Harold Bloom is one of those scary old men of literature, so well read that he’s intimidating. You get the impression he thinks Shakespeare was pretty much the son of God, and that everyone should know his complete works by heart. Unfashionably, he believes there’s such a thing as Great Literature, and when you become really well-read, you can pick it.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I was amazed to find Harold Bloom himself selecting the poems for John Kinsella’s collection Peripheral Light and also writing an introduction. An endorsement from Bloom is a rare thing indeed. He’s not one to heap praise on many living writers.
And here he is endorsingJohn Kinsella, a poet who grew up in W.A.! Kinsella’s still only 44, but he’s already got a huge reputation.
His website is fascinating; it’s only a pity he hasn’t updated it since 2005. It’s got a biography and an alternative biography where he describes himself like this:
I am a vegan anarchist pacifist
(I like it when someone’s prepared to label themselves.) He’s also got interviews he’s done with interesting people like Coral Hull and Bruce Dawe; a piece of art he did and a couple of essays, including one on veganism.
There’s only a couple of poems in the poems section, but then there’s the manuscript section where he’s provided pdfs of his manuscript for Peripheral Light at two different stages, complete with his red pen editing. It’s great to have that insight into a writer’s work – I find it generous of him to put them up.
If your local public library doesn’t have Peripheral Light, it can order it in for you.