Books Read and Recommended 2021

Ah, the season of lists… Here’s to curling up with a good book! Happy reading…

In this annus horribilis, I took refuge, as so many did, in books, both audio and print. My pleasure was to take out both versions of a title from the library: if I fell asleep listening, I could catch up by reading the text. Commentary was mostly quotes I loved from the books, so I have included only a few; scroll down.

Poetry highly recommended: Some of my favourite prose this year: all by Canadian women!:

An eclectic collection! I’m surprised at the gender balance in books I’ve read over the last two years: I would have thought I’d read more women. You can tell I go on author-binges… Most books came from London Library, with my thanks

Comments below.

May 2022 be shimmering!

Books Read

Garous Abdolmalekian; translated from the Persian by Ahmad Nadalizadeh and Idra Novey. Lean against this late hour

Jordan Abel, Nishga

Ayad Akhtar, Homeland Elegies

Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind

André Alexis, The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction

Madhur Anand, This red line goes straight to your heart: a memoir in halves

Gail Anderson-Dargatz, The Almost Wife A Novel

Raymond Antrobus, The perseverance

Marianne Apostolides, I can’t get you out of my mind: a novel

Rae Armantrout, Conjure

Katherine Ashenburg, Her Turn

Margaret Atwood, Dearly

Oana Avasilichioaei, Eight Track  

Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Café

John Banville, Mrs. Osmond

Pat Barker, The Women of Troy (Women of Troy #2)

Julian Barnes, The Man in the Red Coat

Sebrastian Barry, The Secret Scripture

Gary Barwin, Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy

Billy-Ray Belcourt, A history of my brief body

Matt Bell, Appleseed

SJ Bennett, The Windsor Knot  

Nina Berkhout, Why Birds Sing

Frank Bidart, Half Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

Heather Birrell, Float and scurry

Yolanda Bonnell, Bug

William Boyd, Trio

Rutger Bregman, Humankind: a hopeful history

A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree witches: a novel

Nic Brewer, Suture

Nicole Brossard, Museum of bone and water; translated by Robert Majzels and Erín Moure

Carol Bruneau, Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Maud Lewis

Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still
Cathy Marie Buchanan, Daughter of Black Lake

Gabriella Burnham, It Is Wood, It Is Stone

Catherine Bush, Blaze Island

Rhonda Byrne, The Greatest Secret

Julia Cameron, The Listening Path, The Creative Art of Attention (A 6-Week Artist’s Way Program)

Anne Carson, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy: a version of Euripides’ Helen

Louise Carson, The Cat Possessed

Jody Chan, Sick

Mary Jean Chan, Flèche

Victoria Chang, Obit: poems  

Deepak Chopra, Total meditation: practices in living the awakened life

Don Mee Choi, DMZ colony

Jillian Christmas, the gospel of breaking

George Elliott Clarke, Where Beauty Survived: An Africadian Memoir

Susanna Clarke, Piranesi  

Joseph Coelho, The girl who became a tree: a story told in poems

Henri Cole, Blizzard: poems

Bridget Collins, The Binding

Maryse Condé, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem

Eduardo C. Corral, Guillotine: poems

Jeanine Cummins, American Dirt

Rachel Cusk, Second Place

The Dalai Lama, Advice On Dying, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins

Joseph Dandurand, The East Side of It All

Lauren B. Davis, Even So

Edmund de Waal, Letters to Camondo

Abigail Dean, Girl A

Barbara Demick, Eat the Buddha

Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial love poem

Joan Didion, Let Me Tell You What I Mean

Jenny Diski, Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?: Essays

Cory Doctorow, Radicalized
Cory Doctorow, Attack Surface

Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

Naoise Dolan, Exciting times: a novel

Dom Domanski, Bite down little whisper

Avni Doshi, Burnt Sugar

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Marilyn Dumont, The pemmican eaters

Klara du Plessis, Ekke

Kim Echlin, Speak, Silence

Francesca Ekwuyasi, Butter honey pig bread: a novel

Omar El Akkad, What Strange Paradise

Lucy Ellmann, Ducks, Newburyport

Síle Englert, The lost time accidents

Mariana Enriquez, The dangers of smoking in bed: stories

Louise Erdrich, The Sentence

Annie Ernaux, A girl’s story
Annie Ernaux, Hôtel Casanova: et autres textes brefs

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Untie the strong woman: Blessed Mother’s immaculate love for the wild soul
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype

Sebastian Faulks, Snow Country

Elana Ferrante, Incidental inventions; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Richard Flanagan, The living sea of waking dreams

Carolyn Forché, In the lateness of the world

Aminatta Forna, The Window Seat: Notes From a Life in Motion

Tana French, The Searcher
The Trespasser
Dublin Murder Squad Series, Book 6

Rivka Galchen, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

Benjamin Garcia, Thrown in the throat: poems

Gary Geddes, Out of the ordinary: politics, poetry and narrative

Doireann Ni Ghriofa, A Ghost in the Throat

Camilla Gibb, The Relatives

Chantal Gibson, How She Read

Malcolm Gladwell, The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

Louise Glück, American originality: essays on poetry
Louise Gluck, Faithful and virtuous night

Peter Godfrey-Smith, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith, Metazoa: animal life and the birth of the mind

Seth Godin, The practice: shipping creative work
Seth Godin, Linchpin

Carol Rose GoldenEagle, The Narrows of Fear

Ariel Gordon, Treed: walking in Canada’s urban forests

Mary Gordon, Payback

Amanda Gorman, The hill we climb: an inaugural poem for the country; foreword by Oprah Winfrey

Vivian Gornick, Taking a long look: essays on culture, literature, and feminism in our time

Catherine Graham, Æther: an out-of-body lyric

Adam Grant, Think Again

Richard Greene, The unquiet Englishman: a life of Graham Greene

Lauren Groff, Matrix (William Heinemann)

Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl

Robert Hass, Summer snow: new poems  

Cate Haste, Passionate spirit: the life of Alma Mahler

Natalie Haynes, The ancient guide to modern life
Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships

Richard Heath, Sacred geometry: language of the angels

Steven Heighton, Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos

Amy Hempel, Sing to it: new stories

Gay Hendricks, The big leap: conquer your hidden fear and take life to the next level. Gay Hendricks.

Tara Henley, Lean out: a meditation on the madness of modern life

Catherine Hernandez, Crosshairs

Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze me

Anne Hillerman, Stargazer

Edward Hirsch, Stranger by night: poems

Alice Hoffman, The Dovekeepers
Alice Hoffman, Magic lessons
Alice Hoffman, The Book of Magic

Eva Holland, Nerve: adventures in the science of fear

Bettany Hughes, Venus and Aphrodite: a biography of desire

Helen Humphreys, Meditations on a year at the herbarium

Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun

Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf: The Dark Star Trilogy, Book 1

Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society

Amanda Jernigan, Groundwork: poems; with wood engravings by John Haney | Biblioasis

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life.

Donna Kane, Orrery

Patricia Keeney, Orpheus in the World

Kaie Kellough, Magnetic equator
Kaie Kellough, Dominoes at the Crossroads

Thomas King, Sufferance

Barbara Kingsolver, How to Fly in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons

Theresa Kishkan, Euclid’s Orchard & Other Essays

Rachel Kushner, The Hard Crowd

Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts

Kevin Lambert, You will love what you have killed; translated from the French by Donald Winkler

Shari Lapena, The End of Her

Mary Lawson, A Town Called Solace

John le Carré, Silverview

Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Amanda Leduc, The Centaur’s Wife

Jessica J. Lee, Two trees make a forest: travels among Taiwan’s mountains & coasts in search of my family’s past  

Donna Leon, Transient desires

Jonathan Lethem, The Arrest

Deborah Levy, Swimming Home
Deborah Levy, Things I don’t want to knowDeborah Levy, The Man Who Saw Everything

Ada Limón, The Carrying

Penelope Lively, Family Album: A Novel

Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This

Randy Lundy, Blackbird Song

Annick MacAskill, Murmurations

Tanis MacDonald, Mobile

Carmen Maria Machado, In the dream house: a memoir

Margaret Macmillan, War

Alberto Manguel, Fabulous monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and other literary friends

Hilary Mantel, Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books

Daphne Marlatt, On the Threshold of the Page
Daphne Marlatt, Then Now

Bobbie Ann Mason, Dear Ann  

Meg Mason, Sorrow and bliss: a novel

Francesco Matteuzzi, Mark Rothko: the story of his life

Imbolo Mbue, How Beautiful We Were: A Novel

Karen McBride, Crow Winter

Susan McCaslin, Heart Work
Susan McCaslin, Cosmic Egg

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations
Charlotte McConaghy, Once There Were Wolves

Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum  

Hollie McNish, Nobody Told Me: The Poetry of Parenthood

Tessa McWatt, The Snow Line

Sandra Meek, Still: poems

Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King

Meg Mason, Sorrow and bliss: a novel

Francesco Matteuzzi, Mark Rothko: the story of his life

Sue Miller, Monogamy

N. Scott Momaday, The death of Sitting Bear: new and selected poems

Lorrie Moore, Bark

Virginia Morell, Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic

Valzhyna Mort, Music for the Dead and Resurrected Poet

Walter Mosley, Blood Grove

Sarah Moss, Summerwater

Paul Muldoon, Frolic and detour

Sachiko Murakami, Render

Téa Mutonji, Shut Up You’re Pretty

James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Alice Notley, For the ride

Sigrid Nunez, What are you going through

Okezie Nwoka, God of Mercy

Barack Obama, A Promised Land

Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Susan Orlean, On Animals

Nadia Owusu, Aftershocks: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Identity

Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness  

Louise Penny & Hillary Rodham Clinton, State of Terror
Louise Penny, The Madness of Crowds

Charlie Petch, Why I was late

Marlene Nourbese Philip, Blank: essays & interviews

Jodi Picoult, The Book of Two Ways

Signe Pike, The forgotten kingdom

Michael Pollan, This is Your Mind on Plants

C.L. Polk, The Midnight Bargain

Vasko Popa, Vasko Popa: selected poems / selected and translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Charles Simic

Richard Powers, Bewilderment

Beth Powning, The Sister’s Tale

Francine Prose, The Vixen

Ian Rankin, A Song for the Dark Times

Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

David A. Robertson, Black Water

Lisa Robertson, Baudelaire Fractals

Eden Robinson, Return of the Trickster  

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future

Marilynne Robinson, Jack
Marilynne Robinson, What are we doing here?

