Kenney, who teaches poetry in the undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts programs at the University of Washington, writes poems as informed by science as they are by Celtic and classical literatures. He was a faculty member at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference during nineteen-eighties, teaching and writing alongside such writers as James Welch, Marvin Bell, and Tobias Wolff.
Influenced by the geological work of John McPhee, as well as by such poets as Keats, Hopkins, Yeats, Auden, Frost, and Larkin, Kenney writes about human evolution and language origins, the cognitive basis of poetic forms, magical reasoning, and the Darwinian lives of subliterary species such as jokes, riddles, proverbs, charms, spells, nursery rhymes, and weather-saws.
Kenney’s books include "The Evolution of the Flightless Bird", "Orrery", and "The Invention of the Zero". His most recent book, "The One-Strand River", is a collection of poems from 1994 to 2007.
In this book, from which he will be reading on Sunday, Kenney tells tales of loves, births, and politics—in lively, quicksilver language that surprises at every turn. He often strikes a note that is rare in contemporary poetry—the satirical attack, with an eye on the news of the day—and ponders the “one-strand river” that is the sea, with its one encircling shore and its tidal pull on both the landscape and the human heart.
For a number of years Kenney led the UW creative-writing summer seminar in Rome. His work has appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, among many others.
The afternoon reading is free, and is presented as part of a new partnership between Centrum and Peninsula College’s Foothills Writers’ Series.