Scavenger’s Season

$25.00 inc GST

Product Description

Christopher (Kit) Kelen’s Scavenger’s Season represents a quarter century’s poetic engagement with a place. In this case the place is five acres between two forests – at Markwell via Bulahdelah, in the Hunter Region, on the NSW North Coast. Scene of home building and the urbanite’s ongoing rustic and romantic adventures, Scavenger’s Season articulates, for every sense, a blow-in’s ambivalent belonging in the bush. The coast is never far away, weather passes relentlessly. The fauna feature, both domestic and transient – denizens of creek and sky. They’re as sparse and quirky as the human cast. There are Chinese (and many other) influences and a painter’s sensibility in the manner of making of these poems. Indirection is the way to go, and so we find the persona ‘setting out by breath alone…/the odd man tinkering breezes’, who asks, ‘o how may I be lost as them?’ There’s much more to these bucolics though than a view taken in from the veranda. There’s political economy, as in ‘a little dole’ll do!’ Things are elemental too, as in the gathering around ‘the old bush television’. There’s abstract depth, dark and light, as attested by works of homage, to the poet Celan on the one hand, and to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic on the other. So Kelen is ‘hunting wild nexus’. All this is evidence of an obsession that experience must amount to art in order to find expression. The place is the journey, home is in the coming and going, and in space that is devoutly other-than-national. At some fundamental level, it’s all about having fun where you are, about tuning in well enough to do so. A tribute to the artlife as bricolage, Scavenger’s Season is above all a text to foreshadow efforts ahead – it is a book of homecoming.


“Kelen doesn’t praise the Australian bush or damn it; he explores nature without judgement. He introduces the reader to his explorations without overt value judgements, yet his perceptions – from ‘silence’ to ‘nothingness’ – let us enjoy his reactions on a philosophical level as well as a sensory on.” ANDREW BURKE, Rochford Street Review

“Kit Kelen’s new collection, Scavenger’s Season, would seem to be part of a newly-emerging genre in Australian poetry; a tradition which features the daily struggles and minor enlightenments of poets living on small blocks of land from which they derive little or no income.” GEOFF PAGE, The Sydney Morning Herald (paywalled)