The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony.
The title of this new collection, The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony, is meant to invoke Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and the book's division into five sections reinforces the sense of symphonic composition. Overall, however, the structure seems attenuated, almost unnecessary, and yet there is still a strong sense that - individually - the poems are working within a particular mode or key. It is the same key in which we find similar evocations of the rough life of rural Australia - in the work, for instance, of Les Murray and the late Philip Hodgins. Where Murray writes of rural New South Wales and Hodgins of Victoria, Kinsella depicts the pastoral lands of Western Australia. In Kinsella's poetry these are lands marked by isolation and mundane violence and by a terrible transcendent beauty. The poems are variously inflected to present the fullness of Kinsella's vision, and there is a pleasing variety of poetic forms deployed, from limpid narratives to complex formal structures (a sestina, a villanelle). No longer a young poet of promise, Kinsella has entered into his mature voice - a voice that must from now on be attended to by readers of poetry.
In poems such as "Rock Picking: Building Cairns," "The Well as Entry into the Overworld," "Shootings," "Essay on Myxomatosis," "Fog," "Winter Parrots," and numerous others, one is forced by Kinsella's poetry to confront a world which is foreign and yet deeply familiar - a cognitive tension or strain that is evident in the verse itself, with its remarkable range of diction and rhythmic energy. As one proceeds through the book, the poems begin to stand in a resonant relation to one another and to take on a collective meaning - or meaningfulness - that they are not likely to achieve singularly (though several are so successful they will clearly live beyond the bounds of this collection).
The Silo is a book to read through, both in the sense of finishing in a single reading and in the sense of working through the poems to the impetus - the source - of their passionate surfaces.
Paul Kane Vassar College
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|Author:||Simon, Paul (American singer)|
|Publication:||World Literature Today|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1996|
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