John Kinsella’s position

Posted on September 30, 2009. Filed under: dissenters | Tags: |

John Kinsella disagrees .

With all due respect and remembering of course that Mr Kinsella’s publisher is Melbourne University Publishing who also publish Meanjin and the editor of Overland, Jeff Sparrow.

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2 Responses to “John Kinsella’s position”

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Hi Paul. John Kinsella, in his essay ‘A Poet Laureate for Australia? God Forbid!’ states that “Any official appointment, be it by a government organisation or some semi-autonomous body speaking for “the Australian people”, is going to be tainted”, The alternative, to have a Laureate appointed by the ‘people’, he says is also problematic.

The problem, according to Kinsella, appears to arise from the situation that the people who would be charged with ‘voting’ “would avoid the issue if they could legally do so”. The question must be asked, why the avoidance? I don’t think Kinsella goes directly at that question, but he implies a lack of understanding in his final paragraph. Why not have a referendum? “To understand Australian poetry, you need to read work by its own poets – whatever their background – and look outside the country as well.”

To Kinsella I would say that reading is only the first stage. Identifying with and engaging with ‘Poetry’ is the ultimate proof of understanding.

If understanding, as I have defined it in this context, is the criteria for voting; the nepotism that you have identified within the current guard must be a consequence of popular apathy. That is, a large majority of people are not identifying with or engaging with Australian poetry.

Overland and its associates should not be embarrassed to admit nepotism. To those who find the charge personally affronting, I say, be proud of your passion and redirect your power to encourage participation. Embrace the people who want to engage with you and grow both you and our audience. You must have something admirable about you. Why else would we take the time to integrate with you?

There is nothing more empowering than ‘making’ new friends.

John Kinsella, waffling pretentiously? Are the Kennedy’s gun-shy? Kinsella has made a career out of a scattergun approach to his own poetry, a vast network of writers and academics, and his main preoccupation: self-promotion. But the worm is turning. The smoke is clearing. As Leoanrd Cohen once said, after being interviewed with Irving Layton and Phylis Webb on Canadian televison “The interviewer wanted facts. He wanted me to tow the party line. He didn’t understand the con. You know, is wresting REALLY fixed?”


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