The Cortland Review


Gibbons Ruark
Seen Through a Temperament: Gibbons Ruark on painting with words.

Pattiann Rogers
A Day in the Life: Pattiann Rogers gives us a glimpse of a day in her life.

John Kinsella
Manifesto - Against Violence: The latest installment in John Kinsella's exclusive autobiographical series.

John Kinsella

John Kinsella is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, most recently, The Hunt and Poems 1980-1994. His work has appeared in Poetry and The Paris Review, among many others. As well, he is the editor of Salt. Currently, he teaches at Cambridge University in England.

Manifesto—Against Violence


The fusion of music and action vis-�-vis the adrenalin rush of The Dead Kennedys fused with the social ethics of Crass as Perth got smaller and smaller though the power of the State increased daily and the frustration built and whites in their white houses seemed to have nothing to give so you hung out with Nyoongahs who said fuck them all and you got into music and urban politics and drank and smoked and crashed out in their houses and said fuck the Jindyworobaks whatever good intentions they had and became a brother and a cousin and wandered around to Jack's with David and Michael and David said write me a play and I said I'm writing you a play which was found only recently in a notebook environmentally sound called Paydirt
and set in the old Railway Hotel that wasn't about The Land but about The City and that was before David went on to act as Pretty Boy Floyd in Blackfellas but after he broke some white bastard's legs with his didge when he and a group of mates were attacked in Kwinana but that was years back and I've probably got it wrong because I was drunk on Kirup Syrup when he told me in a place called the Stoned Crow just before I moved in with Julie who was barmaid and into the blues and ragtime in a big way and wasn't interested in words such as the revolution by abolishing government and private property will not create forces that did not exist but it will leave the way open for the development of available forces and talents will destroy every class with an interest in keeping the masses in a state of brutishness and will ensure that everyone will be able to act and to influence according to his abilities his enthusiasms and his interests wrote Malatesta in Anarchy and I'm sure I heard it quoted in a meeting of the Fremantle anarchist group or read it in their publication News from Nowhere an edition of which I was originally given by a friend who liked Miles Davis and Kropotkin and who like myself believed that only the decentralization of the state fragmentation of the state into small communities would ensure at least a measure of equality and representation and increase the likelihood of the natural environment persisting beyond the next few generations but he was milder than I at that time and my anger couldn't be buried beneath the purple paint that Cathy had covered the walls of our condemned house with in Fremantle where Lou Reed and Nina Hagen scratched their way around a turntable surrounded by tequila bottles and the paraphernalia of loss and decline and the bed rank with winter became one with the floor became one with the four or five anarchists crashed out after being told they were nihilists and had no place in the group spray-painting the fist and broken gun with its logo break the state as they played Itchycoo Park over and over and begged in the streets of Fremantle and wouldn't play ball with the anti-nuke senator who said one shouldn't protest against the cause but the effect leaving you in the cells after some guy you went to school with dressed in a blue uniform said if you say that again I'll lock you up and he did as the cameras zoomed in and a brief wave sent you to rot in the cells where deaths in custody were a regular activity and you watched a young black bloke being tossed around in a circle growing limper and limper with each contact to face the courts alone as the clique of sycophants increased her public profile and sowed the seeds of her rejecting your friend who rode the white beast into her midst and declared himself Christ and said it is time to go forth and spread the message who was working his way towards veganism who came out of India without his lover and fell to despair and water as Jack Van Tongeren's racists bombed Chinese restaurants and attacked you at protests or as you scraped their anti-Semitic and anti-Asian posters from telegraph poles and brick walls as they broke the foot of a girl standing right next to you just before they and he got locked up for life once they'd dug him out of his sandbagged bunker in the suburbs but epitomized the numerous gun freaks and racists who inhabit the brick and tile houses of Perth who might visit the Fremantle Fitness Centre for a full body workout on pay-day the Mistress not being fussy about her clientele as Cathy said liberate yourselves girls don't sleep with these fascist bastards and got chucked out by a neatly dressed security man or failing the Fitness test they might just end up at a barbecue with work mates on Sunday arvo or visit sawmills on a character-building expedition into the Southwest forests as somewhere this story stops being mine and probably becomes a fiction but I'm not sure where and how much truth gives way but a fiction generates its own truths so that's the wrong word maybe alternative fictions as there is an end to all of this but only because the text wants to keep going its enthusiasm bringing about its collapse we're in the poem the morning air is sharp and the sky deep blue and objects are harsh with definition as we are rising up and out of the valley while below the shack sits on its twenty acres with the creek cold and sharp at the bottom with Bull and Jenny sitting on the high ground on the other side making peach pie the orchard heavy and the fruit fly having not struck and Allen is next door working on his bike here and now and we can hear the revs of the Triumph on the other side of the valley wall you've climbed is Bridgetown which looks like a European village some say this is a selling point as the smoke is of course rising from the chimneys in thin defined wisps the sound of barrels being rolled out of the pub and things are moving up a gear the valley top a Rubicon as we gives way to they in town we are "fleas" "dykes" and "scum" and quotation marks float like seagulls but it's too far inland so maybe they're more like crows or the knee-jerk reaction of pub politics of a few too many of crops grown in forests as dreadlocks grow longer and holes in clothing fray a little more as the town watches as the city spreads out and social security wants to know what it's all about this poisoned water tank this note say you've been read by the watchers the local lads the boys coming up and over from the town hell-bent on digging out the organic vegetables and trashing the shack and burning Dante and breaking your backs or poisoning you and driving you out out onto the logging roads where the semi-trailers and stock trucks dragged red OVERLENGTH flags through the heart of the market economy as drivers enjoyed overtaking lanes every five kilometres some even waving appreciatively and asking themselves was it Blanchot who said passivity is a task and then as uncertainty sets in questioning the context knowing like all registered voters that context is everything.

John Kinsella
TCR October 1999 Feature


� 2002 The Cortland Review