Writer, poet and teacher Victoria Kennefick’s first full collection, Eat Or We Both Starve, has been described as “daring” and follows on from her 2015 pamphlet, White Whale (Southword Editions), which won the Munster Literature Centre Fool For Poetry Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. She features in the Carcanet New Poetries VIII anthology, recently launched with five online events.
The death of her father played a pivotal role in Victoria Kennefick’s poetry career, kickstarting her writing and shaping the poems in White Whale and paving the way, now, for Eat Or We Both Starve.
Originally from Shanagarry, Co. Cork, Victoria Kennefick is now based in Co. Kerry, Ireland. She won the 2013 Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and her work has appeared in various anthologies and publications including Poetry, The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, Ambit, bath magg and The Stinging Fly. She holds a doctorate in English from University College Cork and studied at Emory University and Georgia College and State University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship. A recipient of a Next Generation Artist Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, she has also received bursaries from Kerry County Council and Words Ireland. She was a co-host of the Unlaunched Books Podcast and is on the committee of Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s longest-running literary festival.
Joining Victoria to discuss Eat Or We Both Starve is fellow Carcanet poet and critic for The Irish Times Martina Evans. Martina is celebrating her own book launch – of American Mules – on 21 April, and you might have spotted her recently at the inaugural New Words Festival, talking about her 2018 book-length sequence Now We Can Talk Openly About Men with Carcanet’s publisher and editor Michael Schmidt. The title’s mules are shoes given to her by an American relation and which suggest the possibility of a very different world. As happens so often in her poems, new and invented experiences throw into vivid relief Evans’s own intensely lived experiences.
Kennefick’s Eat Or We Both Starve also tackles familiar subjects, including the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions and desire, from a slightly skewed angle, ‘exploring what it is to live with the past – and not to be consumed by it’. The death of her father played a pivotal role in Victoria Kennefick’s poetry career, kickstarting her writing and shaping the poems in White Whale and paving the way, now, for Eat Or We Both Starve.
Another Carcanet poet Rebecca Goss writes: ‘Victoria Kennefick writes with a fresh urgency, giving us poems that are honest and fearless. She once said: “Poetry has saved my life, made my life. Reading and writing it have taught me bravery and discipline.” Kennefick is unafraid to explore bereavement, sex and the female body in her poetry. She writes with a visceral originality. Her poems are rich with physical sensations. She is able to find beauty in the big subjects like sorrow and desire, offering us the finest, most startling details. Her identity as a young Irish woman is hugely important to her, something she explores with intelligence and candour. I have always felt there is nothing Victoria could not tackle. The scope in her work is exhilarating.’
As always with Carcanet Press events, extracts of the text will be shown during the reading so that you can read along, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. Registration for this online event is £2, redeemable against the cost of the new book – attendees will receive a discount code and details of how to get hold of it during and after the event.