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    Morpheus has its origins in a novel John Kinsella worked on in his late teens — a time of transition between adolescence and adulthood, but not a time before he had at least glimpsed the contours of the vast, interconnecting literary project that was to be his lifelong pursuit. An amalgam of realism and fantasy, of fiction, poetry, and drama, the project limned the phantasmagoric yet self-questioning and disciplined emotional terrain that has so captivated and intrigued his many current readers worldwide.
    But the young Kinsella never adequately “completed” Morpheus. This may be no accident, as Morpheus is so protean, so heterogeneous, and so capacious that, conceptually, it may defy completion. Kinsella thus shelved the project as he began to develop his characteristic adult idiom, which has articulated itself largely though not exclusively in lyric poetry.
—Nicholas Birns, from the introduction: Forging the Unimaginable: The Paradoxes of Morpheus
John Kinsella’ Morpheus is everything you’ve ever wanted in a work of literature / and also nothing at all / in precisely the same isomorphic location / Morpheus is the precocious explosion of delightful incision from a teenager revisited by the ghost of his future / and also the failure of this incision to cut anything but itself for / this isn’t a novel / in the way Naked Lunch is not a novel / but a suspended solution / and Morpheus is not juvenilia / and / this is not even a blurb / and you are not reading these words / and / you can read Morpheus / if you like / or / let it read you your future / or / leave / it / unread / it / stands / remixed / and / open / remixed / and / endless
—Davis Schneiderman is the author of Drain (Northwestern), the DEAD/BOOKS trilogy—Blank[SIC], Ink. (Jaded Ibis), and he once had dinner with John Kinsella / and / they / later / saw / a / fox
"A lyrical tour de force.  Literate, impassioned and often downright gorgeous, the prose sings with wit and vigor.  Add a little Dr. Benway to Stephen Dedalus, with a touch of Genet's Divine, and you have a glimpse of Kinsella's Thomas Icarus Napoleon, the hero of this literary drama.  Awesome."  
—Jeffrey Deshell, author of Arthouse (FC2) and The Trouble with Being Born (FC2)
John Kinsella is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism and plays. He is a frequent collaborator with other poets, critics, fictionalists, artists, musicians, labourers, activists and friends. Recent fiction includes In the Shade of the Shady Tree (Ohio University Press, 2012), recent poety includes Jam Tree Gully (WW Norton, 2012), and recent criticism includes Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley (ed. Niall Lucy, Liverpool University Press, 2010). He is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and the poetry editor for the literary journal Island. But most relevantly, he is an anarchist-vegan-pacifist. Kinsella's activism against racism and bigotry began in his late teens when he was working on the first manifestation of Morpheus.

Book Information:
· Paperback: 418 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 



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John Kinsella discussing Morpheus, his forthcoming BlazeVOX book on the Southerly Blog


The Eternal Work-in-Progress

graph_abstractby John Kinsella,

Writing Morpheus in my late teens went hand-in-hand with a fascination on my part for long, cumulative works of poetry. In Morpheus, through the character of Thomas, I was subtextually mapping possible approaches to creating the work-in-progress, with its echoes of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Also, though I despised him politically, like many of the ‘left’ I felt intrigued and compelled by Ezra Pound’s unfinishable life-work, The Cantos. I have a strong scepticism of Pound these days, but he convinced me, along with Olson’s Maximus Poems and Zukofsky’s ‘A’, that anything we write is inevitably part of what we will write in the future. The interconnectedness of literary writing became an obsession for me. (This was the case for me even with Emily Dickinson’s Poems, which in their editing, and the fights over their publication or presentation, gave the sense of a collection of smaller self-contained poems yet also of one long, growing body of work that might be read as a single poems in many parts.)

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John Kinsella on his novel Morpheus - in the Southerly Blog part 3


On the Southerly Blog, John Kinsella has been a featured blogger. Here is his third piece, I'll Tell You A Story.

I’ll tell you a story


by John Kinsella

I possess two items from my childhood. Both are books. Somehow I have held on to these through the upheavals of my life, including having twice sold vast collections of books to support my various needs (and long-past addictions) twenty and more years ago. When I did my last big ‘sell-off’ in the early nineties, I managed to hang on to my early J. H. Prynne Poems and a few signed collections of poetry as well, but that’s about it. I occasionally run into people who remark that they own books containing dedications from writers to me. But that’s the way of it, and though I enjoy having books around me, I am not stuck on owning things, and have little regard for material possessions.

Yet I do have those two books from childhood. One is Bedtime Nursery Rhymes, which was given to me on my second birthday by my maternal great-grandmother Coupar. She wrote in the front in her very formal, aged hand: ‘To dear little John, on his 2nd birthday from his Great-Grandma S. G. Coupar 1965’. This intrigued me through my childhood, because it became my only memory of this Goldfields woman, and I long mused over the formality and affection working together in the capitals for Great-Grandma, the initials in her name, counterpointed by the ‘dear little’. Should they have been in caps as well, I wondered? This seemed to me as much poetry as the wonderful rhymes inside which I still know by heart and recited to my son Tim when he was still in his cot.

