I was contacted by Graham Snow (a self described information shepherd) who asked if he could pinch two of my poems for a project. Graham impressively wrote an algorithm that used two of my poems 'Where Does The Bus Go When It Doesn't Arrive On Time?' and 'Ink Covered Handshake', along with two Thomas Hardy poems, and data from Plymouth's 2017 events list and plaque trail to generate new poetry. Propped up with a bank of 200 adjectives, the program generated new poetry and then tweeted it on its very own social media soapbox. I wasn't present at the event but from the photos and tracking the feed I can say I am very impressed! Perhaps also slightly worried that Skynet is going to begin by infiltrating the arts and then working its way up to the nuclear codes.
Check out the feed... https://twitter.com/auto_bard
Follow Graham... https://twitter.com/_infosnow
It's World Poetry Day! To mark today I am releasing a poem that has two underlying themes (most poetry is layered and symbolic). The most obvious theme is the historical event that has played a huge part in the identity of Plymouth and that is the lighting of the beacons that alerted Drake to the arrival of The Spanish Armada. The underlying theme is Spring. The lights stand for the reawakening of the sun and daylight growing longer once again (yesterday was the Spring equinox for those who were unaware). The closest beacon to me is in Stoke Village, and is located in Block House Park. It is a wonderful site if you ever get the chance to go up there. From the walled area of where the old beacon used to sit, you can see Dartmoor, Plymouth Sound, Mt Edgcumbe and even on a clear day, Kit Hill in Cornwall.
A beautiful spot in our city that is not only dowsed in history but quite an incredible location to see in the arrival of a much needed season. Happy World Poetry Day.
I hope you enjoy this piece.
Cold weathered skin
wants to pull away
as the fiery sparks
collide with flesh
but this hand doesn't care,
it has a job to do.
the hand must poke,
make the fires burn
a newborn birthed from pyre.
if message is to be seen,
gleam and glint of ember
must travel over trembling estuary,
cross dusty moor and tattered cliff
so that the sailors waiting
catch the drift...
Fleet is nigh
and this beacon in night's sky
is the only way
command the charge,
so burn dancing embers
burn long and
cast your entrancing light.
another is lit,
sent heaven bound,
no need to shout,
sound could not travel fast enough anyway,
light is the chosen steed,
a steed as fast as a furious fist
uppercutting its way up the coast,
each beacon a sun upon the shore,
the call to war.
And as they float like melodic note
into the English air,
erupts in stages
sending warning to mooring
and flagging up
that they have come.
you flaming glory!
The beginning of such
a momentous story,
rage on little fires,
your message received,
Written for the Christmas/Midwinter season 2016.
The Hairdresser snips
and the clumps of leaves fall
from the curls of the crown on the top of the head,
no one is here to sweep,
they all go back to sleep
and the dreaming begins.
What do trees dream of?
Do their branches flicker
as they imagine giving chase
to interesting sights and smells?
Do they wake up screaming
and hang woven 'catchers
on their arms
to capture all the nightmares of fracking and deforestation?
Do they become stiff when
that other tree
or that bee?
Does hawthorn heart get the blossom pumping?
when waessael comes
and the bang of drums stir...
Do they hit snooze?
Do they beg 'just five more minutes'
and roll over, tucked under
quilts made of frost and chills?
Is there a Freud made of furze
who can analyse every encounter
and tell them
acorn wants to sleep with The Mother,
that they have attachment issues
and are too rooted in their old ways?
I see them chatting
in the May morning,
of the conjured delusions
that blew through the howling breeze,
in their grove,
topping each story
with a dream of their own.
Darkest day is approaching
and they will need coaxing to rest,
and we will need coaching to not stress as light fades,
and we all go up to 'Bedfordshire',
awaiting the break of morning.
Songs will come.
First as lullaby
for the sun to be reborn
and bring in, it's new rule.
the Holly King rises,
borrows bag of dust from sandman
and uses as seasoning
to bring about
our cold winter mournings.
Written for the Lord Mayor's Carol Concert event. Not performed. (09.12.16)
Recording on it's way!
Imagine that the sands of the Wild West,
blew over on The Gulf Stream,
piled up on Plymouthian shores,
burying the place
like a mural preserved under concrete.
No sooner had dune settled,
but the Swilly Kid rocked up,
'though, he had no chance,
stood opposite Sherwell Church
waited Wild Bill Honicknowle
declaring Mutley Law
and challenging to a draw.
The burlesque dancers piled
and gawped in awe
as showdown took place.
The great bells of St Andrew sang,
an old dittie about ‘Wishing they was in Dixie’
something to the likes of that tune,
and as they roared their metallic melody,
a tumble weed rolled by...
Swilly the Kid had backup,
Morice, Manadon and the youngest of the Peverell boys,
stood in support, ready to open fire,
with rifles and alike,
but Wild Bill Honicknowle was not alone either,
with Doc Mannamead and Butch Cattedown,
keeping both eyes locked firmly on opposing targets.
