly compelling attempts to write in the presence not only of Indigenous poetry, but also colonisation’s ongoing effects and of un-ceded Indigenous sovereignty.

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Chris Brown Reviews John Kinsella

The poetry of John Kinsella will need little introduction in a forum such as this, though with the recent publication of his Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems, aspects of Kinsella’s biography move more meaningfully into focus. Author of over forty books, Kinsella’s writing career spans three decades. What with the wealth of material available to him, Kinsella and his editors might have been spoilt for choice; though how to bring this wealth into a general coherence?

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Bonny Cassidy Reviews Contemporary Australian Literature: A World Not Yet Dead

As Feature Reviews Editor and sometime reviewer for Cordite Poetry Review it is an unusual (and therefore fun) privilege to consider a title in which poetry is critically addressed in the company of other forms. Too often it is it either quarantined within poetry-only criticism, or mentioned as an embarrassing aside to discussions of prose.

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Natural Selection: Ecological Postcolonialism as Bearing on Place

Australian poetry reminds us that we cannot encounter the natural world except by cultural means. As Tom Griffiths writes, the idea of the natural world as a ‘cultural landscape acknowledges that an area is often the product of an intense interaction between nature and various phases of human habitation, and that natural places are not, as some ecological viewpoints suggest, destined to exist as climax communities or systems untouched by human hands’ (1996, p 277).

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The Collapse of Space: On Lisa Gorton’s The Life of Houses

I think making comparisons between Lisa Gorton’s The Life of Houses and other writers is somewhat distracting of the novel’s achievement. If there was another novelist who came to mind during my reading of this novel it was actually Virginia Woolf, though this was in a distant modernist way, and echoed my reading of To the Lighthouse of almost thirty years ago. (As I write, my partner Tracy Ryan, calls out from her study and reads a piece to me saying Lisa Gorton herself draws this link to Woolf – which I didn’t know when I read the book and thought it.)

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Simon Eales Reviews John Kinsella

In the first rabbit poems by the late J S Harry, her rabbit-character, Peter Henry Lepus, is thrown into a number of desolate or alien environments. Peter is ‘dumped … on the Desert of Sense’, ‘comes to … FORTY-THREE BLENDS / OF DUSTED-OFF & SUNDRIED RATIONALISM’, and ‘gets lost in “Calcutta” / on his way to visit Farmer McGruber’s vegetable patch.’ He is displaced most comprehensively in the middle of Iraq, 2003, a warzone that amplifies his naïve and interlopic perspective. Such meaning-deprived contexts let Harry explore belonging, identity, and the stability of concepts themselves. In the poem, ‘Small & Rural’, for example:

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from Lip Trills

Strung out goes hard wired into the signature scarring so shown on arching barks as sampled tolerance slurs and ligatures, he shall have music wherever he goes to stack accumulating pocket money with foxed gatefold and the bells on his …

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Australian Ecopoetics Past, Present, Future: What Do the Plants Say?

Like the country’s arid interior, contemporary Australian ecopoetics is vast and robust. The expressions of Australian ecopoetry are as varied as the antipodean landscape itself, underscoring the intricate connections between language and ecology in this part of the world. The Mediterranean climate of Western Australia’s southwest corner, the Red Centre of Uluru, the tropical rainforests of Queensland, the temperate Tasmanian old-growth forests and the alpine reaches of the Victorian High Country signify this: rather than a contiguous desert or a terra nullius (as some readers both inside and outside of Australia may still believe), the Australian environment is a mosaic of biota, climates, topographies and regions.

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Paul Hetherington Reviews The turnrow Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry

John Kinsella is an Australian poet with a high profile and a long record of achievement, including winning the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. He is also an assiduous anthologiser. Most notably, he edited The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2008), one of the more successful of recent attempts to establish an indicative canon of Australian poetry (although this was not, perhaps, Kinsella’s avowed intention with that book).

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