VISITANTS by John Kinsella


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Kinsella, one of Australia's leading and most popular poets, has a long and distinguished poetic and editorial career. His bibliography reaches back to the early 1980s and his work, and a few of the poems in this collection have been `abducted` from his other books and from his play Crop Circles. For Kinsella, religion, poetry, and myth all arise from the same wellspring: each signifies an attempt by frail humanity to explain an often inexplicably confusing cosmos, and while the expression of this impulse varies from age to age, its importance never diminishes. As an old farmer in the Outback puts it, `People feel depleted and need something to absorb the emptiness.` Kinsella presents a number of the beliefs and ideas concocted in our time to fill this spiritual void. None has gained a sufficient number of adherents to move into the mainstream: glowing objects in the night sky, alien abductions, the Bermuda Triangle, telekinesis, hauntings, and all manner of phenomena in which `words failing facts` produce both believers and denigrators. The notions expressed in this collection, and the characters who voice them, remain very much on the fringe—even after more than a half-century of UFO lore and news reports. In one particularly chilling poem, kidnapping by aliens is juxtaposed with a child's abduction by a faceless man in a dark car. Kinsella assembles a range of work of varying quality clustered around the theme of strangeness.

Those poems drawing on childhood recollections and Kinsella’s own experiences among Australia's alien landscapes are the more successful. In others, the verses are disjointed, as though mangled in a balky robotic translator.

Pub Date: April 28th, 2000
ISBN: 1-85224-505-0
Page count: 96pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000