Monique Roffey, The Mermaid of Black Conch

Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You

Matthew Rubery, The Untold History of the Talking Book

Muriel Rukeyser, The collected poems, 1913-1980

Kate Elizabeth Russell, My Dark Vanessa

Kay Ryan, Synthesizing gravity: selected prose; edited and with an introduction by Christian Wiman
Kay Ryan, The best of it: new and selected poems

Sadhguru, Karma

Jennifer Saint, Ariadne

Mark Sampson, All the Animals on Earth

George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life

Sara Seager, The Smallest Lights in the Universe

Vijay Seshadri, That was now, this is then: poems

Hana Shafi, Small, broke, and kind of dirty: affirmations for the real world
Hana Shafi, It begins with the body: poems & illustrations

Robin Sharma, The Everyday Hero Manifesto

Lionel Shriver, Should we stay or should we go: a novel

Daniel Siegel, Aware

Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering How the Forest Is Wired for Intelligence and Healing  

Goran Simic, Immigrant Blues

Sue Sinclair, Heaven’s thieves

SJ Sindhu, Blue-Skinned Gods

Richard-Yves Sitoski, No Sleep ‘til Eden
Richard-Yves Sitoski, Brownfields: poems
Richard-Yves Sitoski, No Downmarket Oldies FM Station Blues

Jake Skeets, Eyes bottle dark with a mouthful of flowers / poems by Jake Skeets

Johanna Skibsrud, Island

Danez Smith, Homie

Ali Smith, Summer

Rebecca Solnit, Orwell’s Roses

Dani Spiotta, Wayward

Mirabai Starr, Wild mercy: living the fierce and tender wisdom of the women mystics  

Edward St. Aubyn, Double blind

John Elizabeth Stintzi, Junebat
John Elizabeth Stintzi, Vanishing Monuments

David Stones, sfumato: new and selected poems

Elizabeth Strout, Oh William!

Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

Graham Swift, Here We Are

Arthur Sze, Sight Lines

Lisa Taddeo, Animal: a novel

Katie Tallo, Dark August

Jordan Tannahill, Liminal

Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Jeff Vandermeer, Hummingbird salamander

Katherena Vermette, The Strangers

Vendela Vida, We Run the Tides: A Novel

Sara Wainscott, Insecurity system: poems

Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep

Natalie Zina Walschots, Hench: a novel

Jo Walton, Or what you will

Phoebe Wang, Admission Requirements

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Awakening the Sacred Body

Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

Ruth Ware, The Turn of the Key

Marina Warner, Inventory of a life mislaid: an unreliable memoir

Bryan Washington, Memorial

Elizabeth Waterston, Railway Ties 1888-1920
Elizabeth Waterston, Plaid

Phyllis Webb, Selected poems: the vision tree

Pip Williams, The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs: Maisie Dobbs Series, Book 1

Kathleen Winter, Undersong

Peter Wohlleben, The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature

Elana Wolff, Swoon

Yi Lei, My name will grow wide like a tree: selected poems /; translated from the Chinese by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi   Yi, Lei, author.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Prince of Mist

Julia Zarankin,            Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder: A Memoir

Lindsay Zier-Vogel, Letters to Amelia: a novel

Kathryn Aalto, Writing wild: women poets, ramblers, and mavericks who shape how we see the natural world 

Caroline Adderson, editor. The Journey prize stories: the best of Canada’s new writers

A very few comments

The foodie mystery series I love are by Louise Penny (of course!), in Québec Donna Leon in Venice and Martin Walker in Provence.

I love how books, movies and dreams find one another in corresponding themes.

Peter Kingsley, Reality: Profound and beautifully written. This book will shift your perception of the whole of Western culture from Plato on!

Portrait of a Lady on Fire: After reading Undersong, I watched Portrait of a Lady on Fire: so interesting on the female gaze sans men, the artist’s gaze. Marianne, a painter, and Héloïse, and the countess’s maid Sophie: Orpheus and Eurydice live! Director: Céline Sciamma

The Spanish Princess: Watched while reading Hilary Mantel’s Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books. Her one word for Philippa Gregory: minced!

Feeling isolated? Then read Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind, and you’ll feel much better. Or worse. How fiction plays out: in the Netflix movie, Denzel Washington will play his namesake, George Herbert Washington. Amanda even comments that they look alike: “Has anyone ever told you that?” Well, yes.😜

Reading Tanis MacDonald’s Mobile directly after Madhur Anand, This red line goes straight to your heart: a memoir in halves is a scrumptious act of apophenia: “gratuitous pattern-finding in random data”. How I loved the play of form in free fall, O bricoleuses! After Gavin’s death in September, I’ve been mired in bureaucracy and practicality, removed from poetry, even from reading. Then MOBILE! Mad MacDonald hurtled me back to poetry. “From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives, A way of happening, a mouth.” W. H. Auden, “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”. How I loved the Jane poems: Jacobs would have too! Tanis spun so many words in the air, O Juggler, that I caught the drift and wrote all that I could not say about this huge transition (well, a start…) So, gratitude for your verve, and hugs in the swerve~

I didn’t think much of Natalie Haynes’s-A Thousand Ships but enjoyed Pat Barker, The Women of Troy (Women of Troy #2): a feminist take indeed! Briseis: “elation is one of the many faces of grief…Like savages, we ingest our dead.”

Gary Barwin, Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy: Begin at high noon, as Motl might suggest, and you will be still reading long into the night, impelled by plot and even more by language to conclude. A picaresque, quixotic triumph.
Here’s celebrating all the balloons Gary keeps suspended in the air… and makes manifest! I must have known (but didn’t!) that it was your birthday, having started your novel on June 22, and then read that was the day the Nazis invaded Lithuania! It’s a master work, hovering between tragedy and the humour you bring to all your work… very like Indigenous writing in that good regard! The novel reads like Salmon Rushdie on a very good day in its exuberant inclusivity… but the writing is so much tauter than Rushdie’s rush, and it never totters. Nor does it falter in its picaresque but sure dash toward safety, somewhere, surely!
“those three dots in a row…Ellipses. They mean something’s missing. If you erase them, you have to put them back in to show you’ve erased them. We’re like that. We’re the absence of absence. We didn’t have a future, but we’re going there anyway.”

SJ Bennett, The Windsor Knot: Yep, watched The Crown. Speaking of the monarchy, I loved The Windsor Knot: the Queen at 90 as detective at Windsor Castle, portrayed as a Superior Being. The audio captures her clipped voice to perfection. Really fun and fascinating. A new series!

A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree witches: a novel: I think you’d enjoy Alice Hoffman’s The Book of Magic: herbal fun and sweet plot. I followed it with A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree witches: a novel. This book gives context and historical accuracy and is much better written and also heavier!

Nic Brewer, Suture: You think as an artist you sweat blood? SUTURE literalizes the metaphors! Should be on every creative writing course as a warning 😊

Completely wrapped up in Carol Bruneau’s Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Maud Lewis. Thanks for shining this light in dusty & dark corners. Such a tender, illuminating book! In this #pandemic, #publishing is tough & #selling #books even tougher. So when we #read something grand, it’s glorious to #SpreadTheWord! @ValueCdnStories

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Cathy Marie Buchanan, Daughter of Black Lake: It’s a marvellous re-creation of such little-known history! By chance (which means when the book is due back at the library!), after finishing Signe Pike’s The forgotten kingdom, I open the evocative, moving Daughter of Black Lake and couldn’t put it down. Women healers who foresee Roman invaders, a few centuries apart!

Catherine Bush, Blaze Island @goose_lane: On the BEST BOOK List! Oh & a mysterious birder searching for irruptions at the start of the marvellous Blaze Island novel :et in Newfoundland but with The Tempest ever present, including a young Miranda on a remote island. Thanks for this glorious, essential work that makes a riveting novel out of necessary science. Redolent, relevant, and haunting, it’s still gleaming in my mind. Have been recommending it to everyone.
We live in such synchronicity. The night before I began your novel, I dreamt: A sparkling blue lake and sunshine. I run along over the hills, looking for the Island out in the water, looking for the ferry. But have I overshot the city? There are no signs of anything urban, though I have trekked miles, back and forth over the terrain of woods and fields. Have I travelled back into a pre-colonial paradise? There’s no Indigenous presence either. Nothing human here disturbs the natural cycle. How shall I return to my friends? I’m happy here in this other dimension, but will I be able ever to step back?

One of the advantages of the Pandemic is how many of us are outside, even in the cold. And there are bald eagles in London ON, swooping down the river!

By chance, right after Blaze Island, I read Montreal fantasy writer Jo Walton’s Or what you will. Also playing with The Tempest and another Miranda:), it really bridges that mean-spirited gulf between genre and literary fiction (even if it needs a bit more tweaking). I think of Jung’s precognitive (what an interesting word, pre cognition!) apocalyptic dreams of a flood of blood, pre-WW1. We surely are herd animals, and thoughts of dread and fear sweep through into stampede. My work these days is to stay alert to what is mine and what is communal… to expand to a plane beyond fear into spaciousness.

Victoria Chang, Obit: I write down her name as Change.
“Who would want to speak prose over such poems,” cries Jorie Graham. Jorie Graham hosts today’s powerful readings live now and up later on https://www.youtube.com/c/TheBrooklynRail/videos
“The way we assume all tears taste the same. The way our sadness is plural, but grief is singular.”

For Black History Month, I read Maryse Condé, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem.

Speaking of cattails, I loved Rachel Cusk’s new Second Place, , set in marchland: by far her most interesting and based on Mabel Dodge, D.H. Lawrence:)! And by far her most interesting and based on Mabel Dodge, D.H. Lawrence:)!

Delighted in the new Rachel Cusk, Second Place. Mabel Dodge and D.H. Lawrence:) in second place, second phase! Truly remarkable perceptions, by far her best work…. no longer that detached null-at-centre narrator of the trilogy. I think Cusk has learned from Joan Didion’s concision in remarking on the peripheral that has not yet been articulated! Fascinating re art, and the background Laurentian story…. Highly recommend Paul Fulcher ‘s reflections in Goodreads, comparing Second Place with Mabel Dodge Luhan’s Lorenzo in Taos. Dodge ‘s book has a new half-life, a palimpsest… a second Second Place, with a wet Norfolk marsh replacing dry New Mexico.
If you enjoyed Cusk’s trilogy, I can’t wait for you to read SECOND PLACE! Individually, I’d assign four stars to each of the three books. But they are so interesting as a formal whole, that five stars works.

Lauren B. Davis, Even So A paean to the Sisters of St. Joseph and the work they do!

Joan Didion, Let Me Tell You What I Mean

“We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience,” Joan Didion

 “In many ways, writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions – with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating –there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space” Joan Didion, Why I Write

afterthought, the saddest story.’ Well, he would not have to fail at writing them, either.’”

the shimmer of her writing! I think Rachel Cusk has learned from Joan Didion’s concision in remarking on the peripheral that has not yet been articulated!

Delighted in this collection of essays, tracing “Why I Write”. You can breathe easily and trust Didion’s perspicacity, her wry wit and oblique perceptions that so clarify a worldview that is unflinching. To quote her on Hemmingway: “the very grammar of a Hemmingway sentence dictated, or was dictated by, a certain way of looking at the world, a way of looking but not joining, a way of moving through but not attaching”
“ ‘Now he would never write the things he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well,’ the writer in ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ thought as he lay dying of gangrene in Africa.