It would be a bloodbath,
The Battle of North Hill,
and the thrill of such a fight,
could cast chills on the now desertscape,
of the lawless Ocean City.
True Grit, fill your hands,
here they come,
From the library,
approaching in distance,
is the peacekeeper,
Lord Mayor presiding,
whose arrival was
to prevent a tragedy.
In earnest, settled challenge,
by rallying bands together,
words of unity, common goals,
and a drive for the City so alive with wild passion.
The bells rang out,
praising order that had been brought,
to a town wrought
by the afflictions fallen of the new frontier.
The great bells of St Andrew sang once more,
a new dittie titled ‘She’ll be coming ‘round Mount Batten’
and when she comes,
arrives and plays role,
the toll and troll of wildness,
so a great silence of peace can be heard,
and the tumble weed rolls,
rolls on by,
as the bells once again,
Written for the Thanksgiving/Illuminate parade. Performed at The Mayflower Memorial Steps. (24.11.16)
Listen to the audio recording here.
She’s been sweating for hours.
The cranberries are drenched in blood and tears,
the fridge has hummed so loudly,
she now has the sound
resonating in her skull,
and every time she twitches
the lights in her eyes fire up
just like when the door swings open.
He’s been stirring for hours.
Finely tuning the correct amount of meaty granules,
tip – pour, boil, pop,
the clang of the spoon sounds like
the ding of a triangle
in a hot and huffed out orchestra,
this triangle is more Bermuda,
missing in a sea of steaming pots, overflowing pans and wafting smoke,
and it’s sound is changing
as it shifts from metal, a ping,
to made of tarmac, a dulcet crack.
But it’s all worth it y’know,
now they’ve sat down,
placed warm plates on those new heat mats they got
for these certain types of
sitting down bowl of this and dish of that,
there’s no room for the peas,
there’s never room for the peas!
Pulling out chairs,
down from the attic,
one is a foldy type one,
other that plastic inflatable style, retro, born in the 70’s, resurrected in the 90’s.
Grandma is already asleep in her potatoes,
snoring into them
and reminding chef of that refrigerator hum,
BING – lights on,
just in time
to illuminate the other lights,
candles – gotta have candles,
one by one,
after messing about with matches,
clicking lighters repeatedly
finally lighting on the stove
(thank the god of appliances they have a gas not ‘leccy...)
And speaking of ‘leccy,
main lights stay on
big light rains down
despite the parade of candles,
in-between the mounds of food,
space for the candles
but never mind those poor
both chefs sigh relief,
breathe for the first time in 36 hours,
the longest labour,
Delia and Rhodes, the midwives, rested back on their shelf
and the self dissolves,
and it all,
all of it,
seems worth it in the end.
Except of course,
for the peas...
who curdle in a bowl of self-loathing and loneliness.
Spare a thought for them as holiday season comes upon us.
Don’t forget the peas!
Kenny is a witty writer. His lines of poetry are dipped in pop culture from his youth. Wedged in-between are experiences of living in Plymouth which are carefully used to prop open the underlying tones and themes of the writing.
I enjoy listening to Kenny read, but being able to spend some time alone with the poem allows me to revisit lines, contemplate them for longer than a few seconds of speech, and either try to crack the top surface of his writing or simply get pleasure from simmering in a baffled state of enjoyment of the lyric.
The poetry in A Long Weekend On The Sofa makes you think. It is a thinker’s book.
One of my favourite poems from Kenny’s new collection is titled ‘The Van Dike Club’. Aside from conjuring images of a scene I wish I’d been alive to be part of, there is a real anti-establishment vibe from this piece. The following quote highlights what I mean...
Kenny encapsulates in these few lines a sense of great rebellion. Ian Anderson (I met him once whilst chatting to his wife) often highlighted the social conditions of society through Jethro Tull’s music. The Rolling Stones were the bad boys compared to the Beatles and often seen in pop culture as an alternative to the goody-two shoes ‘preppiness’. Kenny conjures all these symbols and paints an incredible picture of a different time which perhaps is not too dissimilar from the one we live in now.
If you buy this book, I recommend following it’s ‘Ronseal’s 5year Wood Stain’ title. Flick open the pages and take a long weekend on the sofa so you can fully appreciate the layers, ideas, nostalgia and humour of this brilliant sequel to The Honicknowle Book of the Dead.
PPW - Promoting Plymouth Writers. Usually a book I stumble upon myself but if you are a Plymouth based writer and would like me to review your book on this blog then please email me via the contact page.
So, from little birds and spins of rumour mills, I assumed this festival would be my first write. It was not. However I had already written a poem and the wonderful people at Plymouth Culture want me to perform it anyway! I will be reading my unofficial official first commission at 5.45pm during the event. Come and see me regale cold fingers and lit up wide eyed Plymouthians at the Mayflower Steps.
BYOTOP - (Bring Your Own Tin Of Peas) #dontforgetthepeas
*seriously, bring a tin of peas