A finalist for the Alfred G. Baily 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—and “post-Mennonite”—culture.
Language is at play with sit-com sonnets, soundscapes of noise, videogame goombas, 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.
In April and May of 2015, Spenst embarked on his 50-venue reading tour of the province, AKA Jabbering with BC tour. Reading at bookstores, art galleries, coffee shops, breweries and other venues, he brought his bombastic style of reading to audiences big and small, suspecting and unsuspecting. Some of the poems were written on the spot, while most of the poetry came from the pages of Jabbering with Bing Bong.
VIDEO: Winnipeg International Writers Festival 2016, Poetry Crawl