August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Interview with John Kinsella by Eirin Hope Broch
John’s shared blog.
1. Could you explain your relationship with nature and why you express yourself using nature in your poetry?
I consider myself an ecological rather than a nature poet. I believe humans are only a part of the world, and not superior to other living things. I am a vegan and do not use animals to benefit my own existence. For me, animals have equal rights to humans. If the environment is unhealthy, so are people. My poetry is an activist call to conserve and respect ‘nature’. For me, nature isn’t a decoration for human amusement but has its own multiplicity of rights and identities.
2. On your website you say that “I believe that the ‘control’ of language is the most significant factor in resisting colonisation, invasion and, oppression.” Could you explain this further?
Colonisers always take/delete/remodel the languages of the people they are robbing and oppressing. Identity is forged in language and if one can retain language the coloniser never gains complete control and will ultimately change themselves or fail.
3. You are clearly active in politics and society. How do you want your poetry to contribute?
Poetry’s purpose, for me, is to bring people’s attentions to the injustices and damage/s being done to and in the world. I wish my poetry to serve a purpose – I have no interest in in being adornments to entertain or satisfy people. It should disturb them, prompt them to question their own certainties.
4. Could you describe the process of writing a poem? Does it just “come to you”, do you edit and re-edit and for how long can you work on one poem?
I have many methods. Sometimes I see an entire poem visually inside my head and then ‘copy it out’. Often I take ‘field notes’ in a journal, type up on a manual typewriter, then wordprocess for publication. I don’t admire computers (though I know a fair bit about them). I frequently draft, and often rewrite. Sometimes not. A poem is never ‘finished’ for me. It can always have different lives.
5. How has your writing developed since you first started? Has the way you think or work changed?
I started writing poetry as a very small child so it naturally changed as I matured. As time has gone by, I’ve tended to work in larger ‘units’. I have always been driven by a purpose. Poetry has never been an entertainment for me.
6. Why do you choose to write in free verse?
I write in all forms. I have written a lot of verse in so-called traditional forms, but only ever to challenge form itself. I write a lot in open form. I develop forms to suit a purpose. I am always trying to test language and its constraints. I don’t only write in ‘free verse’ – never have. Form has many definitions and I am always trying to challenge those. Sometimes people don’t recognise form because they’re not familiar with what’s going on or because they’re not used to looking for difference. My work is about variations.
7. There seems to be a darkness in many of your poems. Is this a critique of how people treat nature?
Yes. And each other.
8. What would be your advise to young poets trying to get published?
Never give in. If you believe in what you’re doing, do it. You don’t need publishers to publish yourself. Do it because you need to do it.
9. What other poets/writers do you like to read?
Too many to name. I read constantly. Reading the poetry of others is better than writing poetry one’s self! At the moment I am working on very long poem entitled Paradise Lust. I’ve loved Milton since I was seven. But he also needs challenging. His Lost is the world’s Lust, as well. We all need challenging by someone (or many), not the least ourselves.