Kennings in the Community


I did my Kennings workshops at the weekend- they were really fun and interesting. Amongst other tasks, my class had to ‘unwrite’ Beowulf using collloquialisms and re-write ‘Life’ by Des’ree using Kennings. The end results for the ‘Life’ exercise were astounding- the horrible pop lyrics were transformed into something really beautiful, and utterly obscure- you can see the results here. It’s what Des’ree would want.


My daughter did some good drawings for the class- this one was for the Kenning ‘Malignant Enemy of the World’ or ‘Devil’ in Modernspeak. Lots of other good Kennings got written around this as a warm-up. On Sunday we had a go at rewriting ‘Prufrock’ using Kennings which was pretty tiring and complex, but very interesting. I’ll be posting all the poems online at some point.


I don’t know what happens when you write this way- but it seems like a kind of magic. There were some seriously good poems written over the weekend and we had so much fun as well. Thanks to The Create Place in Bethnal Green for lending us the space and also thanks to Debbie Potts for being my right hand woman. We’re currently in talks to develop the workshops and take them into schools etc, so lots of exciting things on the horizon.

Here is what some of my students said about the classes-

‘Emma Hammond presented us with surprising, challenging exercises, whilst maintaining a relaxed and encouraging workshop atmosphere. ”Skaldifying’ a set of bubblegum pop lyrics by using kennings to try to turn them into a serious poem was an unexpected, inspiring highlight!’  Andrew Smardon, poet

‘The Kennings workshops were brilliant. Very interesting and informative I shall now be keen to find out more about the viking’s literacy legacy; put across in an easy to follow and entertaining manner – much fun had re-writing poetry classics with use of kennings; and I feel I have been supplied with another weapon in my armoury for writing poems. Only complaint – they finished too soon. Great fun.’  John Grant, poet


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