University of Western Australia: UWAP writers release new books ahead of Festival appearances

Two Western Australian authors, who are drawn to history and a sense of place, will be guests at Perth Festival Writers Weekend after publishing new works.

John Kinsella’s The Ascension of Sheep, UWA Publishing, is the first of three volumes of Collected Poems that dates back to when he was aged 17 in 1980 and moves on through 41-plus years of writing.

Kinsella’s major poetic concerns have been how to write place without claiming place (he acknowledges he lives on stolen Aboriginal land), how to write of being part of many place-experiences at once, and how to write the biosphere with ecological and humanitarian justice in mind.

Kinsella, who lives with his family in the Wheatbelt, is always attuned to the natural world and his activist poetry examines how humans respond to a world that they have placed under pressure.

Josh Kemp and John KinsellaImage: Writers Josh Kemp and John Kinsella.

Josh Kemp was the winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for Strangest Places which has now been published as Banjawarn by UWA Publishing.

Kemp is an author of Australian gothic fiction who lives in the South West of WA but is drawn to the red dirt of the state’s north.

Banjawarn, his debut novel, is a taut modern Western Australian western; a frontier novel that captures the problematic quality of settler Australia.

The book explores the fraught relationship between white Australia and the land, as well as the need for our society to reckon with the horrors in our colonial history.

It also interrogates the mental health crisis in Australia, and how this is often indubitably linked with hard drug use.

“Banjawarn is an Australian gothic novel where a true crime writer goes to Kalgoorlie under the pretence of visiting an old friend,” Kemp said.

“When he arrives, he finds a 10-year-old girl who has been abandoned and takes it upon himself to return her to her father. Then begins a road trip from hell.”

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