Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Special Feature—Kennings—By Waterfront Writers—United Kingdom

Kennings—By Waterfront Writers—United Kingdom

Even if you've never heard of Kennings, you've probably used them, with 'four-eyes' or 'book-worm'.  Kennings are usually two nouns that can be used to represent a person, thing or place, such as 'pen-pusher' for an office worker. Anglo-Saxon, Celt and Norse poetry often used Kennings. For example, the sea could be called 'whale-road' or a sword could be 'blood-icicle’. In fact, Kennings are named after the Nordic kenna eitt við ('to express one thing in terms of another'). They often used alliteration, assonance, or rhyme to add colour to these. My good friends at the Plymouth-based Waterfront Writers introduced me to Kennings. and I have come up with some examples for 'writer'. I hope you’ll enjoy these too!

                                            Jack Horne—England

Book Writers
Busy Thinkers
Cheer Writers
Collective Thinkers
Comfort Givers
Dream Builders
Dream Purveyors
History Makers
Ink Innovators
Language Drivers
Letter magicians
Mind Benders
Paper Fillers
Pen Pushers
People Scryers
People Watchers
Print Proposers
Prose Pilgrims
Prose Propagators
Reality Changers
Reality Scribblers
Story Sculptors
Story Scribblers
Story Tellers
Tale Tellers
Thought Collectors
Thought Provokers
Tongue Smiths
Verse Warblers
Word Conjurers
Word Herders
Word Performers
Word Purveyors
Word Shepherds
Word Spinners
Word Warblers
Word Weavers
Word Whisperers

These Kennings were a group exercise, with contributions from:

Carol Butson
Sarah Boulton-Way
Sarah Tindall
Joyce Matthews
John Butson
Dick Benson-Gyles
Thea Bruten
Don Weal
Annie Jenkin
Nick Spargo
Jan Stalker

Waterfront Writers are one of Plymouth’s oldest creative writing groups, starting more than twenty-one years ago at the Barbican Theatre. After three years associated with the theatre the group move location a number of times, growing and changing, until arriving at its present location, Swarthmore Hall.  As this building was founded by Quakers, the group decided that it would adopt a “family friendly” approach to all its work.  To this end members’ work does not contain profanity, bad language, blatant sexual content or extreme violence.

Despite these apparent restrictions, the group has achieved considerable success with performances in both the theatre and at street festivals, readings in libraries, community support activities and open mic events.  The group has also had a number of anthologies published, the latest of which, Waves of Sound, is still available on Amazon (search Waterfront Writers Plymouth).  Individually, members of the group are frequently published both in print and online, several have had books published, including non-fiction, novels and verse.

                                    Nick Spargo, Chairperson, Waterfront Writers


  1. Dear Waterfront Writers,

    This is part of what I hoped for in opening Whispers five years ago. In connecting with the past, the present and future have a chance to connect and share artistic forms that would be lost without opportunities to find relevance in a global community of today. Thank you all for bring this form to light.

    Whispering Writers

    I hope my humble example is in keeping with the history of this form.

    Blessings and best wishes,

  2. Thank you for your message Karen, your Kenning certainly works :)

    1. Thank you so much, Annie! It's a joy to have you poetry to share with Whispers. I appreciate your ongoing support and encouragement.


  3. Thank you for sharing what is a nicely executed new form to me. Look forward to reading more of your works.

  4. thanks to Karen, Nick & to all at Waterfront in England's 'Ocean City' for this

    1. Thank you, Jack and Nick, for making this wonderful article possible. I also appreciate all the Waterfront Writers that shared their Kennings for a learning experience for Whispers readers.


  5. It is nice to realize the origin of these kind of techniques. Another way to look deep into words and their meanings. Thanks for sharing your exercise. I have one to add. ‘Soul Sayers.’ Regards to the Waterfront Writers. Suzanne.

  6. Most interesting, especially the Anglo-Saxon, Celt and Norse poetry origin of a 'Kenning' Peace Pleader could be someone who mediates between two warring parties. Thanks Waterfront writers for sharing.

    Best wishes,

  7. Never knew what they were called, but I've used kennings many times and heard them many more.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  8. Thank you all for your kind words on this wonderful article. I hope we can share more poetry from this talented group in the future as individual poems, collaborative poetry, or maybe even another article. Blessings to the Waterfront Writers for your hard work on this collective piece.

    Wishing you all continued success,

  9. Thank you to all involved in this initiative. Sharing work, knowledge and ideas is something to truly appreciate. Best regards ~ paul

  10. Thank you for adding to my desired acquisition of knowledge and writing skills. I am certainly an example of the idiom, "old dogs can learn new tricks". I had not heard of the term Kennings before today.
    Sincerely, Charlene