bio

Kevin Spenst is the author of Ignite and Jabbering with Bing Bong (Anvil Press) and the chapbooks Pray Goodbye (the Alfred Gustav Press), Retractable (the serif of nottingham), Happy Hollow and the Surrey Suite (self-published), What the Frag Meant (100 tetes press) snap (Pooka Press), and Surrey Sonnets (JackPine press). He has done a one-man show at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and over a hundred readings of his poetry across the country. His work has won the Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry and has most recently appeared in BafterC, Poetry is Dead, Lemon Hound and the anthology Best Canadian Poetry 2014.

A finalist for the Alfred G. Bailey Prize and winner of the Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry, Ignite is a collection of elegiac and experimental poetry powder-kegged with questions about one man’s lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. Born into a strict Mennonite family, Abe Spenst’s mental illness spanned three decades in and out of mental institutions where he underwent electric shock treatment and coma-induced insulin therapy. Merging memory and medical records, Kevin Spenst recreates his father’s life through a cuckoo’s nest of styles that both stand as witness and waltz to the interplay between memory, emotion and all our forms of becoming.

Jabbering with Bing Bong: Kevin Spenst’s much-anticipated debut collection of poetry opens as a coming-of-age narrative of lower-middle class life in Vancouver’s suburb of Surrey, embroidered within a myriad of pop-culture and “post-Mennonite.” Jabbering with Bing Bong interrogates memory and makes its way into the urban energies of Vancouver. Language is at play with sit-com sonnets and soundscapes of noise; videogame goombas and an Old-Testament God; teenage longing within the power chords of heavy metal and the complicated loss of a father to schizophrenia. Jabbering with Bing Bong, chronicles the heartbreaking and slapstick pursuit of truth in the realms of religion, mental health, and poetic form itself.

 

Plugging Literature into the Web

Since 2003, I’ve maintained a literary presence online through websites, blogs, sneaky email practices and now twitter. I began writing fiction online in October of 2003 with an older version of this very website (created by Paul Pratte) wherein I wrote one story everyday for a year. The following year I took the daily writing experiment and combined it with visual art, using a painting or drawing from a contemporary artist with an online presence as inspiration into a piece of flash fiction.

My third year of writing online involved a subterranean distribution system whereby I emailed stories to a global omnium gatherum of people (artists, writers, friends, etc) who then printed them up and hide them in the nooks and crannies of their world. My email address was at the end of each story along with a plea to contact me with the discoverer’s whereabouts. I kept track of all this at ballofdirt.com.

In 2007, I self-published a small sampling of the stories that I’d emailed out. “Fast Fictions” was launched with a fifty-venue, one-day only reading tour of Vancouver. As the stories were extremely small and plentiful, I figured a series of ridiculously short readings would be an appropriate book launch.

In 2008, as an experiment in truth, falsehood and fiction online I once again wrote a story everyday but this time under a completely different pseudonym each and every day. In turn, I received hate mail (when I pretended to be Yann Martel), fan mail and questions for my professional medical advice.

Since 2014, I’ve been doing a ton of touring. Here’s some of my latest:

Confirmed dates are on the map below, but I’m looking to add more. Contact me at kevinspenst@gmail.com if you’re interested in having me read, write or just make some strange sounds.

 

October 3 @ 1:30PM
Causa – a craft art jewelry book shop                                                                                   13 Kensington

October 3 @ 3:30PM
Sovereign State – idea consultancy                                                                                827 Dundas St. West

October 3 @ 6:45PM
Full of Beans Coffee                                                                                                       1348 Dundas St West

October 4 @ 7PM
Boneshaker Reading Series, Toronto
1748 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto
www.facebook.com/Boneshaker-Reading-Series

October 5 @ 8PM
Pivot Reading Series, Toronto
with John Wall Barger, Joe Denham, and Susan Perly
1051 Bloor St West, Toronto
pivotreadings.ca

October 7 @ 7PM
Book Launch, Novel Idea Bookstore, Kingston
with Michael Casteels and Jason Heroux
156 Princess St, Kingston
www.facebook.com/NovelIdeaBookstoreKingston

October 9 @ 8:30PM
An Evening of Poetry by Poets from Canada, New York
308 Bowery, New York, NY
www.facebook.com/events/1867308573497263

October 14 @ 3PM
Monastiraki -Le Petit Monastère
5478 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal
monastiraki.blogspot.ca

 

 

 


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