Painters, Performance Poetry Readings


Several years ago I had a feverish flu and was staying in a room where the only thing within reach of the bed was a book of Max Ernst’s fabulous paintings. I love Ernst anyway, and when I recovered I wrote this poem about someone who is deliriously obsessed by the painter’s work. It was originally published in Poetry London, and was collected in my latest pamphlet ‘The Nightwork’.

I was stealthily filmed reading it in London last month by my friend Robin Houghton at the Poetry Cafe in London. As the Poetry Cafe is in Covent Garden and the poem mentions Covent Garden I often read it there.

The poem mentions this picture by Ernst in it, called ‘L’Ange du Foyer’, which can be translated as ‘The Fireside Angel’.



‘The Nightwork’ reviewed in The Frogmore Papers

Delighted to find The Nightwork reviewed in The Frogmore Papers by the excellent Charlotte Gann — whose poem In the classroom of touch in the last issue of Rialto absolutely blew me away. I particularly appreciated Charlotte noticing:

“…how it (The Nightwork) invites the reader into its own world of atmospheres. I have real sympathy for the almost comic-tragic I who then soldiers through this. I lurch from the musty box/ of the toilet at the back,/take my place again/ among the ghost-faced sleepers (‘A sparrow at 30,000 ft.’) … There is real anguish here, held securely in poems of reflective subtlety.”

Having the fact I love balancing gloom and laughter picked up on is really heartening.

I am a subscriber to The Frogmore Papers, which is based in Lewes and has been a welcome fixture in poetry publication since 1983. It’s editor Jeremy Page was interestingly interviewed here by Abegail Morely a couple of days ago.

Lovely cover this time, by Carol Lewis.

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The Frogmore Papers, with a lovely cover by Carol Lewis.
Poetry The Nightwork

London Grip reviews The Nightwork

A perceptive review of The Nightwork can be found here. The reviewer John Forth poses a question I find particularly interesting, by opening his review with this thought:

I used to wonder whether some poets have a hot-line to the unconscious or are merely adept at making it seem that way. Now I save time and ask what’s in it for me. Peter Kenny’s work is fun of a serious kind. He’s been published at Guernsey airport and on the island’s bus fleet, and most of his trips to a hinterland of waking dream in this pamphlet will do his reputation no harm.

Actually this nails something obvious about my own work that I’ve managed not to see.  I love the deep resonance of symbols, mythology and what they reveal about the subconscious. John’s thought, however that ‘now I save time and ask what’s in it for me’ is spot on. Unless the process of psychological exploration reveals something that is illuminating for the reader too, you are just talking self-indulgently to yourself – and this is something I need to be particularly mindful of when I write.

I guess it’s like those people who tell you about their travels, but somehow make exotic places seem tedious and their experiences merely self-indulgent.  I don’t want my poems to do that at all.

Poetry The Nightwork

A review of ‘The Nightwork’

A welcome review of The Nightwork is to be found here in Antiphon magazine by Ian Badcoe.

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 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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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.


Poetry The Nightwork

The Nightwork cover illustration

Just received the cover illustration by Hannah Clare for my forthcoming Telltale Press pamphlet The Nightwork. And I am really pleased with it. It is deceptively simple, but the more I look at the more I notice in it.

I wish I’d actually finished neurotically finalising the selection of the poems inside it. Luckily my old friend, the excellent Canadian poet Rhona McAdam has agreed to offer me some adult supervision.

I’m calling it The Nightwork for two simple reasons. The poems I’ve earmarked are quite dark and dreamlike and — even more prosaically — most of the poems in it were written at night. Bird imagery often crops up in my poems, which Hannah has nicely reflected too.


The Nightwork

Not often given to advocating products, but are pretty excellent. Just got some mini business cards made by them. The are very economical, of good quality, and you can upload any image you want to form the back of the card.

I used a slight crop of my little drawing the nightwork, as one of the images. It came out looking small but lovely, and losing none its detail. Has caused some interest when I have handed it out.

Below: the nightwork.