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Poetry Telltale Press The Nightwork

Catharsis in the Poetry Cafe

At last a moment to reflect on the Telltale three week mini-tour, which ended on October 1st at the Poetry Cafe with Robin Houghton and I reading with the excellent Rishi Dastidar and Anja Konig. I enjoyed all three readings immensely, not least being able to sit back and savour the work of poets like Robin, Rishi and Anja.

Rishi’s work is fascinating. I think it extremely accomplished with a lovely fluency and flow, and included some deft wrong footing and surprising turns which made it a treat to listen to. Definitely one to watch. I also loved Anja’s work, as she read from her new pamphlet Advice for an Only Child. There was a beguilingly light touch about her work. I’d love to hear her read again see some of her work here.

It has been about twenty years since I have read this regularly. And over the course of the last week the reason why I stopped doing readings and engaging with the ‘poetry world’ seems obvious. It is to do with the death of a close friend Tim Gallagher.

Tim and I used to collaborate lots, which culminated in us staging plays together at the Water Rats Theatre in London. He was like an infuriatingly talented older brother and as his death loomed (at the age of 37) I spent a year or so trying to help him as best I could, in getting a book of his produced, helping him to arrange performances from which he would literally climb out of his hospital bed to perform and so on. Somehow my great sadness at his death and that of his wife Rosa, who survived him by six months and whose hand I was holding when she died, weirdly blocked me from performing and promoting my own work.

Now it seems obvious that on some level I felt guilty to have survived when Tim and Rosa had not. The result was a big roadblock of guilt, that meant that although I still wrote poetry, performing it and promoting it felt weirdly disloyal. I think I am a fairly self-aware person but it has taken me years to unpick this. And it now seems no coincidence that three of the poems in The Nightwork  (Cicada, Postcard from Ithaca, and After death, at dawn) are about Tim.

For Robin and I the launch of Telltale is naturally an exciting thing to do. But personally it was a huge catharsis. Proof, if any were needed, that just getting on with what is important to you can be unexpectedly beneficial.

Below Robin Houghton, Anja Konig, Rishi Dastidar and myself in the poetry cafe.

Robin Houghton
Robin Houghton
Anja König
Anja Konig
Rishi Dastidar
Rishi Dastidar
Peter Kenny
Peter Kenny

 

Categories
Poetry Telltale Press The Nightwork

Telltale in Hove

The Telltale tour rolls on. This week in the very smart interior of The Cameron Gallery in Hove. Some gorgeous visual art in there, and well worth a visit. Joining Robin Houghton and I this week were Catherine Smith, and John McCullough.

Despite me having to borrow Nick’s glasses having left my at home, I felt less nervy and was able to thoroughly enjoy Catherine, John and Robin’s readings – three poets at the top of their game. Listening properly I had a different view of Catherine’s work after this reading, and one poem’s imagery of sewing people’s lips up has unnerved me for days afterwards. John’s work on first encounter was scintillating. A poem about Tintin in Brighton could have been custom written for my mate Anton, who came to his first ever poetry reading having steadily ridiculed poetry for the two decades we’ve been friends. He came away curiously converted.

Robin and I are also hugely grateful to our respective partners Nick and Lorraine for being behind the scenes stalwarts. Next stop: London’s Poetry Cafe on Wednesday 1st October at 7:30.  Can’t wait.

Below slightly weird light/colour conditions in the gallery for iPhone snaps. But below, Catherine Smith, Robin Houghton, John McCullough and I.

Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith
Robin Houghton
Robin Houghton
John McCullough
John McCullough
Peter Kenny
Peter Kenny
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Telltale Press The Nightwork

Telltale launches ‘The Nightwork’ in Lewes

Just a swifty… Last night was The Telltale Press launch for Robin Houghton’s The Great Vowel Shift and my The Nightwork.  I felt lucky to be reading from my new pamphlet in the company of the excellent Catherine Smith and Robin Houghton with a attentive and supportive audience in Lewes, which is a town full of writers.

I can’t wait now for the next Telltale reading on Wednesday 24th September, at Cameron Contemporary Art, Victoria Grove, Second Avenue BN3 2LJ at 7:30. This time Catherine Smith, Robin Houghton and I are joined by John McCullough. Should be another great night – it is a guest-only beano so email publish@telltalepress.co.uk if you’d like to come along.

My wife Lorraine took these snaps of me mid-flow…. and good to know that they conform to the norm for such photos, i.e. a bloke with his mouth open.