Reading the riveting and essential Cory Doctorow’s Attack Surface. The whole issue of moral compliance, complicity and compartmentalization, with Masha the expert in same. How to use one’s talents throughout life? “we weren’t trying to use technology to open up a space to change the system… to organize political change.” Afterword by Ron Deibert, Citizen Lab at U. of T.

Don Domanski, Bite down little whisper

As I write about Don Domanski’s Bite down little whisper I dream Don as tufted lynx! What a loss to the poetry community. But we have his words:
“Quietude is called returning to life Lao Tze says
…chocolate irises
gleaming outward from their arterial darkness
with the unborn standing high up in the trees
like cemetery angels
one finger pointing to heaven  the other to earth”

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Kim Echlin, SPEAK, SILENCE

What a powerful, lucent book to read as Canada mourns our own shame. Mothers and daughters, intergenerational trauma. Kim, your words are inscribed in me.

Kim Echlin’s SPEAK, SILENCE is essential reading. Long ago, I coined a neologism, SIOLENCE to express exactly what this book delivers, in its title and its text. SPEAK, SILENCE should be hollered to the mountain tops. Written in Kim Echlin’s lucent prose, SPEAK, SILENCE rings as clear as a bell, tolling for thee. Mothers and daughters, intergenerational trauma expressed with eloquent clarity and compassion. Listen to these women and you too will be inscribed by their stories.

Quotes that inspired me

“I am interested in metaphor, that is where I get my fix of transcendence,” Anne Enright, The New York Review of Books, February 20, 2021

“What if the fantasies of our childhoods, mixed in with childhood’s grief, are the obscuring coil around our adult lives?” Madeleine Thien

“Mêtis was the Greek term for cunning, skillfulness, practical intelligence; and especially for trickery. It was what could make humans, at the most basic and down-to-earth level, equal to the gods. Mêtis might sound like just another concept. But really it was the opposite of everything we understand by concepts. It meant a particular quality of intense awareness that always manages to stay focused on the whole: on the lookout for hints, however subtle, for guidance in whatever form it happens to take, for signs of the route to follow however quickly they might appear or disappear.” Peter Kingsley, Reality

Everything you might need to know about writing fiction! “Artists talk a lot about inspiration, but perhaps they ought to talk more about filing.” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/04/hilary-mantel-wolf-hall-mantel-pieces

“To be a poet is to have a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge.” George Eliot, Middlemarch

“In one direction, we’d reached the border at which clairvoyants stand gazing into the future, and in the other we’d gone backward to the zone where the present turns ghostly with memory and yet resists quite becoming the past.” Stuart Dybek, “Paper Lantern” #sundaysentence

“I have heard articulate speech produced by sunlight! I have heard a ray of the sun laugh and cough and sing!… I have been able to hear a shadow, and I have even perceived by ear the passage of the cloud across the sun’s disk!” Alexander Graham Bell #sundaysentence

“A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”
Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle #sundaysentence

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” Antonio Gramsci #sundaysentence

“Does one become a visionary or, rather, is it not that one has been blind until then?” Alexandra David-Néel, Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1929) #sundaysentence

All of a sudden he has that sensation he kept getting…an intense awareness of the spread of the dark countryside all around his house; a sense of being surrounded by a vast invisible web, where one wrong touch could shake things so far distant he hasn’t even spotted them.” Tana French, The Searcher #sundaysentence

“Leaves learn to fly at the end of their life.” Rilke

“I have a close relationship with silence, with things withheld, things known and not said.” Colm Toibin

A Poem For Human Rights

For years on International Human Rights Day, December 10th, we celebrated peace with my little “poem for peace in many voices” in 136 translations, which Gavin produced as a book/cd combo for Pendas.
The cd is still available from me.

Photo: Angelo Bucciarelli

“Penn Kemp’s richly evocative poem has been translated into 126 languages and dialects so far. I have participated in the readings in Italian, Latin and Pig Latin and have noticed how Penn involves new arrivals and immigrants and how they love to participate and feel part of something so multicultural and thus, essentially Canadian. Kemp’s goal is to spread the message for peace worldwide and to involve as many languages and dialects in her promotion of peace as she can. Poem for Peace is truly a global effort and an appealing and significant act of diplomacy in the best sense of the word.” Katerina Fretwell

You can see Rachel Thompson’s glorious video for the poem, with a reading by many translators at Elsie Perrin William estate in London ON: https://vimeo.com/148164038

Vera reading her translation of the poem into Elvish!

See also https://lcpnationalpoetrymonth2008.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/london-ontario/
https://www.cookedandeaten.com/authors/penn/pennintro.html
http://www.danielkolos.ca/Londonlaunch.htm

Photo: Angelo Bucciarell

Cornelia Hoogland & Penn Kemp: In Conversation @wordsfest.ca

Delighted to be back with WordsFest London Canada on Nov. 14!

I hope you can join us in this Conversation and the other events offered for free at http://wordsfest.ca/!

A foray back into the literary world after quite the hiatus:

In partnership with Antler River Poetry (formerly Poetry London), The Words Festival is very pleased to present Cornelia Hoogland & Penn Kemp!

Sunday, 14 November 2021, 1:00-2:30 ET PM

Zoom Registration: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/…/WN_DjcJK4…
Facebook: https://fb.me/e/N7Hp4Ol7

Join us as we welcome two prominent voices of poetry in London — Cornelia Hoogland, founder of Poetry London (now Antler River Poetry), and Penn Kemp, inaugural Poet Laureate of London — as they read from their new books of poetry.

Cosmic Bowling is a collaborative work of Ted Goodden’s ceramic sculptures and Cornelia Hoogland’s poems. Specifically, they are responding through image and text to the 64 hexagrams contained in the ancient book of wisdom, the I Ching, or Book of Changes. Cosmic Bowling’s calm weather lands in the midst of twitter storms in which everybody wants to start a conversation. Here’s a conversation — facilitated through visual art and poetry — that’s been going on for three millennia, one that asks the perennial question: How should we live now?

Penn Kemp’s A New Memoir: New Poems explores the earliest stirrings of the creative imagination in childhood and the joys of associative thinking. With narrative skill and vivid sensual detail, it discovers and uncovers the effect of adult perspectives on a young mind, the puzzling life lessons of parents and teachers, the wisdom and heartbreak of nature. Ironic and lyrical, accurate and ambiguous, playful and profound, these finely tuned poems–whether enlightened moments or deep dives into an evolving self–flow with the ease and excitement that only a seasoned artist can bring. A book full of surprises and affirmation.

Biographies:

Cornelia Hoogland’s Cosmic Bowling (Guernica, 2020) is a collaboration with the visual artist Ted Goodden. Trailer Park Elegy and Woods Wolf Girl were finalists for national awards. Two recent short-list nods from the CBC Literary Prizes include Sea Level (nonfiction), published with Baseline Press in 2013 as poetry. Hoogland was the 2019 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame and the Whistler Festival. With Ted Goodden she produces the podcast series Not Bowling Alone: Making Art on Hornby Island. She lives and writes on unceded Puntledge and K’omox territories on Hornby Island in the Salish Sea.

Penn Kemp has participated in Canadian cultural life for 50 years, writing, editing, and publishing poetry and plays. Her first book of poetry, “Bearing Down”, was published by Coach House, 1972. She has published more than 30 books of poetry, prose and drama, 7 plays and 10 CDs. The League of Canadian Poets acclaimed Penn as 2015 Spoken Word Artist. She is the League’s 40th Life Member. From 2010-2013, this prolific writer was London Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate. At Western University, Penn was writer-in-residence, 2009-2010. In 2020, she was presented with the inaugural Joe Rosenblatt (Muttsy) Award for Innovative Creators. Penn will be reading from A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS (Beliveau Books). The chapbook is available from beliveaubooks@gmail.com or, signed, from me, pennkemp@gmail.com.  www.pennkemp.weebly.com

This event is brought to you by Words and Antler River Poetry (formerly Poetry London).

Celebrating Gavin Stairs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gavin-by-robert-hogg-2.jpg

Our beloved Gavin died on Thursday, September 16, peacefully at home, as he wished. Gavin was cremated on September 22. The process was complete at 3:21 pm EDT, the exact moment of the Fall Equinox. This time of Balance is propitious. Because of COVID restrictions, a gathering on October 17 to celebrate him is limited to 25 people, family only. We will celebrate him full-on with friends in the Spring.

Gavin’s huge spirit touched the lives of so many. We will be holding a celebration of his life at the home which we shared for the last twenty years around the time of his birthday in late April.

SO grateful for all your support, however it manifests, through these changes.

Love abounding,

Penn

Tributes to Gavin abound on his Facebook page and mine. So many kind comments and consoling blessings. Thank you! Here are some:

My son, Jake Chalmers writes: “Gavin Stairs, my mother’s gentlest protector, husband and spiritual companion moved on peacefully. Penn and Gavins love for each other for the last quarter century has been thorough and constant. They cherish each other, and we are so thankful for him and his dedications.”

My daughter, Amanda Chalmers, writes: “With a heavy heart, I am sharing the news of my mom’s life partner, Gavin Stairs, passing. He died on Thursday, September 16, peacefully at home. For those who knew Gavin, you will remember him as a gentle giant with a twinkle in his eye. Gavin was an extraordinarily wise, deeply spiritual, and thoughtful person whose calm, kind spirit created a ripple effect around him. He was devoted to my mom and her work and had a loving, playful side he shared with me and my kids. Gavin was cherished by Penn and our family and his presence will be deeply missed. We all wished we had more time with him.💖

Robert McMaster: “I am so sorry to hear of Gavin’s passing, not so much for him, I think his spirit was ready for the journey, but for you and all those that knew him. He was like the brother I never had, and one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. I felt honoured to be there with him…”. ❤️LOVE🙏BLESSINGS☮️TRANQUILITY and ☯️Balance in Life.”

Brenda McMorrow: “Gavin’s spirit lives on in my heart and mind. I have such deep and beautiful memories of times spent with him. I felt so connected with him and he will be surely missed in his physical form.” 

Glen Pearson: “I recall the wonderful talks the three of us had together at your lovely home. He was a person of keen insight and possessed a compassionate outlook. The thoughts of so many of us are with you.”

Lisa Maldonado: “Dearest Penn, my sincere condolences at this irreparable loss. I wish we had been able to spend more time with you both. Sending you much love.”

Jennifer Chesnut: “Gavin was a wonderful warlock from the world of light. He was wise, honest, gentle, witty… I’m so sorry for your loss.”

My fave photo of Gavin, meditating:

August 2021, several days before Gavin’s collapse

Baby, young man and elder: Gavin embraced Love embracing Love.

