Luke Kennard at Norfolk & Norwich Festival

Poetry can challenge, reinterpret, and entertain, and Luke Kennard’s does all three.

Reading in Norwich as part of Toast Poetry’s residency at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Kennard cut a genial but bashful figure.

His verse was far from an imposition though.

He picked, seemingly at random, works from his biblically-inspired collection Cain, a work in progress based on the Book of Jonah, Forward Prize winning Notes on the Sonnets, and new material provisionally titled Flat White.

His work is scholarly, intense, but still sparkles with fun: Sonnets meditates on Shakespeare’s famous collection but set against the backdrop of a house party. When one guest claims to be able to recite all the Bard’s poems from memory, our narrator doubts him – only to be proved spectacularly and self-effacingly wrong.

Elsewhere he jokes about the financial realities of a poet. “I’d always thought I’d want a fan. Until I got one,” he says, as adoration escalates hyperbolically to generate an industrial-size self-serving PR machine.

There are plenty of gorgeous, absurdist images too. Opening poem Chorus imagines a man constantly pursued by a choir, eventually singing “He cannot get to sleep in perfect fifths”. Like them he gets the tone spot on.