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John Kinsella on his novel Morpheus - in the Southerly Blog part 4

Uses of Knowledge/Data/Detail
in Writing and Reading

by John Kinsella
I’ve always loved ‘data’, though I am sceptical of how it is sourced and utilised. This re-engineered novel I’ve been talking about over recent weeks, Morpheus, is a book stuffed with data, yet aims to be a challenge to the ‘empirical’; the data of ‘learning’ — from school, the first year or two of university, private reading and even (scientific) researching. While writing Morpheus, I was studying and occasionally working in my own home lab, complete with Mettler balance, Bunsen burners, titration equipment and micro ground-jointed organic glassware, including Liebig condensers and even a Friedrichs condenser, and an old Cathode Ray Oscilloscope: a Cro, which worked well with all the ‘crows’ in my poems, and also informed my sense of poetic rhythms.
But the home lab was becoming a thing of the past and, leaving the county for the city to attend university, I still worked on and off in a commercial laboratory, preparing mineral sands for analysis and supervising the loading of (mineral sands) ships. Simultaneously, my politics of protest (eventually against the very work I was doing), were simmering and manifesting. I was obtaining knowledge through praxis, knowledge that would be used against its sources.
And ‘data’ are subjective in their derivations and applications. Maybe this is why ‘pseudo-science’ fascinates me, with its purported facts (I would argue plenty of facts arising from the ‘hard sciences’ are purported or dubious as well, especially given I am not satisfied with any ‘proofs’ of existence in the first place). I have mentioned my poetry of ‘graphology’, which has its origins in the materials that would constitute the novel Morpheus in my late teens, but I haven’t alluded to my interest in alchemy. I no longer have it, outside readings of Faust, but it’s omnipresent in Morpheus, and was probably one of the factors that enticed Paul Hardacre to offer to publish the manuscript with Papertiger back in 2007 (after a journey from there, it has been looked after by Geoffrey Gatza at Blazevox — thanks to both for assisting in its passage). Paul’s knowledge of esoterica and alchemy is second to none, and it informs his poetry as well as his critical practice. Of his book liber xix: differentia liber (Puncher and Wattman Poetry, NSW, 2011) I wrote:
liber xix is a remarkable if not unique book of poetry. To quote an alchemical expression from a quote cited by Hardacre, it’s a book in which language ‘dissolves and combines’. But for a work so specific in its prosody, the key to unlocking its mysteries actually locates itself in spiritual essence derived from a mixture of the animal, vegetable, mineral, and quintessential. This is a book about the meeting of differences, about the alchemical reactions that arise from these meetings, these mixings. The poem is always more than the sum of its parts, and change is always part of the discourse the poems engender within themselves, between each other, and in the context of the quotes that accompany them. These glimpses into chaos and formation are also mini-epics, condensed ‘vedas’ and ‘sagas’ reaching across belief systems and geographies to find a ‘universal’ way of viewing being. Across the ampersands the components of the poem speak, and accumulate towards a maxim-like ‘unconclusion’ – the ‘noble’ is reached only nominally, and the ‘lesser’ (base) elements of the poem retain their properties. Alchemically speaking, though deeply desiring and even believing a closure is possible, no ultimate ‘coniunctio’ is reached; maybe it is even studiously avoided in a playback Gertrude Stein would possibly have found enticing (if she had written them). But it’s overall this work really comes into its own – it is a narrative, a journey from heaven to hell, from God to the faces of evil. Evil is named. Strands of mystical histories of humanity twist around each other, mingle fluids. This is a beautifully terrifying work. Hardacre is one of the finest poetical transmuters out there. He is to be venerated and feared at once. He is going places few contemporary poets have risked acknowledging, never mind visiting. Like all great innovators, he reaches as far back as knowledge.
Alchemy has an essential space in the 
evolution of scientific research and can’t just be dismissed as turning-lead-into-gold fantasies, and a willingness to sell one’s soul to gain power. Articulating the body, the soul, of a human’s relationship to nature and ‘existence’ adds up to much more than ‘magic’ and greed. Reading Paracelsus and Meister Eckhart was part of the protagonist ofMorpheus, Thomas’s, raison d’être as much as it was my own. How did this come about? Well, I lost ‘religion’ when I was sixteen or seventeen and walked out of a Christmas service during which the minister had compared the bounties of Christ’s birth to a cash register. Looking back, I’d like to think he was being ironic, critiquing the spendfest that is Christmas, but I doubt it. I was reading Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy; I was reading the Bhagavad-Gita; I was reading the Koran, and I was reading the Bible. I had been baptised and confirmed; I’d always thought Christ was okay but the trappings of Church were like the trappings of the state: about control, and little caring for anything outside their own existences. Thomas in Morpheus struggles with all this.
But what remained from my comparative readings was my own sense of what constituted ‘spirit’ and ‘spiritual’, and a lot of information. I continue to process that information through my writing, be it poetry, essays or fictions. I am interested in applying it ‘correctly’, but also ‘incorrectly’. I find errors generative, creative and ‘honest’. I find the slippage between fact and error enticing.
Why data? Actually, for an event to be staged in a narrative, for an event to provide the co-ordinates for a poem in which the ‘ineffable’ is framed with an eye to quiddity finding its own voice (metaphor in overdrive), one doesn’t need a lot of data. Just enough: let the language do the work.
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