Gavin Stairs (1946-2021) was the publisher of Pendas Productions, a series of poetry chapbooks combined with CDs, based in London ON, from 2000-2014. Poets include Henry Beissel, Katerina Fretwell, Patricia Keeney, Penn Kemp, Daniel Kolos, Susan McMaster, Charles Mountford, and Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy. He collected and fastidiously published Poem for Peace in Many Voices, chapbooks and CDs, in 136 translations and two volumes. Collaborative works included Sound Operas with musicians like Bill Gilliam and Brenda McMorrow. Gavin designed and produced these gorgeous books, CDs and DVDs from his den in our basement. How his generous, expansive presence will be missed.

Thank you!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gavin-and-penn

It really does take a community! Thank you so much for all your kindness on many levels. Change is on the wing for us pilgrims on Canterbury Road. Mutability is afoot.

So many have donated their time, their moral, emotional, financial and spiritual support to help us in the transition. Not to mention food!


Look at what The London Free Press wrote in support of artists in these difficult times. https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/belanger-our-poet-laureates-financial-plight-and-a-call-to-help…

Dear friends set up this https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gavin-and-penn:

“Our beloved friends Penn and Gavin need our help. As many of you know there have been significant changes in Gavin’s health status.  He has had several strokes recently and has been hospitalized after a serious fall.

We are raising funds for home renovations to meet their current mobility and health needs and provide an environment that is safe and workable into the future.  This will include a major bedroom and bathroom renovation that will increase accessibility for Gavin.”

If you are able to contribute please consider donating to this GoFundMe campaign.

Gavin is not doing well; so far he is only able to consume a couple of hundred calories per day and a little water. But the threat of hospitalization has encouraged him to eat a little more: my chicken broth! We are hoping he can access the rehabilitation help he needs at Parkwood: he’s on the priority list.

We’re in this pickle for the long haul.

LOVE and so much gratitude from us,
Gavin and Penn

A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS

A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS from Beliveau Books is out!

Live! Launching A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS 

Sunday, September 5, 2021, 7:30-9:35pm. Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert St., Stratford ON. I’ll be reading as Featured Poet, https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows. 
Register: https://www.facebook.com/events/110970911119609/?ref=newsfeed

If you’d like a numbered copy signed to you, let me know, pennkemp@gmail.com. 
If you’d like a numbered copy, unsigned, please contact beliveaubooks@gmail.com.

The cost is $15, including postage. See https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books.

But on September 5th in Stratford, it’s $10!

Readings from A Near Memoir

​Thursday, May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series.​ Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski 
Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. https://www.facebook.com/events/169826411638195/?ti=ls

And Live!, Sunday, September 5, 2021, 7:30-9:35pm. Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert St., Stratford ON. I’ll be reading from A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS as Featured Poet, https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows.

Thanks to a CAIP grant from the London Arts Council for time to write these poems.

Press

“Diving into a new book of poems by Penn Kemp is like setting out on an adventure.” https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poet-penn-kemp-celebrates-growing-up-in-london-in-new-book-of-verse? with a video of my reading from the book,  a poem, “Choose to Challenge”, commissioned by Brescia for International Women’s Day this March 8: https://youtu.be/dNC2sbZGp3c. And https://lfpress.com/entertainment/books/new-books-by-london-area-authors-offer-variety-for-all-readers-tastes.

“A new book of poetry from prolific Southwestern Ontario writer and spoken word artist Penn Kemp”, https://stratfordbeaconherald.com/enttainment/books/latest-work-from-poet-penn-kemp-published-by-stratford-micropress-beliveau-books.

On Line

Read Richard-Yves Sitowski’s review in “SUSTAINING CONNECTIONS” on http://www.sageing.ca/sageing37.html, P. 25.

Three of the poems in the book are linked online.

A poem in the book, “Choose to Challenge”, was commissioned by Brescia University College to celebrate International Women’s Day! Read it here: https://brescia.uwo.ca/about/who_we_are/choose_to_challenge_poem.php
This poem was presented to the University at Brescia’s Dr. Hanycz Leadership Lecture on March 8, 2021. To see a video of me reading the poem, visit Brescia’s YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThguVNENewQ #.

The London Free Press featured it: https://youtu.be/dNC2sbZGp3c?list=PLfojJEPqDqrTBdAxGfpQaPao8m_ynhfuI&t=11.

With special thanks to Dennis Siren, visionary videographer, for his videopoem of a poem in the book, “Translation”, dedicated to my father, painter Jim Kemp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMqzgfLJtws&t=22s.

“There you are”, from A Near Memoir, is at 8:14 in my Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9mS75i.

Endorsements for A Near Memoir: new poems

The poems in this unusually substantial chapbook reflect with charming insight on key moments and memorable forks in the road in the poet’s early life, then move to more sombre reckonings with mortality, the traumas of war, and the trees and environs of her Souwesto region, and conclude with inspirational “challenges” to us all in facing our uncertain future. Stylistic aplomb is underpinned, throughout, by mindful perception, impassioned concern, and a visionary verve.   
— Allan Briesmaster, author of The Long Bond (Guernica Editions)

d the deep without. It draws from the innermost regions of subjective consciousness while opening to social engagement and planetary awareness. The title suggests a genre both personal and universal, exploring the double lineages of family and the larger polis, our civic communities. Here we meet various members of her family, including her father, the visual artist. Penn has transformed his legacy into spoken word and a poetics where sounds and silences converge: “I still wait with paper’s white space till / words arise, images in words, watching them come into form…” As we participate, we are whirled into places where perception sharpens, and we too are transformed.

Penn Kemp’s A Near Memoir carries the reader simultaneously to the deep within and the deep without. It draws from the innermost regions of subjective consciousness while opening to social engagement and planetary awareness. The title suggests a genre both personal and universal, exploring the double lineages of family and the larger polis, our civic communities. Here we meet various members of her family, including her father, the visual artist. Penn has transformed his legacy into spoken word and a poetics where sounds and silences converge: “I still wait with paper’s white space till / words arise, images in words, watching them come into form…” As we participate, we are whirled into places where perception sharpens, and we too are transformed.
—Susan McCaslin, author of Heart Work (Ekstasis Editions)

A Near Memoir collects a confluence of poems around Penn Kemp’s beloved subjects: art, nature, community, the divine feminine, and flowingness of life.
—Sharon Thesen, author of The Wig-Maker (New Star Books)

Penn Kemp’s A Near Memoir: new poems explores the earliest stirrings of the creative imagination in childhood and the joys of associative thinking. With narrative skill and vivid sensual detail, it discovers and uncovers the effect of adult perspectives on a young mind, the puzzling life lessons of parents and teachers, the wisdom and heartbreak of nature. Ironic and lyrical, accurate and ambiguous, playful and profound, these finely tuned poems—whether enlightened moments or deep dives into an evolving self—flow with the ease and excitement that only a seasoned artist can bring. A book full of surprises and affirmation.
—Patricia Keeney, author of Orpheus in Our World (NeoPoiesis Press)

“Diving into a new book of poems by @pennkemp is like setting out on an adventure. You never know what you’ll come across and @JoeBatLFPress says her newest offering, A Near Memoir: New Poems, is no different.”

Hey, Red! Great poems!!!! So sensuous and lyrical and sly. 
—Catherine Sheldrick Ross, author of The Pleasures of Reading (Libraries Unlimited)

Penn Kemp ‘s book is wonderful in her mastery of language and attention to detail. A gorgeous read. A really great gift!” —Jude Neale

Nice day in the Grove for a new read from a dear friend and mentor, the magical Penn Kemp — Nick Beauchesne

A near Memoir has arrived and it is a treasure. So beautifully produced. With your life writings personal and planetary. And with such touching story-telling visuals. —Patricia Keeney

April Poetry with Penn Kemp & Pals

National Poetry Month Virtual Readings

A Near Memoir: new poems (Beliveau Books) is launching on Earth Day, April 22!
Want a taste of my new work? Four poems from A Near Memoir (“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” & “You There”) appear in Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, out now on https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

National Poetry Month Readings

Sunday, April 18, 4pm EDT. Our group reading from the anthology, Voicing Suicide, is hosted by Josie di Sciascio-Andrews with Daniel G Scott, Editor. Spread the word and join us if you can. Here is the link: meet.google.com/pwz-yqew-fiu Contact: <voicingsuicide@gmail.com>.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM EDT. Join us for a party in virtual reality, featuring Kelly Kaur, Nancy R. Lange, Laurie MacFayden, Valerie Mason-John, Gregory Betts, Laurie Anne Fuhr, Jocko Benoit & Penn Kemp. #All you need is a computer ://bit.ly/31JadY6. Co-hosted by Kelly Kaur and Lyn Cadence. Sign up for the event on Eventbrite. https://bit.ly/31JadY6 #NPM2021, https://pic.twitter.com/okIfLuw93w.

Sunday, April 25, 2021, 1 PM EDT. National Poetry Month zoom and launch of Femmes de Parole/Women of their Word, edited by Nancy R Lange. The readers for Femmes de parole / Women of their word on the 25th will be Mireille Cliche (QC), Catherine Fortin (QC), Louise Bernice Halfe, Penn Kemp, Nancy R Lange(QC), Genevieve Letarte, (QC), Sharon Thesen and Sheri-D Wilson! Contact: rappelparolecreation@hotmail.com.

Happy National Poetry Month, NPM2021! These readings are sponsored by the League @CanadianPoets!

New Publications

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher, thesedayszine2020@gmail.com. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/HorsebrokePress?coupon=EIGHTNINETEN

“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” and “You There”. Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, Spring 2021. https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitudehttp://www.sageing.ca/sageing36.html, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6. http://www.wordsfest.ca/zine, March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books. Pre-order now. To be launched on April 22, Earth Day!

“What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, Spring 2021.

SPRING Events

Up now!

The Free Press has a marvellous article on line: https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-poet-penn-kemp-marks-womens-day-with-call-to-action. The video link to reading the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNC2sbZGp3c&t=6s.

“The Words Festival is very pleased to present two of Canada’s finest poets, Jane Munro & Penn Kemp! Our host for the afternoon was Phil Glennie”: http://wordsfest.ca/events/2020/jane-munro-penn-kemp-in-conversation. The recording is up on https://vimeo.com/498423922.

February 19, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun”. One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series. From FOX HAUNTS, P. 15 (Aeolus House) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5Dtvlc5rNE. https://poetscorner.ca/one-minute-poem/.

February, 2021. “We are gonna begin writing sometime when…” from “Re:Solution”. Performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix on  https://www.mixcloud.com/spoken_matter/sound-poetry-mix-tape/. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

February, 2021. “Heart to Art” from Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books) https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/valentine-poem.

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

April 18. NPM. Readings from “Voicing Suicide”, an anthology edited by Daniel G. Scott. Contact: <voicingsuicide@gmail.com>, organizer Josie Di Sciascio Andrews <j_andrews@sympatico.ca>

April, 2021. NPM Zoom and launch of Femmes de Parole/Women of their Word, edited by Nancy R Lange. Readings: Penn Kemp and Sharon Thesen. Contact: rappelparolecreation@hotmail.com.

