John Kinsella

(1963 - / Perth /Australia)

Biography of John Kinsella

John Kinsella poet

John Kinsella (born 1963) is an Australian poet, novelist, critic, essayist and editor. His writing is strongly influenced by landscape, and he espouses an 'international regionalism' in his approach to place. He has also frequently worked in collaboration with other writers, artists and musicians.

Early Life and Work

Kinsella was born in Perth, Western Australia. His mother was a poet and he began writing poetry as a child. He cites Judith Wright among his early influences. Before becoming a full-time writer, teacher and editor he worked in a variety of places, including laboratories, a fertiliser factory and on farms.

Later Poetry and Writing

Kinsella has published over thirty books and his many awards include three Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry, the John Bray Award for Poetry, and the 2008 Christopher Brennan Award.

His poems have appeared in journals such as Stand, The Times Literary Supplement, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Antipodes. His poetry collections include: Poems 1980-1994, The Silo, The Undertow: New & Selected Poems, Visitants (1999), Wheatlands (with Dorothy Hewett, 2000) and The Hierarchy of Sheep (2001). His most recent book, Peripheral Light: New and Selected Poems, includes an introduction by Harold Bloom and his next poetry collection, The New Arcadia, was published in June 2005.

Kinsella is a vegan and has written about the ethics of vegetarianism. In 2001 he published a book of autobiographical writing, called Auto. He has also written plays, short stories and the novels Genre and Post-colonial.

Kinsella teaches at Cambridge University, where he is a Fellow of Churchill College. Previously, he was Professor of English at Kenyon College, USA, where he was the Richard L Thomas Professor of Creative Writing in 2001.

Kinsella's manuscripts are housed in the University of Western Australia, the National Library of Australia, the University of New South Wales, Kenyon College and the University of Leeds. The main collection is in the Scholars' Centre of the University of Western Australia Library.

Kinsella's latest book, Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley, was published in 2010 by Liverpool University Press, and is edited by Niall Lucy.

Work as an Editor and Critic

Kinsella is a founding editor of the literary journal Salt and international editor of The Kenyon Review. He co-edited a special issue on Australian poetry for the American journal Poetry and various other issues of international journals. He is a poetry critic for The Observer and an editorial consultant for Westerly.

John Kinsella's Works:

Poetry Collections

Night Parrots (1989)
The Book of Two Faces: Poems (1989)
Ultramarine: Poems (1991)
Eschatologies (1991)
Poems (1991)
Full Fathom Five (1993)
Syzygy (1993)
The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony: Poems (1995)
Erratum / Frame(d) (1995)
Intensities of Blue: poems (1995)
The Radnoti Poems (1996)
Lightning Tree (1996)
The Undertow: new and selected poems (1996)
Poems, 1980-1994 (1997)
Lines of Sight (1997)
The Hunt and Other Poems (1998)
Pine: poems (1998)
Counter-Pastoral (1999)
Visitants (1999)
Fenland Pastorals (1999)
Zone (2000)
Wheatlands (2000)
The Hierarchy of Sheep (2001)
Rivers (2002)
Peripheral Light: New and Selected Poems (2003)
Doppler Effect (2004)
The New Arcadia (2005)
Love Sonnets (2006)
America, or Glow: (A Poem) (2006)
Divine Comedy: Journeys Through Regional Geography (2008)
Shades of the Sublime and Beautiful (2008)
Jam Tree Gully (2011)


Genre (1997)
"Post-colonial" (2009)


Divinations: four plays (2003)


Contrary Rhetoric : Lectures on Landscape and Language (2008)

Short Story Collections

Grappling Eros: fiction (1998)
Conspiracies (2003)


The Bird Catcher's Song : A Salt Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (1992)
Sightings: poems for International PEN 62nd World Congress (1995)
Landbridge: Contemporary Australian Poetry (1999)
The Owner of My Face : New and Selected Poems (2002)
Michael Dransfield : A Retrospective (2002)
Western Australian Writing : An Online Anthology (2003)
School Days (2006)
Dreamhoard: Pipe Dreams, Daydreams, Reveries and Nightmares (2008)
Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia (2008)
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2009)


Auto (2001)
Fast, Loose Beginnings: A Memoir of Intoxications (2006)

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Drowning In Wheat

They’d been warned
on every farm
that playing
in the silos
would lead to death.
You sink in wheat.
Slowly. And the more
you struggle the worse it gets.
‘You’ll see a rat sail past

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