By Laura Bollin
A Chicago Ridge resident inspired by a sense of feeling lost after his graduation from college has published a book of his poetry he believes speaks to his generation.
Kevin Kenealy, 25, had since his days at Richards High School thought about writing a book. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008 and joining the workforce, Kenealy became disenchanted with a life he thought would be a different than the one he was living, and a job he expected to be more fulfilling. From this period was spawned the idea to publish “Twentysomething,” a collection of poetry he had compiled over several years.
“I was working at the Village View [community newspaper], and I just thought it was going to be more,” said Kenealy, who is working today as a freelance writer for
The Doings in Hinsdale and paraprofessional aide for Elim School in Palos Heights. “I talked to friends, and they were living at home, working part-time jobs, not able to have the career they wanted to yet. I thought I would be on my own, and we were kind of stuck.”
Kenealy remembered another education class he’d taken in high school, where he created a list of things he wanted to accomplish.
“Like a bucket list,” Kenealy said. “On mine was publishing a book.”
Kenealy connected two years ago with authorhouse.com, a self-publishing website, through a former baseball coach. “Twentysomething” is divided into sections on such topics as lost poetry, love and nature, and each section starts off with a page about what the poems mean to Kenealy. The book features the southwest suburbs in both words and photographs including one of a sunset in Worth. “The Car Ride” states, “I feel like I’m in a movie, like a Quentin Tarantino/Oak Lawn never looked so strange to me.”
Kenealy said he is inspired to write by the world around him.
“There is poetry in the every-day, and in the people that are around you,” he said. “From a problem as big as homeless people to something as small as somebody worrying too much — poetry can come out of anywhere.”
Kenealy wrote his first poem, “The Moottoo Bird of Sunset Bay,” when he was 15.
“It was inspired by [artist and author] Shel Silverstein, and it was terrible,” he said with a laugh.
Along with the humorous Silverstein, Kenealy enjoys the works of beat poet Allen Ginsberg and humanist Walt Whitman for their free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness style.
Another one of Kenealy’s poems, “At the Doctor,” was inspired by his father, whom he said is constantly worrying, Kenealy said. “My horoscope says I’m a cancer/what kind?” it reads then goes on to diagnose the person with “worryitis.”
Social issues are also an important aspect of Kenealy’s work.
“I worked in a homeless shelter for several weeks and wrote ‘Homeless, Sweet Homeless,’ about the label homeless people are given in society,” he explained. “I worked in retail for many years, and smaller stores were losing out to big box stores. I thought it was important to write about that.
“For some of my funny poetry, I think it is important to sit down and laugh a little bit.”
“Twentysomething” can purchased for $19.50 at authorhouse.com, $33 at amazon.com or $20 by emailing email@example.com.