Poets at war with words

In a truly bizarre war of the proses, three Australian poets are battling it out with words. You’d think it was something from days of yore, but it’s real and happening right now.

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that award-winning poet John Kinsella has made waves with his memoir Fast Loose Beginnings: a memoir of intoxications.

Apparently, two other prominent poets are rather upset about what they consider to be complete fabrications in the memoir where Kinsella tells stories about drug taking, carousing and watching pornography. The two disgruntled poets, Anthony Lawrence and Robert Adamson, began sending emails to Kinsella that threatened disruption of Kinsella’s public appearances and, according to Kinsella, contained thinly veiled threats of physical violence.

The best bit about all this is that, being poets, these supposed threats were all made in the most flowery and flamboyant language and sometimes in verse. For example:

It is a death-clicking beetle
Can you hear it at work inside the fast-tracking of your emails
Inside the cold enamel of your smile?
Keep your enemies close at hand
The shroud has no pockets

Seriously, only another poet could feel threatened by that. Another email contained:

Deep Regret is the name of an ocean they’ve found, five miles under the ice at Antarctica. You’re about to enter it. Are you ready?

They’re going to take him to Antarctica and dig a five mile hole in the ice to throw him into? Surely not.

Anyway, Kinsella took his fears to court and was successful in gaining restraining orders against Lawrence and Adamson. A move they claim is preposterous and nothing more than a publicity stunt by a master of self-marketing. They admit that they think his book is “bullshit… inaccurate… badly written” and that he has “betrayed his friends”, and they admit they planned to disrupt his public appearances with signs written in red. One sign they planned was to have said, “John Kinsella uses live bait” as that would have upset Kinsella considering the fact that he’s a vegan. Ooh, those poets really know how to twist the knife.

And anyway, what are they so upset about? Aren’t poets supposed to be the sort of tortured souls that seek enlightenment to the human condition through substance abuse and carousing? The whole thing has become rather too absurd. Really, it beggars belief. Long may it continue!

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