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The Migraine Hotel (Salt Modern Poets S.) [Paperback]

Luke Kennard
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 April 2009 Salt Modern Poets S.
A combination of verse and prose poetry, 'The Migraine Hotel' is Luke Kennard's third collection and very much a sequel to 'The Harbour Beyond the Movie'. The voices continue to explore the territory opened up by Harbour, at once satiric, stricken, sincere and bitingly sarcastic, combined with a kaleidoscopic range of ways of engaging with a poem as a reader. The prose poems are prose poems in the tradition of Baudelaire, which is to say they read more like grouchy comic monologues with unreliable narrators than prose-verse characterised by excessive lyricism.

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The Migraine Hotel (Salt Modern Poets S.) + The Solex Brothers (Redux): And Other Prose Poems (Salt Modern Poets) + The Harbour Beyond the Movie (Salt Modern Poets)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (28 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844715558
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844715558
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 632,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


The Migraine Hotel, by Luke Kennard (Salt): Luke Kennard's The Harbour Beyond the Movie was that rare commodity: a poetry collection both excellent and laugh-out-loud funny. His latest offering – in which he considers heartbreak, despair and the pleasures of schadenfreude via his own sui generis brand of didactic humour – doesn't disappoint. Fans will be delighted by the return of Wolf, who this time ventures into the fields of psychotherapy and national identity ("'Fortunately my mother was Opus Dei and my father a Methodist,’ says the wolf. ‘Thus, on Tuesdays, I am Catholic in the mornings and Protestant in the afternoons'"). (Sarah Crown The Guardian)


Inventive, academically aware, fearless and hugely enjoyable. (Nick Laird The Telegraph)

There is a considerable intelligence and stylishness in his wry domestication of the beautiful swerves and non-sequiturs of Ashbery's poems, plus a high degree of overt self-consciousness: several poems discuss and undermine their own procedures, or disarm potential criticism. Their main charm, though, is that they are – with their engagingly downbeat, faux-naïve narrators – genuinely funny. (Robert Potts The Telegraph)

Hailed as a witty wunderkind in the poetry world, 26-year-old Kennard starts with contemporary cultural slickness and moves brilliantly into the surreal. Truly, a poet to watch (Christina Patterson The Independent)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Kennard's latest collection 29 July 2009
This book will please any fan of Mr.Kennards poems and also serves as a well balanced introduction to his work. Further more it will delight readers who fell in love with The Wolf of his previous works,The Harbour Beyond the Movie (Salt Modern Poets) and The Solex Brothers (Redux): And Other Prose Poems (Salt Modern Poets), as this anthology contains two excellent adventures of The Wolf, sandwiched lovingly between some of the freshest feeling poetry curently availiable. This has that rare, 'read it aloud for the feel of the words quality', and contains many insights that make re-reading as rewarding as the first time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's new 9 Feb 2014
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been slowly letting my mind marinate in the rich, dissonant, but fascinating thing that is The Migraine Hotel. I am now thoroughly sozzled in it. It is occasionally funny, but sometimes difficult, if not incomprehensible. There is one real poem, in the sense that it is recognisable as a poem (a rondeaux), and a series of poems about a shopping mall that make delightful sense. I am keeping this collection on my desk, and although I am reading other books, I can’t keep my thoughts in order for them. I am profoundly disorientated and may well be found wandering the suburbs of Leeds trying to find someone who might be able to tell me where I live and what I am doing there. It has taken me up, shook me, shouted at me, danced with me and dropped me like a hot potato.
I know it’s silly to write like this about poetry, but I’m not sure I could write about this poetry in any other way. It’s new, startling, intrusive and true.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Knife-Edge of Naff 3 Jan 2010
A number of things made this book stand out for me. It manages to do the absurd/surreal (most of the time) in a surprisingly non-naff way. It's refreshingly impersonal - it doesn't go on about the poet's own family, garden, travel and reading as though we cared about them. It uses prose in order to outflank the unbearable self-importance of the poetic `line'. There's lots of sharp, smart dialogue - so rare to find in poetry. There's satire on easy subjects (nationalism, psychoanalysis, art) but it's done originally and well. And although it's as up-itself as most contemporary poetry is, it uses humour to take the edge off.

Some more notes: the twist to a poem is often a meta-narrative (or 'metapoetic') or ouroboric one (`The last crisp in the bowl is a rat who has eaten the last crisp in the bowl'). There are characters (`The Wolf' and `Erica') who are externalised internal-critics, dramatizing the self-consciousness of the writing; actually I think it's the writer's palpable anxiety about whether he's tipping just over the knife-edge to naffness that gives the work its tension, and stops the absurdism being smug or flip. A poem called `Repetition' repeats variations on the line `What am I to make of all the repetition?' coming particularly close to that tipping point. Poems like `The Dog Descends' where the narrator is brought up first as a dog, then by a dog, reminded me strongly of Mark Leyner (but with less recondite vocabulary) in the piling up and development of absurdities. Leyner seemed to write himself ultimately into a cul-de-sac; hopefully Luke Kennard will find a way through. Anyway, I really enjoyed it!
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Or maybe boo? Heavens, I don't mind a poem being funny, but the humour should be a by-product - we are not just talking jokes that happen to scan. Kennard's prose poems here for instance (if that is what he thinks they are) are a cross between short stories and stand-up. (I was going to call this Working the Room.)

Funny - or silly? Clever - or clever-clever? He's a bright spark, and maybe that's the trouble; I find this glib, or flippant in the wrong way. The right kind would be Matthew Welton's We needed coffee or David Herd's Mandelson! Mandelson! or Tim Turnbull's sublime - dare I say beautiful? - Stranded in Sub-Atomica. I shall persevere (I always enjoy seeing psychoanalysts pilloried, for instance) but I think he needs to up the angst. Ambulance sirens sounding like mean little boys shouting 'Weirdo! Weirdo!' - now that's more like it! - but ultimately Luke Kennard disappears up his own cleverness; and that is perhaps the most poetical thing about him.

PS I see from the back that the estimable Nick Laird describes Kennard as 'academically aware', whatever that's supposed to mean in this context, but maybe that's the trouble? The Alain de Boton of littérateurs - or is that way too cruel?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Delirious, gorgeous, unexpected 9 Nov 2009
By Gromer - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book after watching a brief Youtube video of Luke Kennard reading one of his poems, "The Dusty Era", to a live audience in the UK. There has been quite a lot of write-up about this young poet in England, and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. As a rather jaded and tired working adult, I must confess I can't remember when was the last time I bought a book of modern poems (must have been when I had to study for the GREs?), but I am so glad to have bought this slim volume. Some of the poems are short, episodic prose pieces that are rather like flash fiction, which remind me of how far modern poetry has evolved. Kennard's poems are unpretentious, witty, lyrical, but most importantly, they are sincere. I can't claim to understand all of them, but I am not insecure. I rather like taking a stroll through his delirious world, just like I enjoy walking through the Centre Pompidou and the Tate Modern on a Sunday afternoon. You never know what you are going to encounter round the corner, but you can be sure you will glimpse the inner workings of a fevered artist who spent more time worrying about something that you should be worried about and yet lack the time, inclination, or ability to. In this era of easily digestible and brainless media, "The Migraine Hotel" is sparkling, challenging, and new. Time and money well spent.
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