Lewis Kenny is a 23-year-old spoken word artist hailing from the north inner city of Dublin. His works draw on urban experience and youth culture, bringing to light social and economic situations that the youth of our day face.
He is a First Fortnight slam champion and is a regular performer on the Dublin and festival circuit, including headlining his own show at Electric Picnic entitled ‘OutStraight’. He is the founder of the Inter-Varsity Poetry Slam and IADT Poetry Society. He is the poet in residence for Bohemians football club. Has made numerous television and radio appearances including RTÉ One’s art show ‘The Works’, ‘Soccer Republic’, The John Murray Show and the Breakfast Republic. He has written and starred in several advertisement campaigns, such as Euro 2016, and has been a featured performer on BBC One’s Euro Football Show. Has been a featured poet in many Irish newspapers and magazines including The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Evening Herald and Rabble. His video shot with RTE entitled ‘Cabra’ was featured in Zebra Poetry Film Festival 2014 in Berlin. His work has seen him share the stage with the likes of Saul Williams, Kate Tempest, and Akala to name a few.
“Are you from Cork
I am a roo.
D’ye eat potatoes?
By god I do.
Which way d’ye eat them?
Skin and all.
You must be joking?
Not at all.”
The first rhyming couplets I ever learned
was me da’s usual morning call.
Up on Saturdays
for Dennys, batch bread and
DDSL Premier Football.
I remember all the aulfellas
stoned on the side-lines cheering us on
at 9 o’clock
And in the car home
him telling the same taxi-driver jokes
a hundred times over,
I’d have to beg him to stop.
It’s in the blood he’d always say Lewis
It’s what makes us the way we are
You can take the boy our the flats
But you cant take the flats out of the boy
There’s no changing that.
We’d stop on the way home for McDonalds
and for him to do his lotto,
It was then he’d mutter his same old motto.
“By this time next year Lewis we’ll be millionares,
“We’re onto a winner” he’d say.
Or that I’ll make me fortune when I was older
and look after him and me ma one day.
He said it with such assurance
I was certain it was a sure thing.
Football, boxing or music your choice.
So I made sure I learned how to shoot, fight and sing.
My brother would always tease me
He’d call me a frigid
Or a faggot
Or any other poxy word
He’d think of to slag ye.
I met a mot on me holidays
Was the common phrase I’d use
When I hadn’t kissed anyone.
It’s mad how things change from when you were young.
Fast forward only a bit but
Long gone now are the days of cross country knick-nacking
The leather bound
Found under a car
Ball to neighbour wall smacking
Replaced now by car jackings
And rally flashing around Shandon
Crashing into fences
Handbreakers tearing up the field.
Trading in stabiliser training wheels
for selling papers to fund your 10-spot deals.
I remember when I was younger,
I’d bite a lump off the block of pollen
Me da’d usually keep stashed
in his Moroccan hash box when there was a drought on
I’d take enough for a bucket bong
And a few blowbacks of a joint.
The crack-shack at the back of the Hockier
was the usual meeting point for me and me mates.
If that all failed,
We’d take shelter in the solid solitude of
10 blue, two-lillys and asphyxiated rushes
Round the back of the petrol station bushes.
Cuz chest pains,
brain dead heads
and being a sloppy mess
Was how we got our buzz back then.
Home at 10.
It’s kicking off with me ma and da again.
“It’s ok son, we’re just gonna take a break for a while.
Get a custard cream outta that biscuit tin for yourself
It’s alright, go on”
Just another of me granny’s old knitting kits under the lid.
It’s mad how things change from when you’re a kid.
I remember the cypher crews we joined
Recka Recka Rewind
Up to Ballymun flats to spit our very first rhyme.
The Soundtrack of those times was
The Documentary, Straight outta Compton,
Enter the Wu and Chronic by Dre
We used to get into scraps over who’d be Eazy
when we’d rap to NWA without pause.
Relating to the struggle back then
Before we even knew what the struggle was.
We had Biggie and Pac
out the phones,
And sticking them together through infared
to straight sonic swap
the newest polyphonic ringtones.
And when winter came round
The whole place caught fire
came alight with light, colour and sound.
Bangers and smoke bombs off
on the back of the bus
Burning pallets, tyres, and wheelie bins at Broomer
And no sooner it’d start would the guards come
To smack the fuck out of us when we got smart.
Sometimes we’d take flight over the L-wall,
through the Industos,
Snatch and go from on-the-run
Sure what else would you do for fun around here?
Tesco trolleys and empty cans
Litter the banks of the Royal Corruption
Your chats were lethal
Your tunes banger
and your docker lumps were tucked into your sock.
after school were spent singing songs
with the alcos at the first lock.
If you asked right and gave them the odds
the sound ones would run in and get you a few beers.
It’s mad how things change through the years.
There are things that you learn
when you’re working class.
Even with all the broken glass, bricks and mortar
That give teeth to back lanes and streets,
For all the sirens and screeching tires,
The revved up or burnt out cars
That hang on to every breeze,
All the Friday night fights
The flash of spark lights
beside a bonfire in Anamoe lane.
That from boy to man fully grown
This concrete wild is home.
That’ll always be the same.
It’s only when you’re older
You see it.
But to me it’s strange
The way some things around here
just don’t change.