Clyde Andrews writes about...
Death Threats via Poetry
Based on an article in the West Australian dated 5th August 2006.
There’s a war that’s been going on lately here in Australia. No, it has nothing to do with guns, or rockets, or buildings being blown up. Rather, it’s a war that has been waged in the form of poetry — yes, poetry!
Here’s the story so far...
Prominent Western Australian poet John Kinsella has applied for, and been granted by a Perth Magistrate, a restraining order against two other fellow poets: Anthony Lawrence and Robert Adamson. Why you ask? Well, this is where it gets interesting.
It all started when Lawrence and Adamson took offence to Kinsella’s newly published book: Fast Loose Beginnings: A Memoir of Intoxications. In it he describes the “truth” behind some of the figures in the literary world over here in Australia including, and I quote: “a racy anecdotal memoir of John Kinsella’s meetings with the great and colourful man and women of poetry.” Now, these three were once friends. Not anymore, as Lawrence and Adamson took great offence to what had been written within the pages of this book.
Then the first shot was fired.
Adamson and Lawrence decided to retaliate to this “outrage” by sending off some rather interesting emails to Kinsella. The emails took on the form of poetry and among other things described in detail such things as; spilt blood, dead flesh, and restraining orders to name just a few.
Here’s an example of some of the forty or so emails (a day) that were fired at Kinsella.
From Robert Adamson:
How can... your enemies love you now that you have taken up meat-eating? I am trying very hard not to imagine the blood dribbling down your chin, the lumps of flesh floating in the bowl of your soup. I know you hate cats but they may be your salvation. Let me know and I will send a case of Siamese killers.
From Anthony Lawrence:
It is a death-clicking beetle
can you hear it at work inside
the fast tracking of your emails
inside the cold
enamel of your smile?
Keep your enemies
close at hand
has no pockets
Kinsella then said the emails made him “extremely” fearful for his safety, but still managed to fire a couple of shots back, including this gem:
From Anthony Kinsella:
If you’ve been thinking that
BA and JJ are a little pissed
off, and that this will blow over
then you’re a complete fool. The
dark humour is a meniscus. Deep
regret is the name of an ocean they’ve
found, 5 miles under the ice at
Antarctica. You’re about to enter it.
Are you ready?
Then it escalated from there. With a poem like:
Not too late to have another pair of eyes grafted
onto the back of your head.
Only behind the fire wall of a computer screen.
The Red wind approaches.
The countdown has begun.
Lawrence then made a statement that they were astonished by Kinsella’s reaction, and they meant him no physical harm. “He’s overreacting and that’s not our fault.”
The battle continues...
Last word was Lawrence filing for defamation against Kinsella. Claiming, “We were just having fun.”
A case of poets behaving badly, perhaps. And a rather poignant message here for not only authors, but even those that write emails: Be careful what you say, or, at the very least, make sure you can write evocative, imaginative poetry!
What next? Traffic infringements written in colourful metaphors? Or perhaps court summons in haiku? Or my personal favourite, a “Dear John” letter in limerick! That I’d like to see...
The mind boggles.
Copyright © 2006 by Clyde Andrews
Thank you for the report, Clyde. As we always say, “There is no story so truly bewildering as reality.” And now, lest anyone get any ideas, Bewildering Stories does not publish “flame wars” in either verse or prose.
Clyde, you might write a little note to the West Australian and ask why those self-absorbed turkeys don’t have anything better to do.