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Economies of Poetic Production: The Poetry of Thomas Kinsella

  • Heather H. Yeung
Chapter
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Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)

Abstract

Thomas Kinsella opens his Peppercanister volume Readings in Poetry (2006) defiantly, quoting apparently at random from William Morris’s poem “The Defence of Guenevere” (1858). Kinsella uses selections from Morris’s poem to diagnose a “verbal excess,” which “dissipates in slackness” (TKRP: 10) as characteristic of the poem as a whole. Through this criticism, Kinsella implicitly questions what he calls Morris’ “established reputation, [ his] place in literary history” (9), also calling into question the value of the whole system (a mixture of literary reputation, production, and history). Kinsella goes on to level similar criticisms at Henry Thoreau’s poetic output, some poems from which he chooses to follow the selections from “The Defence of Guenevere.” Thoreau’s poems are adjudged “vapid, virtually automatic utterances from a commonplace sensibility, characterised by an intellectual, sensual, imaginative, and technical disorder, they disintegrate under the slightest of rational demands” (13). It is no accident that Kinsella has chosen two poets as well-known for their thought as for their poetic output, thus placing their own poetic articulations of their thought systems tacitly against his own. Poetic and philosophical competition is an undercurrent to much of Kinsella’s thought, in a similar way as we have seen staged Ian Hamilton Finlay’s poetico-philosophical interaction with Enlightenment thinking.

Keywords

Peripheral Vision Technical Supplement Autopoietic System Affective Engagement Established Reputation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ann Carson, Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Keos with Paul Celan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999): 25.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Autopoesis and Cognition: The Realisation of the Living (Boston: Springer, 1980): 94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
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    Julia C. Obert, “Place and Trace: Thomas Kinsella’s Postcolonial Placelore,” New Hibernia Review 13.4 (2009): 79.Google Scholar
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    Derek Attridge, Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
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    Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (London: Blackwell, 2008): 102.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Kinsella, interview with John Haffenden. In Haffenden, Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden (London: Faber and Faber, 1981): 104.Google Scholar
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    Louis de Broquy, “Artists Note,” in The Tain, trans. Thomas Kinsella (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970): viii.Google Scholar
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    18. Quoted in Kinsella, A Technical Supplement (Dublin: Peppercanister, 1976): n.p.Google Scholar
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© Heather H. Yeung 2015

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  • Heather H. Yeung

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