Poet John Kinsella fills Thomas chair

Australian poet John Kinsella visited Kenyon in October to present a Common Hour lecture and work with the staff of the Kenyon Review on this spring's issue devoted to Nobel Prize winners. He also met with students who will be enrolled in his poetry class this spring, when he joins the faculty as the College's first Richard L. Thomas '53 Visiting Professor of Creative Writing.

A fellow of Churchill College at Cambridge University, Kinsella is the editor of Stand, a leading British literary journal, which is collaborating with the Review in the joint publication of a comprehensive collection of works by and about those who have won the Nobel Prize. He also serves as the international editor for the Review.

"John Kinsella's poetry is striking for its scope," says Luce Professor of Art and Politics Lewis Hyde. "He's familiar with the range of voices in poetry today, but rather than taking sides in current poetic battles, he brings the battles into the work, letting them complicate and deepen his voice."

According to Associate Professor of English and Editor of the Review David H. Lynn '76, the Review began to develop a relationship with Kinsella when it first published his work several years ago. "Kinsella's reputation on an international level is beginning to explode," says Lynn. "He has a manic energy about him. He's producing tremendous amounts of work."

The publication of his book Night Parrots in 1989 marked Kinsella's promising entry onto the literary scene. In the space of ten years, he has published twenty books of poetry, fiction, and a verse play, Crop Circles, in production by Melbourne's Playbox Theater. In addition to his writing, Kinsella devotes time to editing and publishing the work of other poets and to teaching Australian literature.

"John Kinsella is a prodigy-a kind of fountain Parnassus all in himself," says literary critic Harold Bloom. "His range, his cognitive music, has variety are unique in a poet of his age in the English-speaking world today. There are only a handful (or fewer) of English language poets of his generation whose work is already so original, so fully formed, and so clearly destined to become part of the central tradition."

A native of Perth, Kinsella attended the University of Western Australia. During childhood and later, he worked on the wheat-growing and sheep-farming properties of his uncles and brother. These landscapes form a touchstone of external reality to which his work returns again and again.

The Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing was created in 1998 when Thomas, a long-time member of the College's Board of Trustees and its former chair, made an out-right gift of $1.5 million to fund the chair. His deferred gift of $3.5 million will provide endowment for scholarships. The chair will be held by Hyde beginning next fall semester and every fall semester thereafter, with a different Thomas Visiting Professor each spring semester.

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