A finalist for the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, 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.
Praise for Ignite:
"... with a fearless layering of voice, Ignite is upfront and unswerving. A novel-esque torrent tracing a troubling history of illness, part confrontation and part chronicle, this collection is daring with its dark narrative. Here is a willingness for, and enviable strength in, extending poetic range. Ignite heals and ascends. There are books that need to be written and this is one of them. This is a collection which gives more and more with every read." (Sandra Ridley, judge, Alfred G. Bailey prize)
"An outstanding follow-up to Spenst's excellent first collection. (Winnipeg Free Press)"
A selection of poems from Ignite won the Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry.
Kevin Spenst is the author of Jabbering with Bing Bong (Anvil Press) and ten chapbooks including Pray Goodbye (the Alfred Gustav Press), Retractable (the serif of nottingham), and Surrey Sonnets (JackPine Press). He has done a one-man show at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and over a hundred readings across the country. His work has won the Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry and has appeared in dozens of publications including Prairie Fire, BafterC, Lemon Hound, Poetry is Dead, and the anthology Best Canadian Poetry 2014. He lives and works in Vancouver, BC where he's an enthusiastic participant in a number of writing communities.