Fox Haunts reviewed

What caught your imagination when you were young?

For me it was Foxes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E58HtvVZQXs*

Two beautiful reviews Fox Haunts came in this evening
one after the other
on little fox feet from the Okanagan.

How could I not share them with you?

FoxHaunts-Cover

 

Fox Haunts. Poems by Penn Kemp. Aeolus House, 2018. 97 pages. $20.

Review by Bill Arnott

First time I saw a fox I was atop an open-air double decker, trundling along rugged coast, intermittently thrashed by leafy birch as though in a weaving Finnish sauna. I was compelled to shield my eyes – the same reaction as when something’s beyond comprehension, available only to the worthy. In fact it was present for everyone. Laid bare, unabashedly rich in beauty and lore. A slender, russet blonde animal, taller than I imagined. Regal. Same as when I met Penn Kemp. Somewhere a fellow trickster – Loki, Kokopelli perhaps, danced a gleeful jig, as I carried a newly signed Fox Haunts to my semi-detached lair.

Adaptation runs through this London Laureate’s new poems in darting twists, flight from imagined hunter’s horn. At times furtive, dreamily camouflaged, or bounding in plain sight, Kemp’s artistry enraptures. We join Penn in childhood, parents fused into fox memories with “A Child’s Garden Fox.”

“Sleepy, sleeping in my mother’s lap. Nestled. / When. A fox ran in front of the car. And / was transfixed by the headlights. Ran and / ran in front of the car but could not escape”

In red hued monochrome we glimpse dead fur and living banshees in “Steal, Stole, Stun.”

“The dried heads of black fox hung / from my grandmother’s stole as if / ready to strike. Dead flat button jet / eyes shut tight to their own secret”

And with fireside ease we move through seasons, geography and myth, playful “Glow” perching us parrot-like on the writer’s shoulder, experiencing evolving words while peering real-time into her thoughts.

“That narrow snout surfaces to / figure your next ploy, asking / curiously: ‘Who do you serve?’ // The essential question mocks / my reply. The whole, of course.”

Reading Kemp’s work I feel nestled in a sidecar affixed to the master’s motorbike, confident in her route, at times in conversation, storytelling, or akin to a lie-down on a therapist’s sofa. This book can leave one simultaneously inspired and intimidated, seeing genius expand exponentially with time.

Writing this I’m at Penn’s desk, at least the one she left for me to use in Vernon, BC. Beside me Fox Haunts lies curled and content, in its rightful place atop the rest. Through a broad bay window a few last leaves cling in vixen colours and from “Entertaining the Fox” the author’s words linger. “May you be translated. And remain / entirely your own.”

poetscorner.ca/team/

Image result for fox glyph

Review by Fern G. Z. Carr

Penn Kemp’s Fox Haunts (Aeolus House, 2018) is an intriguing exploration of all that is vulpine – a quest to define the quintessential nature of the fox. In keeping with its elusive nature, her portrayal of this creature is fluid and dynamic.

The title, Fox Haunts, is an apt play on words.  This is not only a work of place but a work that is indeed haunting – whether by its mastery of surreal imagery such as the reverie of miniature firefly-like foxes or the cruel reality of rabies.

Poems are contrasting yet complementary: predation vs. elegance (“sharp white teeth” / “Vixen slips off her black gloves”) and science vs. folklore (“The earth’s magnetic field serves as a reference guide for our Fox” / “foxglove holds the power of opposites”).

After having examined the vicissitudes and psyche of the fox, Kemp ultimately concludes that a fox is but a fox.  Her final poem in this collection is essentially a benediction with a proviso that the species will be fine as long it can be freed from pejorative mythologies and human interference – a caveat reflecting the sensibilities of the enchanting poems in this book.

www.ferngzcarr.com

 

Stanley Fefferman‘s review is up on http://poets.ca/2018/08/10/review-fox-haunts-by-penn-kemp/ and http://opusonereview.com/?p=4786.

FOX HAUNTS is available from pennkemp@gmail.com for $20 plus shipping, signed.

*Video of my reading by Dennis Siren.

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October readings with Penn in BC!

I was thrilled to be the Kalamaka Press Writer-in-Residence at the Caetani Cultural Centre, Vernon, BC.  October 1-31, 2018.  See http://www.kalwriters.com/residency/residency.html.

Take a look at this gorgeous place and its history: https://www.caetani.org/about/.  I highly recommend a residency here for any artist!

I launched Local Heroes (Insomniac Press), Fox Haunts (Aeolus Press) and reading from Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Press)!

Check out https://www.riverrevery.ca, my new collaboration with Mary McDonald!

Wednesday, October 10, 5:15–6:30 pm. Reading. Contact: Nancy Holmes, Department of Creative Studies, UBC, FIPKE 124, 1148 Research Rd. Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 1V7. Contact: nancy.holmes@ubc.ca 250 807 9369.

