This book of essays by the vegan-anarchist-pacifist poet John Kinsella on the relationship between political activism and poetry raises two big questions: how do we live in modernity? and what is it like to live beyond the mainstream? The first question lies behind the great cultural movements of the West, from Romanticism to postmodernism. Whether writers have embraced modernity or rejected it, they have long struggled with the very conditions that brought literary culture into existence. The utopian possibilities of modernity have always been in conflict with modernity’s material realities.
In male (I do not, just yet, say ‘patriarchal’) discourse, woman is man’s supplement. The feminist’s perennial dilemma, then, is how to intervene in that discourse which is forever reproducing the very hierarchy that suppresses and excludes her, when – by the power of its appropriation of common sense – that discourse operates not as though it were given her by men, but as though it were simply ‘given’.