The pastoral and modernity: AUTO visitants hunt as textual investigation of self and poetry

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Andrew Taylor

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Glen Phillips


AUTO is a prose work about poetry and the “growth of the poet’s imagination”, to quote The Poet. A poet? If we remember correctly. Reference? Is/was that how it should be worded? Maybe this is a mistake? But an error is a textual truth in itself. It tells us something. AUTO. It is also a metatextual work that is concerned with its own means of production. The voice of self shifts position in relation to the construction of narratives. Stories are told, anecdotes conveyed, portraits suggested. The autobiographical voice is as much an onlooker as the centre of activity. AUTO is a text about the nature of memory, about recall and remembering. There are many possible pasts, and the text moves in and out of alternatives constructions. There is repetition and reconsideration – situations and occasions are examined from different angles. Even footnotes become part of the text. Recall is both historic and mythological – truth and fiction struggle to define and declare themselves, or subvert each other. Poetry appears in the text when the moment being considered is remembered as a trigger, or is a specific point in time for a poem being drafted. Every draft is a valid poem – book-published versions are interpolated for the original draft, early drafts replacing the polished end product. End product? There is no closure – memory isn’t that stable. The text might seek validation in “external” information – a quote, a textual reference – it may become “archaeological” in trying to reconstruct a specific environment. But the tension between place and emotion, the creation of poem and “inspiration”, is a constant. There is a prologue – a “before we begin”. But that’s here and now, where “I write”. The text ends where YOU and I write and read. The roles of reader and writer are blurred. Whose story is being told here, who owns the copyright on the poems? The declaration that accompanies this manuscript claims it is John Kinsella – I? “My name is John Kinsella. I make poems.”

Access Note

This thesis is not currently available. Email queries to library@ecu.edu.au

Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.