May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series. Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski 
https://www.facebook.com/OSPoetLaureate2019to2021

September 5, 7:30-9:30pm, 2021. Feature, Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert Street, Stratford ON. Host: Andreas Gripp,
https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows. Contact beliveaubooks@gmail.com.

  1. “Becoming”: a poem of 80 words matched with Jim Kemp’s painting for 80mL Exhibition to celebrate Museum London’s 80th Birthday. http://museumlondon.ca/. Contact: 80museumlondon@gmail.com

New Publications

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, http://www.sageing.ca/sageing36.html, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6. http://www.wordsfest.ca/zine, March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books. Pre-order now.

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher, thesedayszine2020@gmail.com.

“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” and “You There”. Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, May, 2021. https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

“What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, Spring 2021.

“Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

“Weather Vane, Whether Vain, Whither and Thither” and “Black, White and Red All Over Town”,  An Avian Alphabet. Edited by Susan McCaslin, with woodcut prints by Edith Krause.​

“Dichte” and “Cancel Culture”, EVENT 50/2 (Fall 2021) or 50/3 (Winter 2021/22). http://www.eventmagazine.ca

Recent Events with Penn Kemp

March 8, 2021. 7 – 8:30 p.m. “CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE: Finding Common Ground Through Dialogue”,
Featuring keynote address by Waneek Horn-Miller. Celebrating International Women’s Day at the 2021 Hanycz Lecture/International Women’s Day event. 8:15 p.m. Penn’s reading, commissioned by Brescia University College, London, is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.  Register here for the whole event (https://hopin.com/events/choose-to-challenge-finding-common-ground-through-dialogue?bblinkid=248579307&bbemailid=28900794&bbejrid=1864748878. Contact: Linda, lpalme9@uwo.ca.

“Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix for https://www.mixcloud.com/. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

Up now! February, 2021. “Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix on  https://www.mixcloud.com/spoken_matter/sound-poetry-mix-tape/. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

February 26, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun” from Fox Haunts, One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series, https://poetscorner.ca/one-minute-poem/.

February 27, 2021.11:00am EST. “Craft Bites!” Live Zoom reading and discussion with Sarah Adams. Penn reads from The Triumph of Teresa Harris. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Moderator, Mindy Doherty Griffiths,  mindy@playwrightsguild.ca

February, 2021. “Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix for https://www.mixcloud.com/. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

February 26, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun” from Fox Haunts, One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series, https://poetscorner.ca/one-minute-poem/.

February 27, 2021.11:00am EST. “Craft Bites!” Live Zoom reading and discussion with Sarah Adams. Penn reads from The Triumph of Teresa Harris. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Moderator, Mindy Doherty Griffiths, mindy@playwrightsguild.ca​

March 8, 2021. 7 – 8:30 p.m. “CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE: Finding Common Ground Through Dialogue”,
Featuring keynote address by Waneek Horn-Miller. Celebrating International Women’s Day at the 2021 Hanycz Lecture/International Women’s Day event. 8:15 p.m. Penn’s reading, commissioned by Brescia University College, London, is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.  Register here for the whole event (https://hopin.com/events/choose-to-challenge-finding-common-ground-through-dialogue?bblinkid=248579307&bbemailid=28900794&bbejrid=1864748878. Contact: Linda, lpalme9@uwo.ca.

April, 2021. NPM Zoom and launch of Femmes de Parole/Women of their Word, edited by Nancy R Lange. Contact: rappelparolecreation@hotmail.com.

May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series. Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski 
https://www.facebook.com/OSPoetLaureate2019to2021

  1. “Becoming”: a poem of 80 words matched with Jim Kemp’s painting for 80mL Exhibition to celebrate Museum London’s 80th Birthday. http://museumlondon.ca/. Contact: 80museumlondon@gmail.com

Forthcoming Publications

 “To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. “To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, http://www.sageing.ca. Number 38, Spring 2021.

“What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, Spring 2021.

“Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

“Weather Vane, Whether Vain, Whither and Thither” and “Black, White and Red All Over Town”,  An Avian Alphabet. Edited by Susan McCaslin, with woodcut prints by Edith Krause.​

Forthcoming Publications

Spring 2021. “What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, spring 2021.

​Spring 2021. Interview, Bill Arnott’s Artist Showcase, https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/bills-artist-showcase/

Recently Published

“Tangled”, P. 124-5. “Snarl”, P. 150-1. Voicing Suicide. Daniel G. Scott, editor, voicingsuicide@gmail.com. Ecstasis Editions, 2020.

SAGE-ING: Wider and Deeper”,​P. 9-11.  
SAGE-INGwith Creative Spirit, Grace & Gratitude||The Journal of Creative Aging, Number 35, Winter 2021, http://www.sageing.ca/

“A Short History of Epiphany”, p. 38. https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/beliveau-review,&nbsp;https://2e8a8d6d-e97c-4235-92c8-7aa31bae0d77.filesusr.com/ugd/830f0d_846ba1cde5be4432a8eeccec45b5cfb5.pdf

May poetry see us through! 

My books are available from pennkemp@gmail.com) or from https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=Penn+Kemp&ref=nb_sb_noss

See https://pennkemp.weebly.com.

See https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/126379.Books_by_Penn_Kemp.

2020 Holiday Recommendations

Curling Up

with a Great Book!

Superb Canadian writing highly recommended, grouped idiosyncratically

First, by women

Pairing books by Indigenous Writers: Michelle Good, Five Little Indians; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost, Islands of Decolonial Love and Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies.

Pairing pandemic novels: Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars; Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World and Larissa Lai’s The Tiger Flu.

Pairing BC novelists: Shaena Lambert’s Petra Maria Reva; Good Citizens Need Not Fear; Caroline Adderson’s A Russian Sister and Anakana Schofield’s Bina.

Pairing books on relationship: Christy Ann Conlon’s Watermark; Annabel Lyon, Consent; Lynn Coady, Watching You Without Me; Shani Mootoo, Polar Vortex; Vivek Shraya, The Subtweet; Frances Itani, The Company We Keep.

Pairing Westerns: Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner; Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel; Helen Humphreys’s Rabbit Foot Bill and Kate Pullinger’s Forest Green.

Pairing fiction set abroad:  Aislinn Hunter’s The Certainties. Janie Chang’s The Library of Legends; Sarah Leipciger’s Coming Up For Air; Marianne Micros’s Eye; Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here; Lisa Robertson’s Baudelaire Fractals. Anne Simpson’s Speechless AND Farzana Doctor’s magnificent Seven.

Non-Fiction
Carol Bishop-Gwyn, Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt
Lorna Crozier, Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats)
Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
Theresa Kishkan, Euclid’s Orchard & Other Essays
Amanda Leduc, Disfigured
Susan McCaslin & J.S. Porter, Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine
Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer, Reading still matters: what the research reveals about reading, libraries, and community
Susan Vande Griek and Mark Hoffmann, Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel
Elizabeth Waterston, Railway Ties 1888-1920
Jody Wilson-Raybould, From where I stand: rebuilding Indigenous Nations for a stronger Canada

Awards
The Writers’ Trust Award goes to Gil Adamson for Ridgerunner!
The Giller goes to Souvankham Thammavongsa for How to Pronounce Knife
The Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize goes to Armand Garnet Ruffo

Reading Canadian men
Billy-Ray Belcourt, A history of my brief body
Dennis Bock, The Good German
Michael Christie, Greenwood: A Novel of a Family Tree in a Dying Forest
Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In
David Frum, Trumpocalypse
William Gibson, Agency
Rawi Hage, Beirut Hellfire Society
Thomas King, Indians on Vacation
Thomas King, Obsidian: A DreadfulWater Mystery
Kurt Palka, The hour of the fox: a novel
Andrew Pyper, The residence
Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Robin Robertson, The long take: a Noir Narrative
Jesse Thistle, From the Ashes
Clive Thompson, Coders
Richard Wagamese, Keeper’n Me

Back to Poetry, Canadian and Beyond
Madhur Anand, A new index for predicting catastrophes: poems
Margaret Atwood, Dearly
Adèle Barclay, Renaissance normcore
Gary Barwin, For it is a PLEASURE and a SURPRISE to Breathe: new & selected Poems
Heather Birrell, Float and scurry
Jericho Brown, The Tradition 
Lucas Crawford, The high line scavenger hunt
Amber Dawn, My Art is Killing Me
Dom Domanski, Bite down little whisper
Klara du Plessis, Ekke
Nathan Dueck, A very special episode / brought to you by Nathan Dueck
Chantal Gibson, How She Read
Julie Hartley, Deboning a dragon
Karen Houle, The Grand River Watershed: a folk ecology
Patricia Keeney, Orpheus in Our World
Kaie Kellough, Magnetic equator 
Canisia Lubrin, The Dyzgraph*st
Daphne Marlatt, Intertidal: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968 – 2008
Jane Munro, Glass Float
Harold Rhenisch, The Spoken World 
Robin Richardson, Knife throwing through self-hypnosis: poems
Anne Simpson, Strange attractor: poems
John Elizabeth Stintzi, Junebat
Moez Surani, Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real?

See more recommendations on https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/31booksinaugust/ , https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/reading-and-recommending-poems-for-national-poetry-month-2020/ and https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/on-reading-new-work-by-canadian-women-novelists/On reading new work by Canadian women novelists.

Anthologies
Best Canadian poetry 2019   
Measures of astonishment: poets on poetry / presented by the League of Canadian Poets
Caroline Adderson, editor. The Journey prize stories: the best of Canada’s new writers
Nyla Matuk, editor. Resisting Canada: an anthology of poetry
Adam Sol, How a poem moves: a field guide for readers of poetry

Beloved Books on Spiritual Ecology
Tim Dee, Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest
Robert Macfarlane, Underland
Richard Powers, The Overstory
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life

Deepest, Longest and most Transformative Read of 2020
Peter Kingsley, Reality, Catafalque Press, 2020
(and Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom)

International Reads
John Banville, Snow
Neil Gaiman, American Gods: The moment of the storm. 3
Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings
Lily King, Writers and Lovers
Natsuo Kirino, The goddess chronicle
E. J Koh, The magical language of others: A memoir
Raven Leilani, Luster
Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights
William Maxwell, So long, see you tomorrow
Ian McEwan, Machines like me: and people like you
Ian McEwan, Cockroach
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: the revolution
David Mitchell, Utopia
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
Naomi Shihab Nye, Cast away: poems for our time
Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet and Judith
Tommy Pico, Feed
Samantha Power, The Education of an Idealist
Omid Safi, Radical love: teachings from the Islamic mystical tradition
Jake Skeets, Eyes bottle dark with a mouthful of flowers / poems by Jake Skeets
Mirabai Starr, Wild mercy: living the fierce and tender wisdom of the women mystics
Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive
Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough
Ruth Ware, The Turn of the Key
Jennifer Weiner, Big Summer
Niall Williams, This is Happiness
Bob Woodward, Rage

