Not too many Australian poets get to the celebrity status you need for a memoir to get published; Les Murray maybe, perhaps a Dorothy Hewett or Robert Adamson? So it’s good to see John Kinsella’s ‘memoir of intoxications’, Fast Loose Beginnings, coming out of Melbourne University Press this month. Looking forward to getting a copy.
The web site says:
‘Kinsella is a prodigy of the imagination . . .We are poised before what I prophesy will be a major art.’
‘Bob bursts in, crazed and jealous, his hair jolting with static. He is raggedly dressed and keeps saying wildly ‘Fuck, man’ and ‘Dylan is fucking great. He’s seen the abyss, he knows the beast.’ He looks at Dorothy Hewett and starts screaming at me that I am a traitor. . . And so begins a long pattern that will define Bob’s andmy up-and-down relationship. Dorothy thought I was dangerous; and back then, I probably was . . .’
Fast, Loose Beginnings is a racy anecdotal memoir of John Kinsella’s meetings with the great and colourful men and women of poetry. Since his late teens, Kinsella has been rubbing shoulders and working with a host of acclaimed poets. The book opens with Kinsella on a bender in search of Dorothy Hewett, and goes on to tell the story of his friendships and massive fallings-out through the highs and lows of addiction.
In this contentious account, Kinsella weaves his impressions of these figures personally, with a lively and incisive commentary on their place within the broader literary culture. Here, in good company, are intimate portraits of Dorothy Hewett, Les Murray, American literary critic Harold Bloom and French philosopher Jacques Derrida, as they have never been seen before. As a highly respected poet and critic, Kinsella brings clarity and biting irreverence to the writer’s life, making this encounter with literature vividly alive.