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Brimstone: A Book of Villanelles

by John Kinsella

Using this poetic form (of five 3-line stanzas and a final quatrain) throughout to great effect, John Kinsella's latest collection is a work of ecological and political passion. The birds and animals of Western Australia, its landscape of vibrant colours and panoply of sounds are described in vivid detail, so much so that the reader almost feels part of this antipodean environment. And it is the ecological destruction of the environment and the politics behind it that are the target of the poet's rage and frustration. This is indeed a powerful and necessary work from a powerful and necessary poet who believes that poetry is one the most effective activist modes of expression and resistance we have.

Kinsella has mastered a politically fearless
language, a language that uses a cumulative rhetoric
and powerful modes of address,
that operates with satiric empathy as it captures
unthinking or self-centred complicity,
that conjures the natural world into
visceral existence, and that calls out enemies
with a dynamic force of loathing:
a democratically vibrant language.

London Magazine

A striking feature of Kinsella’s highly political
poetry [is that] while it is concerned with
what Kavanagh termed the ‘local row’…
it also takes a globalised view…
so that the poems’ perspective never rests
either on the particular or the abstract,
but shifts constantly between the two.

The Irish Times


978 1908376 09-1 (pbk)
978 1910345 09 2 (ebk)
Published August 2020

» About John Kinsella