About to read (sometime, soon-ish)
Madhur Anand, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart
Marianne Apostolides, I can’t get you out of my mind: a novel
Nina Berkhout, Why Birds Sing
Carol Bruneau, Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Maud Lewis
Cathy Marie Buchanan, Daughter of Black Lake
Catherine Bush, Blaze Island
Louise Carson, The Cat Possessed
Dede Crane, Madder Woman
Lorna Crozier, The House the Spirit Builds
Francesca Ekwuyasi, Butter Honey Pig Bread
Heather Haley, Skookum Raven
Catherine Hernandez, Crosshairs
Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society
Shari Lapena, The End of Her
Jessica J. Lee, Two trees make a forest: travels among Taiwan’s mountains & coasts in search of my family’s past
Tanis MacDonald, Mobile
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic
Noor Naga, Washes, Prays
C.L. Polk, The Midnight Bargain
Damian Rogers, An Alphabet for Joanna: A Portrait of My Mother in 26 Fragments
Johanna Skibsrud, Island
Susan Swan, The Dead Celebrities Club
Emily Urquhart, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me
Natalie Zina Walschots, Hench: a novel

AND…
Jordan Abel, Nishga
André Alexis, The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction
Bill Arnott, Gone Viking
John Barton, Lost Family 
David Bergen, Here the Dark
Wade Davis, Magdalena: river of dreams 
Cory Doctorow, Radicalized
Cory Doctorow, Attack Surface
Gary Geddes, Out of the ordinary: politics, poetry and narrative
Steven Heighton, Reaching Mithymna: among the volunteers and refugees on Lesvos
Kaie Kellough, Dominoes at the Crossroads
David A. Robertson, Black Water
Mark Sampson, All the Animals on Earth
J.R. (Tim) Struthers (Editor), Alice Munro Everlasting: Essays on Her Works II
Mark Truscott, Branches
Ian Williams, Reproduction

Most of these books have come to me through London Public Library, now celebrating 125 years! Thank you!
Others came from Indie bookstores and friends. None from Amazon.

Check out my own books on http://pennkemp.weebly.com/works.html.

Read on ! Read often:)

Sounds of Trance Formation


Sounds of Trance Formation:

An Interview with Penn Kemp now up!

https://spokenweb.ca/podcast/episodes/sounds-of-trance-formation-an-interview-with-penn-kemp/

with Nick Beauchesne, Spoken Web Canada

December 7, 5-7 pm

“For Penn Kemp, poetry is magic made manifest. While her subjects are varied, and her interests and approaches have evolved over the years, Kemp has always understood the power of spoken word to evoke emotion, shift consciousness, and shape the world. Drawing on a syncretic blend of spiritual philosophy informed by Alchemy, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other wisdom traditions, Kemp’s work is imminent and transcendent, embodied and cerebral. The words on the page produce certain effects, while the voices in the air produce others altogether.”

New #SpokenWebPod episode coming next Monday, Dec 7.
Come to our Listening Party to experience
“Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp.”

Monday, December 7, 2020 at 5 PM EST – 7 PM EST
Hosted by SpokenWeb

Join us to listen and discuss #SpokenWebPod episode
Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp

We will gather virtually to listen together at 5pm ET and share our reactions in a Twitter conversation. This will be followed by a 6pm ET Q&A with Episode Producer Nick Beauchesne and featured guest Penn Kemp. You are invited to join for the entire event or at 6pm ET for just the Q&A.

Listening Party Zoom Link:
https://sfu.zoom.us/j/83778515727…Meeting ID: 837 7851 5727
Password: resonate
One tap mobile
+16473744685,,83778515727#,,,,0#,,71824394# Canada

https://www.facebook.com/events/752942868631837/

Join the Twitter Conversation:
You are invited to follow @SpokenWebCanada and #SpokenWebPod on Twitter and join the conversation during the event as we listen together. Tweet at us with #SpokenWebPod and share your listening experience: what moments jump out to you? what sounds resonate with your experience?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpokenWebCanada at https://spokenweb.ca/podcast/episodes.

On reading new work by Canadian women writers

And the Giller goes to Souvankham Thammavongsa for How to Pronounce Knife! Congratulations! And Congratulations as well to the other finalists!

Superb writing that I highly recommend, grouped here idiosyncratically.

Pairing Westerns: Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner; Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel; Helen Humphreys’s Rabbit Foot Bill and Kate Pullinger’s Forest Green.

Pairing work set abroad: Shaena Lambert’s Petra; Janie Chang’s The Library of Legends; Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here. Lisa Robertson, Baudelaire Fractals. Pairing Caroline Adderson’s A Russian Sister and Sarah Leipciger, Coming Up For Air. AND Farzana Doctor’s Seven.

Pairing pandemic novels: Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars; Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World and Larissa Lai’s The Tiger Flu.

Pairing books on relationship by Annabel Lyon, Consent; Lynn Coady, Watching You Without Me; Shani Mootoo, Polar Vortex;  Frances Itani, The Company We Keep.

Pairing books by Indigenous Writers: Michelle Good, Five Little Indians; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost

Memoir: Lorna Crozier, Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats)

Sans pareil: Naomi Klein, On Fire. Not a novel: I wish it were!

About to read (sometime, soon-ish):

Marianne Apostolides, I can’t get you out of my mind: a novel
Carol Bruneau, Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Maud Lewis
Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still
Cathy Marie Buchanan, Daughter of Black Lake
Catherine Bush, Blaze Island
Catherine Hernandez, Crosshairs
Maria Reva, Good Citizens Need Not Fear 
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies
Elizabeth Waterston,  Railway Ties 1888-1920

Hoping to read:
(Attention, London Library! Every other book listed here is in your collection. Please take the hint…)
Dede Crane, Madder Woman
Lorna Crozier, The House the Spirit Builds

Celebrating Wordsfest, tuning in to MORE Literary Arts!


Then back to new poetry. And back to writing…

Feature image: Daniela Sneppova
Photo of me age 7: Jim Kemp

#31BooksInAugust

A challenge indeed, to read a poetry book a day throughout August!

It’s only now in preparing this list that I’ll see if I reached 31 books. Included here are several anthologies of poetry and the very poetic novel, Baudelaire’s Fractal. I’ve also read books that I had started earlier, a couple that I reread, and several that I have not yet finished! Some I’d been meaning to read forever. There’s always #SealeySeptember!

How to group the list? Some are from my own collection; some, gifts from friends. Many others arrived from the Library. The books came in clusters: Canadian; writers of colour, feminist, contemporary. I decided to go alphabetically. I didn’t have time to include comments or quotes, though a running commentary is ongoing in my head. Pals, if I haven’t included you here, are you in my blog for National Poetry Month? Check out https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/reading-and-recommending-poems-for-national-poetry-month-2020/.

Here’s the list:

  1. bill bissett, Air 10-11-12
  2. Billy-Ray Belcourt: NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field
  3. Di Brandt, Glitter & Fall
  4. Ariane Blackman, The River Doesn’t Stop
  5. Allan Briesmaster, River Neither
  6. Jillian Christmas, the gospel of breaking
  7. Margaret Christakos, charger
  8. Tom Cull, Bad Animals
  9. Ellen Jaffe, Skinny-Dipping with the Muse
  10. Patricia Keeney, First Woman
  11. John B. Lee, The Half-Way Tree
  12. D.A. Lockhart, Devil in the Woods
  13. Alice Major, Welcome to the Anthropocene
  14. Daphne Marlatt,  Seven Glass Bowls
  15. Susan McCaslin, Painter, Poet, Mountain: After Cézanne
  16. Susan McMaster, Haunt
  17. Bruce Meyer, McLuhan’s Canary
  18. Stephen Morrissey, A Poet’s Journey: on poetry and what it means to be a poet
  19. Colin Morton, Coastlines of the Archipelago
  20. Miguel Neneve, En los Caminos de la Miradas
  21. Catherine Owen, Riven
  22. Harold Rhenisch, Winging Home: a palette of birds
  23. Canisia Lubrin, The Dyzgraph*st
  24. Jay MillAr, The Ghosts of Jay MillAr
  25. Joni Mitchell, Morning Glory On the Vine
  26. Lisa Robertson, Baudelaire Fractals
  27. Sharon Thesen, The Receiver
  28. Phyllis Webb, Peacock Blue

Anthologies
29. Kim Maltman, editor. The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2018
30. Nyla Matuk, Resisting Canada: an anthology of poetry with an Introduction by Nyla Matuk
31. Adam Sol, How a poem moves: a field guide for readers of poetry

Thanks for such an inspiring initiative, Nicole Sealey! @Nic_Sealey

#31outof31 #TheSealeyChallenge #sealeychallenge #poetry #31Books31Days #31BooksInAugust

WHEW~! See you in September!

Penn Kemp
http://www.pennkemp.weebly.com

A panacea of poems in the pandemic

I’m so grateful to Joe Belanger and the Free Press for supporting the arts and local artists.
Poetry really can console and articulate our emotions in the pandemonium of pandemic. But imagine, a local newspaper publishing new poems!  and these three of mine are so beautifully laid out with room for the poems to breathe! But, hey, embrace me from 6 feet away, okay? 🙂

BELANGER: It’s time to embrace London’s poet laureate, Penn Kemp, and all artists

It’s funny the things you think of when the going gets tough.

London poet Penn Kemp explores the pandemic in her writing as the country has a muted celebration of Poetry Month. JOE BELANGER

It’s funny the things you think of when the going gets tough.

Like everyone else in recent weeks, I could feel the sun’s warmth, see the green tips coming through the garden soil and welcome the crocuses.

It’s spring arriving, yet there wasn’t a big smile on my face; no, just the tension of uncertainty and foreboding that goes hand-in-hand with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then I heard Penn Kemp’s voice on the telephone and a smile arrived.

I can’t help it. London’s first poet laureate and one of this country’s great writing talents always offers up some delightful word treats that usually provoke a smile, sometimes laughter and even tears that eventually give way to serious pondering of the words, ideas and observations she so expertly writes on paper.

I should have anticipated the phone call because April is poetry month and, more often than not, a chance for me to reconnect with Kemp, who has written more than 30 books of poetry and drama and is renowned as a spoken word performer.

Penn Kemp is a perpetual reminder to me of why we need our artists and I couldn’t wait to find out how she’s been keeping, but even more excited to find out what she’s doing.

“Life as usual for a writer, I’m at home,” said Kemp, for whom a degree of isolation is a natural consequence of her art.

“But we feel it all so deeply. The irony and the consolation or disparity in it all is spring’s arrival – the return of warmth against the depths of sadness and sorrow of so many people passing. There’s so much information coming at us, we’re inundated with so much grief. For me, poetry can console.”

And then I read her new words, in her new poem titled, What We Remember, words this horror has provoked that grabbed my heart and told me I am not alone. The opening stanza drawing tears . . .

So many are leaving the planet and yet

are with us, still and still.

How they hover,

the lost, the bewildered, the wild ones!

Clearly life during a pandemic hasn’t escaped Kemp’s gaze or understanding; it has provoked her muse to sing.

