Culture Clash: Jenny Berkel

Exploring her cultural touchstones...

Jenny Berkel's work operates on many different levels.

A renowned poet – she recently issued her debut chapbook Grease Dogs through Baseline Press – this longing for communication also finds expression in her songwriting.

The Canadian artist has a unique emotional pull, with the folk-hewn textures of her work – think Vashti Bunyan, Cat Power's acoustic side, or even Kate and Anna McGarrigle – married to an instinctual approach, rooted in intense feeling.

New album 'These Are The Sounds Left From Leaving' is out now, and it's a striking work, one marked by experience, and the landscapes around her.

“I wrote the album in a tiny apartment, at a time when everything felt big and overwhelming,” she says.

A terrific project, it'll be followed by a string of North American shows, with Jenny Berkel winning over fans one show at a time.

Clash caught up with the Canadian artist to discuss her cultural passions…

Books…

I read a lot, so it’s hard to narrow this down to a small selection, but for poetry, I loved Paul Tran’s new book, All The Flowers Kneeling, and I love everything Ocean Vuong writes (Time Is A Mother is his new book).

I am also a deep admirer of Canadian poet Luke Hathaway, who seems to be equally intrigued by the connections between poetry and song, as well as Anne-Marie Turza, whose book The Quiet is so compelling. One of my favourite novels that I read this year is Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This. It’s funny and strange and heartbreaking.

TV…

There are so many good shows these days. I love What We Do In The Shadows. All of the characters are so good, but I particularly love Nandor, Kayvan Novak’s character. Plus their theme song, 'You’re Dead', is by the brilliant Norma Tanega.

Reservation Dogs was one of my favourite new shows that came out this past year. Landscapers was also so good—the acting, of course, is incredible, but I also love the way it was filmed. It feels like watching a film and a play at the same time.

Movie…

I watch more TV shows than movies these days, but one of the best movies I’ve seen recently is Minari. It’s so tenderly and masterfully told.

Music…

I love Hand Habits’ recent album, 'Fun House'. The song I first heard from it was 'Graves', which is beautiful and moving. I also love love love everything that Big Thief releases – Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting is so detailed, poetic, and strong.

Gadget…

I’m not much of a gadget person, but we did recently get a Lomi, which is a composter that turns organic waste into soil in a matter of hours. It feels like a little bit of a miracle every time I open it up and see the transformation. We’ll see if it helps our garden grow better than it did last year.

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Photo Credit: Rima Sater

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