John Kinsella on the Power of Poetry

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Western Australian poet John Kinsella is currently co-editor of Stand (UK), international editor of The Kenyon Review (USA), consultant editor to Westerly (Western Australia) and correspondent for Overland (Victoria), all of which, you would think, would keep him rather busy.  But he still finds time to write essays, such as his recent piece, "Vermin: A Notebook", for the Poetry Foundation.

Driving down to the city this morning, we saw five or six emus crossing the road in an area of national park where I hadn't seen emus before--not once in a lifetime of driving that way. It was a remarkable and invigorating sight as they plunged into the wandoo woodlands of Western Australia, negotiating their way through the spiky hakeas and parrot bush.
On a personal level, it came as a kind of foil for the weekend-that-was--a complex amalgamation of environmental affirmation and also witnessing of horrific environmental crime. The sort of experience that leaves you wondering if any form of environmental activism has any chance of succeeding, yet nonetheless also convinced that there is no choice about acts of resistance. Without them, the environment has no chance.

And writing a statement like this is part of a process of creating poems that hopefully resonate in different ways and in different contexts, and extend what is a particularly local debate into the wider dialogue of which, sadly, it is also part. The compulsion to witness in poetry, the desire to overcome a feeling of crushing failure, and the need to create a cautionary tale that is more than propaganda--all this goes hand-in-hand with a volatility and (maybe overly) emotional reaction to the situations as they happen.

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I am reading a review copy of John's new book 'Post-Colonial' right now. It is fascinating.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 8, 2009 2:53 PM.

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