Nonfiction 14

Disclosed Poetics: Beyond Landscape and Lyricism by John Kinsella

By John Kinsella

John Kinsella explores a modern poetics and pedagogy because it emerges from his reflections on his personal writing and educating, and at the paintings of alternative poets, really modern writers with which he feels a few affinity.

 

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A language was lost when the Dutch drainage engineers showed the English the way to isolate and leave the fen people high and dry. Inland waterways, shorelines. So, writing the pastoral of the fens, beaches were my silent reference point. Difference and distance clarify. The draining of the land effectively desexualised, and made less threatening, the landscape. Its fluidity, its abjection was dried out. 40 Pastoral, landscape, place A witnessing of nakedness on the beach can facilitate early sexual experience.

But though temperamentally unstrung, Gordon put his soul into his writings, and justly won for himself an enviable reputation as a true songster. He possessed a keen sense for manliness and natural beauty. Between his poems and Marcus Clarke’s Preface to them, there is as much difference as between chalk and cheese. Yet despite this criticism of the weird penpainting above, after making due allowances for the peculiarities of Eastern conditions, there is a great deal in it that is true and applicable to certain parts of Australia.

When they do appear, they are hyper-real and come loaded with portent and death. The parrot (oh, a rosella is a type of parrot), the wallaby, or the kangaroo (the latter two are closely related), even deployed as clichés, should never be written off. Let’s take a look at a few uses of ‘parrots’ in colonial Australian poetry. Here’s the opening of Richard Whately’s ‘There is a Place in Distant Seas’: There is a place in distant seas Full of contrarieties: There, beasts have mallards’ bills and legs, Have spurs like cocks, like hens lay eggs.

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