There are two more poems, each with compelling observations, perhaps even provocations. It is what Kemp must do, even though she won’t get paid this month when she is often on tour to celebrate her art. It is why I feel so compelled to write about our artists.

“I so believe in the power of community yet everything we relied upon has shifted — to ‘host’ has become a negative and even ‘positive’ (test) has become a negative,” said Kemp.

“What the arts really does is offer a vehicle for the expression of emotion, whether we’re creating or we’re a recipient, you can share in the collective expression of sorrow and suffering and sense that we are together, that humanity is facing this together.”

And I smile again because I don’t feel so alone.

I’m feeling hopeful again because the power of the arts continues to churn, inspiring and, yes, comforting.

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress


The Big Ask

In times of crises we count on the arts for respite,
relief, relaxation and articulation of our response
and reaction to a compounded new normal. As if

unknowns have not always been nearby, hovering
at edge of sight, beyond reach but closing in now,
still unknown. All our questions rise without reply.

How long.

The difference is now we know for once what we
did not know, can’t know, don’t want to face, hid
under cover. But special masks hand-sewn as if to

protect let us feel we are doing our bit, let us act in
dispelling disconnect, overwhelm of circumstance.
Art helps us stitch together disparity or discontent.

This poem will not reveal statistics, won’t describe
missing medical gear, what remains undelivered,
how many gravesites prepared, how much suffering—

how many gone. We have aps for that, as numbers
grow beyond belief but not beyond hope nor help.

Frontline workers, be praised. May all you need be
yours now. May salaries be raised. May you rest
till the rest is easy. May your harvest be in health

not death, not calculated statistics of raised risk.
Do care for yourselves just as you care for others.

We wait, sequestered, connected, isolated, missing
touch, missing what we used to call normal, what
we used to do long ago just last month. We wait for

the weight to lift, to remember we are safe at home,
not stuck. We also serve who stay indoors and wait.

May home be our haven. May we shelter in place,
in peace of mind. Confinement’s just fine for now,
home stead, home stayed and schooled in the new.

Mind the gap, the gulf between then and now as
broadcasts sweep over: they are not forever. Turn
off the hourly news. Tune in to spring joys instead.

We can gather in the power of dandelion greens.
Warmer weather is not another postponed elective.

Even though last night, lightning and hail the size
of loonies lit up the sky at the pink full moon, no
frogs are raining and forsythia has not forsaken us.

Toads are peeping, myrtle is purpling and the sun,
sweet sun, is warming our faces as forget-me-nots
pop their determined way up through damp earth.

What is essential, what urgent when baselines shift?
Spontaneous dance parties and web performance
lighten fatigue, the philosopher’s moral dilemma.

The consolation of poetry is the resilience of words
given to comfort or challenge, compare and contrast.

What is grief but love unexpressed? What is love but
expression? Giving, not in, not out, but forth, giving
over to you. The game’s a match. Love won. Love all.

Penn Kemp
April 8, 2020

What We’ll Remember

How first scylla sky shimmers
against the tundra swan’s flight
west and north, north north west.

How many are leaving the planet and yet
are with us, still and still forever.

How they linger,
the lost, the bewildered, the wild ones!

Though tears come easily these days,
we too hover over the greening land

as spring springs brighter than ever
since stacks are stilled and the pipe
lines piping down.

When the peace pipe is lit
and sweetgrass replaces
smog— when the fog of pollution
lifts and channels clear—

Earth take a long breath
and stretches over aeons to come
and aeons past.

Penn Kemp

No Reruns, No Returns

for les revenants

Those who died once from influenza
a century ago, who now are pulled to

a hell realm of eternal return—are you
repeating, reliving the hex of time as if

doomed to replicate the old story you
already lived through? Once is enough.

No need to hover. You have suffered
plenty. You’ve loved and lost all there

is to lose. You have won. You’re one
with all that is. Retreat now to your own

abode. Return home, spirits. You’re no
longer needed here. You are no longer.

Although we honour you and thank
you and remember you each and all,

all those who’ve been called back, called
up from dimensions we can only guess at—

caught in the Great War and carried away
or carried off in the aftermath of influenza—

by this spell, we tell you to go back to
your own time, out of time. Just in time.

May you depart. We don’t know, how can
we tell? where your home is. It’s not here.

Know this virus is not yours. Know this
war is not yours. You are here in our era

by error, by slippage, a rip. You’ve mis-
taken the signage, the spelling in wrong

turns. Now return, by this charm, retreat.
You are dispelled, dismissed, dismantled,

released to soar free from the trance of time.
May you travel well. May you fly free.

Penn Kemp

The poems have been slightly revised.

Poems & Plays for Sale, by the Book-full!

Books are the best gift for a time of self-isolation!  A shout-out to Canadian small press publishers and indie bookshops.  Long may you thrive! Your health all round!

Here are my recent offerings for your wish list, to share with poetry- and play-loving pals.

If you order the books from me, I’ll sign them for you!

Penn Kemp
525 Canterbury Road
London Ontario N6G 2N5
pennkemp@gmail.com

Or order from Amazon*. Details below.

From Insomniac Press*, $2O + tax + postage:

River Revery front back cover

Celebrating local writers! https://lfpress.com/entertainment/books/new-books-by-london-and-area-authors-just-in-time-for-christmas

Local Heroes cover good

From Quattro Books*, $2O + tax + postage:

FoxHaunts-Cover

barbaric-cultural-practice_front-cover

Also, prose to celebrate Jack Layton: Love, Hope and Optimism, Ongoing!*

960121_10151616103230020_1383103619_n

Travel to Ancient Egypt with me for $6 + tax +postage!

Helwa cover

Or this fabulous hand-made chapbook from Mother Tongue Books for $50 + tax +postage!

Suite Ancient Egypt

If you love plays and local history, two of my plays about Victorian explorer Teresa Harris are available: https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-dream-life-of-teresa-harris and https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-triumph-of-teresa-harris.

And this anthology,  available only from me. $20 in this format.  But for $12, without the colour, order from https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/performing-women.

performing-women-2016

* Find my books on https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=Penn+Kemp&ref=nb_sb_noss.

You can also find them in your Library, I hope. Certainly London Public Library has them all, plus CDs and DVDS.

Blessings for a Joyous Holiday! 

Penn
http://www.pennkemp.weebly.com

Listening to the River

“London poet Penn Kemp helps explore identity at Wordsfest”

The Thames River moves swiftly through London’s Kilally Meadows, a turn in the river at the end of Windermere Road that is eating away at the bank, carving a new history in its journey.

It’s here on the Thames, two kilometres from her childhood home that poet, spoken word performer and playwright Penn Kemp has found inspiration that culminated in River Revery, her 31st book of poetry and drama.

It will be launched Saturday at the sixth annual Words, London’s literary and creative arts festival, also known as Wordsfest, being held at Museum London Friday through Sunday.

Wordsfest will feature 40 Canadian authors, poets, writers, songwriters and other literary stars. It’s a “celebration of creative ideas, artistic expression and cultural diversity,”  where the concept of identity will be the theme.

“The Thames River is the very centre of London – look at the forks downtown – the very heart of the city, the flow, the current and the influence,” said Kemp, sitting under a sunny sky days ago a few metres from the river.

In Kemp’s new book is the poem Riparian, inspired by the place where we had just been walking and this excerpt reflects our view:

Woodcocks drum in May at Kilally Meadows as
mallard mothers introduce their pride to water.

Cattails sieve sediment in the marsh. Let alone.
Carrying on. There a dead ash stands undercut by
spring current sweeping without resistance among
dangled roots. On topmost branch, the local osprey,
intent on a shoal of suckers suspended in shadow,

catches sunlight, breast gleaming, before plummeting
with curved claws to pluck family breakfast.”

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Kemp will be in conversation with Diana Beresford-Kroeger, an author, medical biochemist and botanist who wrote the forward for River Revery.

Beresford-Kroeger is the author of several books, including To Speak for the Trees, released in September. She was named a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2011 and named by the society as one of 25 women explorers of Canada.

The Thames, its tributaries and the land it flows through is the land of Kemp’s childhood, where she wondered and dreamed and played and ran and walked and rode a bike.

The river meanders through her work, including her plays about Teresa Harris, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris (2013) and The Triumph of Teresa Harris (2017).

Harris was born in 1839, youngest of the 12 children of Royal Navy Capt. John Harris, one of the city’s earliest settlers and builder of Eldon House. The house was owned by the family until 1960 when it was donated to the city as a museum, while much of its property along the Thames became Harris Park.

Teresa, an independent minded adventurer, inspires not only Kemp’s work but also her heart.

River Revery, dedicated to Kemp’s grandchildren, is not just a book of poems; it’s a collaboration with London artist Mary McDonald, who provided photos and animations to support Kemp’s words. The website riverrevery.ca includes the full breadth of the work, which was first revealed at last year’s Wordsfest.

Kemp is also a wealth of knowledge about the Thames. She tells me the Thames is called Deshkan Ziibi (Antler River) in the Ojibwe language, but it was named by Lt.-Gov. John Graves Simcoe after its British namesake – a name itself rooted in the ancient Celtic language and meaning the Dark One.

“I really think we need to return to listening to what the river and the land are telling us,” said Kemp, a lifelong environmentalist and activist.

“Ever since I was a tiny child, I’ve tried to articulate the mystery not expressed in words – the river, trees, the birds – . . . and I’m still trying to translate the mystery. I believe if I’m listening I can hear one maple.”

Kemp gets irritated with anthropomorphism of nature by people making it appear and behave as a human being even though the rivers, trees, animals and land are distinct entities.

“The land is not limited to our sensibilities or understanding and comprehension,” said Kemp.

“That’s where the listening comes in . . . We’ve been trained to project, transfer our humanness values to nature and the truth is nature is so much longer lived. It has its own life. It breathes so much longer than we do. We have to get back to honouring the land as the Indigenous People did before colonialism.”

Kemp said the Thames is more than a “metaphor” of the identity of London. “It’s the reality of our identity, staring us in the face, asking for recognition, to be honoured and valued, not just to be used,” she said.

Wordsfest artistic director Joshua Lambier said the festival’s theme of identity is about “re-imagining Souwesto” referring to name coined by the late London artist Greg Curnoe for Southwestern Ontario.

Lambier said identity will be explored from a variety of angles, including the “notion of the Forest City,” which Kemp and Beresford-Kroeger will explore, and the relationship between “creativity and identity,” which a panel hosted by award-winning author Nino Ricci, the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity at Western University, will discuss Saturday at 4 p.m.

“The great thing about Wordsfest is the diversity of the content, so there should be something for everyone,” said Lambier.

“We try to bring the Western University campus downtown to the people of London who want to meet and see national authors, but also our local writers who will all be discussing new ideas, new books, new artistic approaches.”

