Affective and Transnational: The Bounding Kangaroo


  • Michael Farrell Melbourne University


kangaroo, Barron Field, Charles Harpur, DH LAwrence, Emily Dickinson, Frank O'Hara


The following article is concerned with poetic uses of the word ‘kangaroo’ locally and transnationally, with particular notice given to affective aspects of this use, as well as the associated figuring of racial and/or national divisions. Attention to such relational aspects inevitably means attention to kangaroos not just as a linguistic term, but, also, as represented beings. In what follows we will meet happy kangaroos, sad kangaroos, terrified kangaroos and awesome kangaroos. Given that Michael Ackland refers to the kangaroo as ‘a metonym for the [Australian] landscape’ (25), I consider what these representations have to say about how land is represented in the Australian poems of Barron Field and Charles Harpur, as well as in a poem by D. H. Lawrence. What do kangaroos do, what are they doing in American poems? In texts Emily Dickinson and Frank O’Hara, they have been appropriated respectively for purposes of metaphor and metonym.

Author Biography

Michael Farrell, Melbourne University

Michael Farrell has a PhD from Melbourne University. His most recent book is open sesame (Giramondo 2012).