- Student Info
Kevin Spenst is the author of the poetry collections Ignite, Jabbering with Bing Bong, and Hearts Amok: a Memoir in Verse (all with Anvil Press). He has also written over a dozen chapbooks, including Pray Goodbye (the Alfred Gustav Press), Ward Notes (the serif of nottingham), Surrey Sonnets (JackPine Press), and most recently Upend (Frog Hollow Press: Dis/Ability series). He occasionally co-hosts the show “Wax Poetic” with RC Weslowski, Lucia Misch and Zofia Rose on Vancouver Co-op Radio. He lives in Vancouver on unceded Coast Salish territory, and is both a poetry instructor at SFU and a mentor in the Writer's Studio.
Kevin’s advice for Writer’s Studio applicants
What are you looking for in a workshop group?
The more I lead workshops, the more I’m of the thinking that the most valuable contribution a participant can make is to provide an explanation of what happened to them when they read the poem and what qualities of the poem helped create that experience. This is an essential first step in getting to the mechanics of the poem and how it operates. From here, the reader might ask any number of questions about the poem (“I wonder why…?” “I wonder how…?”) and then suggest various ways to intensify the experience of the poem—through tweaking or torquing certain aspects of wording, metaphors or line arrangement, etc.—and these suggestions are either corroborated by other participants or countered with other suggestions. I’m looking for people who are interested in exploring this process of a poem’s development in a supportive (and hey, maybe even fun!) workshop environment.
What do you look for when reading an applicant’s submission?
I’m a big fan of metaphor and sound as expressions of ideas that examine the underside of things. There might be nothing new under the sun, but if we turn that old lawn chair in the backyard over, there’s bound to be something interesting in the six or so divots it’s made in the lawn and its connection to the emotional terrain of the people living in the house. All this is to metaphorically say that I like writing that combines sensory details, ideas and matters of the heart. Writing that strives towards trying to make it new by undercovering the familiar or reaching for new subject matter is what excites me most. As a reader, I like learning and being challenged while also feeling that the poem has an emotional dimension. While reading through submissions, I’ll be looking for these qualities (whether they be in nascent or fully fledged form).