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Design Poetry

A note on formats: Free Verse – The Poetry Book Fair

Popped into the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square on 6th September to meet Robin Houghton and have a mooch around the stands at this year’s Poetry Book Fair together. We found it heartening to chat to dozens of poetry publishers from around the UK, and see evidence of a thriving scene.

Poetry’s tendency to  experiment with good quality visual design, and unusual formats may actually help protect these small presses. When working as a copywriter in the days of junk mail, I spent countless afternoons with an art director partner, dreaming up different formats (aka ‘paper engineering’) for junk mail. Perhaps it is for that reason I often feel slightly short changed by pedestrian ‘me-too’ production.

It may be fortunate for such publishers that poetry doesn’t fare well in ebooks. On a kindle, the poem’s formatting is often wrong, introducing bogus line breaks or ruining the shape of the poem on the page. Seen on a bland screen, the value of these sweated-over words is diminished. Poetry publications in general, and especially publications that use interesting formats, have a tactile quality and shape on the page that enhances the reading experience. Being reminded of this at the fair reassured me that the future of the niche poetry publication scene is secure. More than that, many in the room seemed on a mission powered by a fierce love for what they were doing. Nobody can stop them.

Below I enjoyed speaking to Hugh Bryden, of Roncadora Press from Dumfries, and particularly liked the visual style of some of his productions, which he illustrates. I came away with one example, Five Days A Week/Twelve Months A Year, a limited edition pamphlet designed and illustrated by Hugh, with poems by Hugh McMillan.

17 Poems by Hugh McMillan, designed by Hugh Bryden.
17 Poems by Hugh McMillan, designed by Hugh Bryden.

 

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Poetry Telltale Press The Nightwork

‘The Nightwork’ launch, and Poetry from Telltale Press & friends

A hectic time for Robin Houghton and myself is upcoming, as Telltale Press starts its inexorable rise to poetic world domination with three showcase readings. I launch my pamphlet The Nightwork and Robin will showcase her just-published, The Great Vowel Shift – and we will be joined by some amazing poets over the three shows.

The first two events are invitation-only. For your invite to the Lewes or Brighton and Hove event simply email publish@telltalepress.co.uk or contact me through this site – and I’ll be sure you’re invited.

  •  Wednedsay 17th September, 7.30pm The Hive, 66 High Street Lewes BN7 1XG featuring Catherine Smith, Abegail Morley, Robin Houghton and Peter Kenny.
  • Wednesday 24th September 7.30pm Cameron Contemporary Art, 1 Victoria Grove, Second Avenue, Hove BN3 2LJ featuring Catherine Smith, John McCullough, Robin Houghton and Peter Kenny.

As well as it being the first launch of The Nightwork it is also an opportunity to meet Telltale’s resident cover artist Hannah Clare there will also be drinks, nibbles and music.

The final reading is in London’s Covent Garden.

  • Wednesday 1st October 2014, 7.30pm The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton St, London WC2 9BX all are welcome to this reading which also features Rishi Dastidar and Anja Konig – as well as Robin and I. See below.

Telltale invite

Categories
Poetry The Nightwork

The Nightwork

Satisfaction, vulnerability and a strange sense of shedding an old skin. It’s not every day you see your name on a new cover.

I collected a box of author’s copies of The Nightwork this weekend. Thumbing through the pages looking at the poems it contained, each one arising from (though not necessarily about) a particular episode of my life.  It’s a curious feeling to see these strings of words turned into a physical object.  I look at the pamphlet like a lizard examining its discarded papery skin. A curiously good feeling.

One of the really happy things about the collection is that I asked Rhona McAdam, whose poetry I have been reading for decades, to write a blurb for me. She did me proud. “In The Nightwork, Peter Kenny revisits the traditional hunting grounds of poetry – art, myth philosophy, history – and returns with fresh poetic plunder. His material ranges from the personal to the fanciful as he deftly lures us into an original poetic world with rich and supple language. An overdue collection from this fine poet.”

I called the collection The Nightwork, for the non-amazing reason that lots of the poems have a nocturnal flavour and were written at night. But also because some its recurring emotions – guilt, sadness, powerlessness and suppressed anger – seem to be the kind of things that plague you waking up in the middle of the night.

I am delighted with the way this wee collection turned out. With its cool cover from Hannah Clare, The Nightwork will be launched at readings alongside Robin Houghton, and her excellent The Great Vowel Shift in Lewes, Brighton and London soon. More details here when these dates are finalised.

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