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  • Author:agent John Kinsella http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/kinsella-john
Issue Details: First known date: 1997... 1997 Genre
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Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • South Fremantle, Fremantle area, South West Perth, Perth, Western Australia,: Fremantle Press , 1997 .
      Extent: 318p.
      Note/s:
      • Dedication: For Tracy Ryan and Jacques Derrida.
      ISBN: 1863681922 (Pbk)

Works about this Work

John Kinsella as Life Writer the Poetics of Dirt David McCooey , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: Angelaki , vol. 26 no. 2 2021; (p. 92-103)

'Life writing is ubiquitous in John Kinsella’s vast oeuvre. Kinsella’s employment of the diversity of modes collected under the rubric of “life writing” is underpinned by a “poetics of dirt.” Such a poetics is visible in the central role that material dirt (as both pollution and terrain) plays in Kinsella’s work, as well as the more general concept of impurity, as seen in Kinsella’s poetic trafficking in ideas concerning transgression, liminality, hybridity, and danger. In Purity and Danger (1966), the anthropologist Mary Douglas famously defined dirt as “matter out of place.” In the poem “Dirt” (from Kinsella’s 2014 collection Sack), dirt remains understandable as matter out of place, but it also becomes radically mobile, its material and symbolic weight subject to unexpected transformations. The eponymous dirt in Kinsella’s poem is being carted from one place to another by the poet’s near neighbour for “purposes unknown.” This “shitload of dirt,” dumped onto the dirt of the valley’s floor, makes its way into the disturbingly porous bodies – both human and non-human – around it. It is “something you sense in arteries” and “the haze / that lights and encompasses us all.” This poem can be taken as a metonym for Kinsella’s entire literary oeuvre. Employing his “poetics of dirt,” Kinsella attends to the dispossessed dirt of a post/colonial nation; the dirt of contemporary farming practices; the dirt of official and vernacular languages; and the dirt of personal secrets. This essay argues that Kinsella’s “poetics of dirt” cannot be disambiguated from his activist poetics, and the profoundly auto/biographical nature of his writing. Attending to postcolonial theory and life-writing studies, this essay analyses how Kinsella thematises dirt as central to both life writing (in prose and poetry) and a life of writing. In doing so, it considers dirt as something not simply “out of place,” but – in a postcolonial, post-sacred, and late-capitalist world – endlessly mobile, unstable, and transformative, moving between material and discursive realities in newly complex ways. By attending to dirt (both as matter and as pollutant) within the context of his various auto/biographical projects, Kinsella conspicuously draws attention to the relationship between the human and the material, profoundly questioning – in a way akin to a “new materialist” perspective – the consequences of a human-centred ontology. At its most radical, the “poetics of dirt” found in Kinsella’s life writing posits a world in which human subjectivity is not the only agental force in the material world.' (Publication abstract)

"Where the Said and the Unsaid Meet" : Interview with John Kinsella at Kenyon College: 8 May 2001 Mark Klemens (interviewer), 2001 single work interview
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 15 no. 2 2001; (p. 76-85)
Generator : Thinking Through John Kinsella's "Genre" McKenzie Wark , 2000 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fairly Obsessive : Essays on the Works of John Kinsella 2000; (p. 250-273)
Seeing Straight : John Kinsella's "Genre" (1997) Nigel Wheale , 2000 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fairly Obsessive : Essays on the Works of John Kinsella 2000; (p. 236-249)
"Aggressive Experiment" Turns Out to Be Fairly Familiar Tom Bishop , 1998 single work review
— Appears in: Antipodes , June vol. 12 no. 1 1998; (p. 51)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel
Supreme Self-Indulgent Stew Alan Wearne , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 19 July 1997; (p. wkd 8)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel
Writing as an Act of Purification S. K. Kelen , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 4 October 1997; (p. C10)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel
Custodian of Seeing Barbara Brooks , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 196 1997; (p. 46)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel
Hybridities and Bastards Dean Kiley , 1998 single work review
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 150 1998; (p. 112-113)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel ; Mortal Divide : The Autobiography Of Yiorgos Alexandrolou George Alexander , 1997 single work novel autobiography ; The Prince Tim Richards , 1997 single work novel
Untitled Dominic Fitzsimmons , 1998 single work review
— Appears in: Cordite : Poetry and Poetics Review , no. 3 1998; (p. 19-20)

— Review of Genre John Kinsella , 1997 single work novel
Genre Bender McKenzie Wark , 1997 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian , 10 December 1997; (p. 32)
Seeing Straight : John Kinsella's "Genre" (1997) Nigel Wheale , 2000 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fairly Obsessive : Essays on the Works of John Kinsella 2000; (p. 236-249)
Generator : Thinking Through John Kinsella's "Genre" McKenzie Wark , 2000 single work criticism
— Appears in: Fairly Obsessive : Essays on the Works of John Kinsella 2000; (p. 250-273)
"Where the Said and the Unsaid Meet" : Interview with John Kinsella at Kenyon College: 8 May 2001 Mark Klemens (interviewer), 2001 single work interview
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 15 no. 2 2001; (p. 76-85)
John Kinsella as Life Writer the Poetics of Dirt David McCooey , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: Angelaki , vol. 26 no. 2 2021; (p. 92-103)

'Life writing is ubiquitous in John Kinsella’s vast oeuvre. Kinsella’s employment of the diversity of modes collected under the rubric of “life writing” is underpinned by a “poetics of dirt.” Such a poetics is visible in the central role that material dirt (as both pollution and terrain) plays in Kinsella’s work, as well as the more general concept of impurity, as seen in Kinsella’s poetic trafficking in ideas concerning transgression, liminality, hybridity, and danger. In Purity and Danger (1966), the anthropologist Mary Douglas famously defined dirt as “matter out of place.” In the poem “Dirt” (from Kinsella’s 2014 collection Sack), dirt remains understandable as matter out of place, but it also becomes radically mobile, its material and symbolic weight subject to unexpected transformations. The eponymous dirt in Kinsella’s poem is being carted from one place to another by the poet’s near neighbour for “purposes unknown.” This “shitload of dirt,” dumped onto the dirt of the valley’s floor, makes its way into the disturbingly porous bodies – both human and non-human – around it. It is “something you sense in arteries” and “the haze / that lights and encompasses us all.” This poem can be taken as a metonym for Kinsella’s entire literary oeuvre. Employing his “poetics of dirt,” Kinsella attends to the dispossessed dirt of a post/colonial nation; the dirt of contemporary farming practices; the dirt of official and vernacular languages; and the dirt of personal secrets. This essay argues that Kinsella’s “poetics of dirt” cannot be disambiguated from his activist poetics, and the profoundly auto/biographical nature of his writing. Attending to postcolonial theory and life-writing studies, this essay analyses how Kinsella thematises dirt as central to both life writing (in prose and poetry) and a life of writing. In doing so, it considers dirt as something not simply “out of place,” but – in a postcolonial, post-sacred, and late-capitalist world – endlessly mobile, unstable, and transformative, moving between material and discursive realities in newly complex ways. By attending to dirt (both as matter and as pollutant) within the context of his various auto/biographical projects, Kinsella conspicuously draws attention to the relationship between the human and the material, profoundly questioning – in a way akin to a “new materialist” perspective – the consequences of a human-centred ontology. At its most radical, the “poetics of dirt” found in Kinsella’s life writing posits a world in which human subjectivity is not the only agental force in the material world.' (Publication abstract)

Last amended 13 May 2005 15:00:51
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