Luke Kennard is Funny and Surreal

Kennard was named one of the Next Generation of Poets by the Poetry Society in 2014.

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This is a once-in-a-decade prize which names 20 poets that are expected to ‘dominate the poetry landscape for the next decade’, a massive honour and achievement in poetry.

Since his first poetry collection, The Sollex Brothers, was published in 2005, Luke has gone on to write numerous critically acclaimed works. These include The Harbour Beyond the Movie, his 2007 book of poetry which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and for which he was the youngest poet to ever be nominated. As well as poetry, Kennard has also branched out into novel writing, with his first book, The Transition, being published last year.

Kennard’s work is often filled with sharp humour and surreal imagery, while clearly being based on harsh realities. Nowhere is this clearer than in his poem Because the city was in mourning…, which tells the story of a city where ‘a canal was created to run the population’s tears over the border’ and into taps in the kitchens of ‘their enemies.’ This fantastical imagery becomes absurd in the best possible way with the descriptions of how ‘their enemies’ ‘used the special taps to mix the tears with their Old Fashioneds, their Margaritas, their Gibson Martinis and their whisky sours.’    

Canals such as this canal of tears feature in much of Kennard’s poetry, from Because the city to 80,000 Gallons To a Lock, largely due to his appointment as Canal Laureate in 2016. Established in 2013, the national Canal Laureate creates poems in reaction to the waterways throughout England. Kennard has said that ‘I love the mysterious and oddly beautiful environment of the canal paths, the focal point of the industrial and the natural; the way they act as footnotes to the principal roads and streets of the cities they pass through.’

As our headliner, Kennard will be doing a reading at the festival with fellow poet Holly Pester. This is as a part of our paired poetry reading events, which puts together two poets to make for a more collaborative and interesting performance, and will no doubt be a fantastic event worth seeing.

by Seren Livie