John Kinsella's memoir of his rural life takes us deep into the heart of what it means to belong and unbelong. The joys and travails of childhood, adult addictions, missteps and changing directions are acutely captured in poignant and poetic detail. While centred on Jam Tree Gully in rural Western Australia, the memoir also moves between Ohio, Schull and Cambridge, mixing regionalism with an international sense of responsibility. What will strike the reader are the detailed observations of daily life, the engagement with topography and ﬂora and fauna that embody the author's conviction that 'all is in everything and that every leaf of grass is vital'.
In his most intimate prose work to date, Kinsella never shies from writing about the violence and intolerance of those scared of difference, and the ways in which his ethics have sometimes been met with disdain or outright hostility. But with nuance and humour he also celebrates rural community and its willingness to lend a hand.
At once tender, urgent and intelligent, Displaced is ultimately a call to personal action. 'We all have choices to make.' It argues through it vivid accounts of small acts of living for the values of pacifsm, veganism, environmentalism and justice for First Nations peoples – the principles we just might need to heal our world.
John Kinsella is an award-winning Australian author. He lives with his partner, the author Tracy Ryan, and their son Tim at Jam Tree Gully, Western Australia.
Author: John Kinsella
Question: What originally inspired you to write your memoir?
John Kinsella: The belief that the rural life can accommodate great difference. I believe in peaceful co-existence, in tolerance, and in trying to live a life that respects the natural environment and doesn't damage it further. I have lived in many places in the world, and they have mostly been rural or 'country' or 'regional' in differing ways, and the place I have spent most of my time is the Western Australian wheatbelt where I live at Jam Tree Gully with my family. I wanted to talk about the similarities and differences of those experiences. I have a deep core belief that traditional owners are the custodians of the land, and should be consulted wherever possible about all matters pertaining to country, and where it's not intrusive, in all things. I don't believe in property, but I do believe in First Peoples' rights over their own country. I consider how I can belong and how I cannot belong in the light of this.
Question: Who do you hope reads Displaced?
John Kinsella: I hope this is a book for everyone " it's a book about respect, doing less damage to the world, about non-violent ways of approaching protest and justice. It's about the health of the biosphere.
Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing Displaced?
John Kinsella: I am always learning about myself as a I write. Really, in the end, I learn that this is just my journey, sometimes shared with others, often in kinship with family, but it's still just my journey: each of us has our own story and our way of telling that story.
Question: Was it difficult reliving certain aspects/times of your life, whilst writing Displaced?
John Kinsella: Not so much because I have a definitive moment of becoming sober and this book is really a story of living a vegan pacifist anarchist life with those I love and respect. There are always moments of confrontation and challenge, but they are part of a life, maybe especially of an 'activist life'.
Question: What book are you reading, right now?
John Kinsella: Many books, as always, and often I am rereading as well as absorbing new works (for me). I've just finished Richard Wright's The Long Dream and Sam Hamill's translation of Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Interior: And Other Writings. Basho is a poet one re-encounters again and again.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: John Kinsella