Joe Belanger, The London Free Press, October 31, 2019

GOING WITH THE FLOW: Kemp a natural at Wordsfest C1

London poet helps explore identity at sixth-annual Wordsfest

Penn102019 Belanger

Photo: Joe Belanger

Believe…

In the space of a year she has learned to sit,
to stand, to walk, to totter forward in a run.

She has seen one full round of the seasons.
She wraps her family round her little finger.

Now just before dusk we stroll hand in hand
to witness the evening ritual of geese return.

Gliding along the Thames in formation, they
skim overhead, flapping slow time in synch.

She studies their procedure, dropping my hand
to edge forward, neck outstretched, arms aero-

dynamically angled. She flaps and flaps along
the bank, following their flight, ready for that

sudden lift. Again, again, till the last goose has
flown. Dragging her heels home, disconcerted,

she braces her body against the rising breeze,
bewildered that she too can’t take off to sky

but game to try again tomorrow, convinced
the birds’ secret will soon belong to her.

believe 2018 Mary McDonald

 

New videopoems!

What a joy to collaborate with Gary Barwin, Bill Gilliam, and, forthcoming, Dennis Siren!

The videopoem, “The Female Line”. Heavy Feather,  https://youtube.com/watch?v=p9-gmOaY1P0… with Gary Barwin and my text/voice.

The videopoem, “Becoming”, is up on https://youtu.be/z5INYt3Y4Xk. “Becoming”, my poem matched with Jim Kemp’s painting for 80mL Exhibition to celebrate Museum London’s 80th Birthday. “Becoming”, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kj2VJRG1s9AB5BwrMtls0sOBa7sNWCaf/view?ts=60ff873a. The image is on http://80ml.museumlondon.ca/exhibition/untitled-kemp/.&nbsp; See https://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic-journal/becoming-by-penn-kemp for both poem and image “Becoming” originated in my poem written in response to my father’s painting followed by Bill’s music and imagery: truly very meta art about art about art. 

“Night Orchestra” is a videopoem written and performed by sound poet Penn Kemp with music and sound design by composer Bill Gilliam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98OEWklDcYY. The visual editing is by Gera Dillon using stock footage by No Copyright Videos and other sources. Title background image by Jim Kemp.

And earlier:

“Translation”, a videopoem with Dennis Siren, 2019:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMqzgfLJtws&t=22s

“Among the Parasols”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, q.r. code in RIVER REVERYhttps://youtu.be/uomD6YEVkLo

“Heart P’Art”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, https://youtu.be/tqnwecUmSHI

“Between Between”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm#sent?projector=1

April 2018. Launch of Local Heroes: video by Dennis Siren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-zCVUjonwk

Video by Dennis Siren: Couplets#15: November 2017, London. Featuring Penn Kemp & Marta Croll-Baehre. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKiUCHy_Hjs&feature=youtu.be

PennandDenn Collection #1, 2016: Five Eerie Pieces
“On the Other Hand of Time”
“From Dream Sequins”
“Heart P’Arts”
“Between Between”
“For Me It Was Foxes”

“In the Words of Penn Kemp”, 2012

Dennis Siren’s Arts Doc Compilation. Penn: 20.46-26.25, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDa2HF6YDAM

Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera performed at Aeolian Hall in 2009 with Anne AnglinRuth DouthwrightBrenda McMorrowRobert Menegonini, video by Dennis Siren, sound by John Magyar.

Remembering Gavin Stairs

The family celebrated Gavin’s life on Sunday, October 17. My cousin Joy Struthers’s wonderful photos captured the essence of the man, the family and the afternoon!  Pics below.

Gavin worked as an engineer for the Physics Department at U. of Toronto for 18 years, helping to create a calorimeter at CERN in Switzerland. He would have been chuffed to read these remarks from the world of physics.

William Frisken, Professor Emeritus, York U. I really appreciated Gavin’s team leader’s paper, “My Life in Physics”, https://www.yorku.ca/science/physics/wp-content/uploads/sites/188/2021/10/W.Frisken-My-Life-in-Physics_Optimized.pdf.. He talks about “mechanical (and digital) genius” Gavin’s contribution from p. 45-54. A fascinating read, and I wish I understood more:) Bill wrote me:”Our marvellous genius, Gavin, has passed. Or I should say, your mavellous genius, as it is many years since we lost him to you. Really, he was his own marvellous genius, and a gem of many facets. Anyway, I believe the 25 years you and Gavin spent together formed the best part of his life, despite his many triumphs as an engineering genius in the land of experimental particle physics.
I include a photo of Gavin et al. posing with the first 14-tonne module of our very successful calorimeter for the ZEUS
experiment at the DESY Lab in Hamburg. This was the first of 26 such modules we produced in a factory Gavin et al
designed, built up (from a bare warehouse) and operated for three years from 1988 – 91. Gavin, Doug Hasell and I designed this huge calorimeter, built a smaller prototype (only 4 tons) in the Physics Dept basement at York to be tested at CERN (Geneva) and won fierce design wars with other European collaborators. But our 26 modules would only be half of the final calorimeter. Part of the large ZEUS collaboration’s decision was that the other 26 modules would be built by our closest competitors (but to our design) at NIKHEF in Amsterdam. That meant several years of travel for Gavin and me to Amsterdam and Hamburg to make sure both halves functioned the same.
Amazing! I worked with Gavin for only half a dozen of my 88 years, but he fills a large fraction of my recollections.
This celebratory picture (with glasses raised) would have been taken in about 1989. (Just before you and Gavin got
together?) He looks happy in these photos, but even happier in the later ones you show in your Gavin Memorial article. You changed his life, Penny, and knowing Gavin, I’ll bet he changed yours too.
Stay safe.
With deepest sympathy,
Bill Frisken”

John F. Martin, Professor Emeritus, U. of Toronto: Very sorry and shocked to hear about Gavin – Sir Gavin as we used to call him sometimes! He was a brilliant guy and I regarded him as a good friend during our working years together, from about 1976 at Carleton where I first came across him. 
I passed on the news to several of his former colleagues and got responses like this:
—————————

It’s sad news, but I was happy to learn that Gavin had such a great life post HEP!   

Gavin was instantly unforgettable.  His business card slogan was something like “Let us think for you”.   It seemed strange to me at first, but his solutions were innovative, doable and very welcome.   Now Gavin is also  gone … I found out a bit more in the London Free Press (from googling: Gavin Stairs  London Ontario).

—————————————————————

He was an engineering genius.

———————

I’m very sorry to hear that Gavin died. He made an inestimable contribution to ZEUS and working with him was always great fun.

————–

Gavin was one of the people I really enjoyed getting to know in the ZEUS group. It looks like he had a good life after leaving the world of calorimeters.

Joy’s photos from October 17:

Gavin’s photos
Gavin’s photos with his step-sister Elizabeth Cote
Nephews Jesse, Zaheed, Jordan… and Kaya

*A TREE-POEM-A-DAY to protect our Ancient Ecosystems*


This month of September, Daniela Elza  is sending a Tree Poem a Day to BC Premier, the Prime Minister, and select Ministers and MPs calling on them to work across party lines to protect Ancient Ecosystems and to protect the peaceful forest defenders at Fairy Creek, BC.

Dear Premier Horgan, Prime Minister Trudeau, Ministers, MPs, current and future MLAs,

It will take extraordinary vision and concerted effort on many fronts to stop our province and country from burning and to combat the climate crisis. But fighting the old-growth forest defenders and protectors is not one of them. 

In a recent Globe and Mail article Grand Chief Phillip said, “You can’t simply parcel this off as an Indigenous cultural rights issue. You can’t parcel it off as an economic issue. You must remain focused on the fact that old growth forests in British Columbia are at the point of extinction. We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect them.” 

I am a writer and educator who spent the last pandemic year writing tree-poems with my students. They had many questions I could not answer. Our policies do not make sense for the bold action we need to take today to preserve our life support ecosystems. I have to ask: WHY? 

Studies out of UBC say: “Trees are the most efficient air conditioner we’ve got”. [https://beyond.ubc.ca/fighting-climate-change-through-our-urban-forests/] In our urban environments this has become particularly urgent in the heat waves. In other words, stop cutting down our most efficient cooling systems on the planet. At Fairy Creek the machines are lining up to resume the ancient tree massacre. WHY?

I am sending you a tree-poem-a-day this month to inspire you to implement policies that will protect our Fairy Creeks, our home, our ancient forests on the verge of extinction, our children, and their future. 

Just like the housing crisis (enabled by policy) is manufacturing homelessness at unprecedented rates, destroying our ecologies is rendering many species homeless and extinct. 

This month the injunction at Fairy Creek will be reviewed and we are going back to the polls. Please commit to more than words. Stop the ancient forest logging, protect the people who are peacefully protecting the ancient ecosystems at Fairy Creek against police violence and violations. Stop policing our right to clean air, diverse ecology, and our chances for survival.

Instead, put these efforts and funds into a vision we can all gather around. Work across parties, across provinces, and across borders. The planet knows no boundaries, or political divides. 

I hope these poems give you inspiration, and the courage to protect the natural wealth we are abusing and losing.

To destroy what is irreplaceable is to steal from the future. 

DAY 9 –  Today’s poem comes from poet activist and London’s inaugural Poet Laureate Penn Kemp, who has believed in the sentience of trees forever and especially in the ongoing, essential presence of old growth forest.

Kind Regards, 

Daniela Elza Vancouver, BC————-

Poem for the Fairy Creek Elders

by Penn Kemp

When Buddhist monks ordain the great Cedar
no axe can approach, none can wield harm.
May we too wrap saffron ribbon round
the girth of beloved ancients. If only symbol
would suffice to protect the great ones.

We breathe trees, their life-giving air and atmosphere.
Until trees breathe us, how can we speak for them?
In protest, we appeal nonetheless, we demand, we assert.
In spirit, I join the seniors who arm in arm surround
the old ones who witness millennia along the watershed
unless their slow heartbeat in heartwood is stopped.

Cardboard cut-outs crafted into trees are planted on
the Legislature lawn, though simulacrum can never
present the magnificence of old-growth forest.
Who can halt this unacceptable harvest of living deities, 
these trees who are the elders of the oldest among us?


And this pine from Southwestern Ontario:

Global Warming in Lytton, A Long View

Essential and all too timely a piece by Harold Rhenisch. So carefully considered. Listen up.

Okanagan Okanogan

The scorching temperatures in Lytton this last week, and the horrible loss of the entire town to fire could have happened long ago. From March of 1869 through November of 1870, Father Pandosy mentioned while packing over the Dewdney Trail from Hope, not a drop of rain or snow fell from the sky and all the rivers ran dry. He was talking about the Okanagan, a bit east of Lytton, but if it happened there, Lytton was probably in a crisis as well. Here’s Lytton in 1867. Not a Canadian town yet.

A lot of local trees went into those buildings, for sure, but likely not the ones on the banks below town or on the steep slopes leading down to the river in the distant. The slope in the foreground, for sure. Note that the flat in the centre of the image, on the bank of the Fraser River…

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