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Luke Kennard

Offical and quite dull biography beneath an offical and strangely happy and lovely picture: Luke Kennard is a poet and novelist. His books have been shortlisted for the Forward Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the International Dylan Thomas Prize. He lectures in the School of English at the University of Birmingham.

Unofficial and more exciting biography beneath a picture that we feel gets much nearer to the reality of the poet – edgy, troubled, slightly short-sighted: Thinking as we do that all of Luke’s poems are strictly autobiographical and not, as he maintains, wild leaps of imaginative fiction, Luke Kennard was both bullied and horrifically spiteful as a child and has very little grasp on the realities of modern life or the responsibilities he has within it. He would much rather be eating sweets, petting strange dogs, smoking cigarettes with no filter at all and tying himself in knots with deep and contradictory thoughts about very shallow literature than fathering his children in a responsible manner, working hard to earn a decent crust and educating his students well beyond their means. The little things – old phone-numbers on crumpled post-it notes, an unusual knot in the wood of his bedstead, a new freckly – are the things that entertain him most. 

To be serious for a second, we are thrilled and honoured to have LUKE KENNARD’s first pamphlet since 2012 – Truffle Hound – to kick of our new experimental pamphlet series this year. More resolutely prose than any of his previous books of poetry, here Luke allows his childhood (imagined or otherwise) to flood into the foreground, while his present (factual or fake news) distorts and fractures as if his life were being directed by a strange Gilliam/Lynch hybrid. Dogs, cigarettes, children and pills shouldn’t really be permitted to mix should they? Here they are a heady mixture indeed!

One of the shorter among some quite long prose poems in TRUFFLE HOUND

ITALICIZE THIS

This is a story about a geyser of untranslatable thoughts. But it starts with a Ratpack B-side called If You Can’t Translate a River, How You Gonna Translate the Sea? and from there things get “worse” which is to say “ ‘worse’ ” and the protagonist is a man who forgets all of his body parts so he has labels attached to all of his body parts and labels attached to the labels to remind him what labels are and why he needs them and a tertiary set of labels with caveats. Do the children run from him as he rustles by or point and laugh? Let’s be honest. Nobody points and laughs. If I saw someone pointing and laughing I’d point and laugh at them. I remember at the age of 6 I was trying to write the word treasure and I asked my teacher how do you spell zh? She said It’s entirely dependent on context and I said What’s context? You know when you accidentally hug someone too hard and there’s a moment where they struggle or say oof. What are you trying to do? On my shelf I have a copy of a journal from the 80s called Poetic Comment only it’s just poems – and they’re not great – no comment whatsoever, go figure. Go tell it on the mountain. If I tried to italicize the way I feel about you the letters would lean so far to the right they’d be invisible.