AustLit logo


Issue Details: First known date: 2021... 2021 Poetry and “Post-Mabo Lysis” : John Kinsella on Property and Living on Aboriginal Land
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'John Kinsella is an important literary witness to the acknowledgement of native title in Australia, and Indigenous rights more generally. His writings also bear witness to continuing forces of resistance to those rights in Australian society. This paper traces Kinsella’s engagement with the Mabo case, the 1992 legal decision that recognised native title as part of Australian law, and rejected the fiction that Australia was terra nullius at the time of British colonisation. Focusing on “Graphology: Canto 5” and other texts, it argues that Kinsella presents a sustained reflection on the implications and the limits of this decision, in law and in wider cultural understandings and practices, through poetic allusions, paratexts and personal commentary. His writing since the mid-1990s reveals an acute awareness of how imported concepts of property and law are concealed within Western poetic traditions such as pastoral. To counter the effects of this ideology, Kinsella interpolates and appropriates terms from the discourse of property law, juxtaposing them against other ways of understanding and living in the land. In several collections, but especially in Jam Tree Gully, he seeks to develop an ethically reflective account of ownership of land taken from others, critiquing the dominant idea of property and articulating an alternative way of living in the land based on co-existence. The rights of the dispossessed traditional owners are central to a new mode of “writing the land.”' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Angelaki The Kinsellaverse : The Writing World of John Kinsella vol. 26 no. 2 Nicholas Birns (editor), Tony Hughes-d'Aeth (editor), 2021 21492030 2021 periodical issue criticism

    'Criticism on the work of John Kinsella is made particularly lively by the fact that Kinsella himself practices so much criticism, and self-criticism, in his poetry, fiction, and essays. This can make it, though, harder as well as easier for the critic to operate, to gain a foothold or angle of vision, to trace without trying to rival the primary author’s creativity, ingenuity, and verve. Also posing a daunting hurdle is the sheer stamina Kinsella has as an author; that he produces so much in so many different genres that, while always remaining in a coherent field of meaning, is consistently original and diverse.' (Nicholas Birns, A Type of House-Paint for All Weathers, introduction)

    'The extraordinary literary output of John Kinsella has thus far exceeded the capacity of criticism to deal with it. This special issue of Angelaki is an attempt to close the gap, but as the guest editors we are only too aware of how we must still fall short. This issue draws on a range of scholars who have followed Kinsella’s work, often over many years. While John Kinsella was born and grew up in the southwest of Western Australia, his reach has extended globally, particularly through the anglophone centres of Britain and the United States, but increasingly through other parts of the world including continental Europe and China. We will not attempt to catalogue Kinsella’s works here since, with Kinsella, such lists are almost immediately out of date. But more importantly, the totalising gesture of doing so runs against the basic ethos of Kinsella’s project. Despite its epic scale, Kinsella’s work always exists as an intervention and not an edifice. It has a negative capability, akin to the sublime and serial grandeur of paintings of the Last Judgement in Christian eschatology or the sprawling tableaux of medieval tapestry. But if his work is a tapestry, then Kinsella presents his images from the other side, as an assemblage of knots and ends. In this issue, we as critics have occasionally presumed to flip the work around and offer an image in more conventional terms, but readers will know that this procedure is something that must always remain critically contingent. (Tony Hughes-d'Aeth, The KinsellaVerse : The Writing World of John Kinsella, introduction)

    pg. 32-42
Last amended 9 Apr 2021 14:33:47
32-42 Poetry and “Post-Mabo Lysis” : John Kinsella on Property and Living on Aboriginal Landsmall AustLit logo Angelaki
    Powered by Trove