Friday, October 12. 12:15-2pm SUAW, Triumph Coffee, Vernon

Sunday October 14, 7:00 pm.  Reading with Daphne Marlatt. Co-op People’s Bookstore. 1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC V5L 3X5. Contact: Rolf (604) 253-6442  coopbks@telus.net

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 8:00 pm. Launch of Local Heroes and reading with Susan McCaslin. Spoken Ink Reading Series, Burnaby Arts Council, Deer Lake Gallery, 6584 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby, BC. Host Lara Varasi, lvaresi@shaw.ca (604)240-8903. Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts. http://burnabywritersnews.blogspot.com/2018/10/our-october-16-spoken-ink-guests.html

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 7:00 pm. Launch and reading with Sharon Thesen. Poets’ Corner, Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia, Vancouver BC. Sponsored by Canada Council.
Contact: James Felton (604) 7676908  jamesfelton52@gmail.com  www.massybooks.com/,
http://poetscorner.ca/home.

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:00 pm. Milkcraters of the Moon Reading Series. Launch and reading with Sharon Thesen at Milkcrate Records, 527 Lawrence Ave., Kelowna, BC V1Y 6L8. Contact: Matt Rader, 250.807.8092  matthew.rader@ubc.ca

Monday, October 22, 2018, 12:30-1:50 pm. Reading, Creative writing, Canadian Literature classes, Department of English, Okanagan College, Vernon Campus. Contact:  Kerry Gilbert kgilbert@okanagan.bc.ca (250) 545-7291 ext 2277.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 6:30-8:30.  Open Mic and Reading. Caetani Cultural Centre, 3401 Pleasant Valley Rd, Vernon, BC V1T 4L4. Contact: Susan Brandoli, executive director,<ed@caetani.org(250) 275-1525  http://www.kalwriters.com/residency/residency.html.

Friday, October 26. 12:15-2pm SUAW, Triumph Coffee, Vernon
7:30 pm. SPOKE, Castani House, Vernon

 

Daphne Penn Western 32018Daphne Penn 32018

With Daphne Marlatt

Penn Susan McCaslin Quattro 2016

With Susan McCaslin

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Friday-Sunday, November 2-4, 2018. Wordsfest, Museum London, 421 Ridout Street North, London ON. http://wordsfest.ca/, http://wordsfest.ca/authors.

Saturday, November 3.  The Poet Laureate Presents: a River of Words. Reading poems from River Revery (Insomniac Press, 2019) with Mary McDonald’s Augmented Reality presentation, https://riverrevery.ca. Wordsfest, Museum London Theatre, 421 Ridout Street North, London ON. http://wordsfest.ca/events/2018/poet-laureate-presents-river-of-words

Sunday, November 4. 2018 at 11:00 am. Penn Kemp & Susan Musgrave​: In Conversation. Wordsfest, Museum London Theatre, 421 Ridout Street North, London ON.  http://wordsfest.ca/events/2018/penn-kemp-susan-musgrave-in-conversation

Reminder of Spring

Here/There

This poem was published this week in https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/here-there/.  It was performed as part of LUMINOUS ENTRANCE: a Sound Opera by Penn Kemp at Aeolian Hall, London ON.

All the ducks in a row

 

Three Mother letters—
Fire, River, Water.

I find you in speaking
tree, pond eye
river ear

meadow’s hand
loop of swallow,
stream of thought

There you are
baby in her bath,
strands of hair floating
as if on the Thames

submerged but for her
smiling face, ahhhhhh
she murmurs

*

Hummingbird fast
as the letter Shin
on fire, on red
cardinal flower.

The bees that return
season upon season
the letter Shin on fire

The mud bank from
which turtle drops,
splash of circling carp

Duck with her brood
aligned behind her,
careful setting out across

the wide water.
strutting down the street
to the creek.

*

There you are, green
again after drab dearth,
long absence of light.

There you are in moments
between friends, among
many.

There you are in the mouth
of another, tenor’s laugh,
an operatic trill.

There you are in the ear
receiving wisdom, at last
ready to understand.

There you are in those eyes,
riverine, opening out, trans-
mitting from mirrored depth.

There you are in a rose,
first bloom or faded,
faintly scenting the air.

There you arise full-blown.

*

You are also inside, inner, with me.
Radiance seen, felt and heard

A whiff of this, aroma of that,
taste on the honeyed tongue.

There you are in the cardinal
feeding his mate. Garlic
scapes spring arabesques

in the air. Goats on hind legs
rear up acacia trunk, giraffe
stooping for special branch.

There you are in the sudden
confirmation of synchronicity
when the radio speaks the word

I am writing. Oracles, move
over. And keep talking, please,
humming through medium cool.

The song responds, corresponds
to mood.

Contemplate the missing, lost,
forgotten, ignored, left out.

Enough now. Let it be
enough. Now let us
praise

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp has been active in Canada’s literary scene since her first publication of poetry, Bearing Down, by Coach House (1972). As well as editing Canada’s first anthology of women’s writing, IS 14 (1973), she wrote the first play produced in Canada about abortion rights. She was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate and the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, 2015. Multimedia works are up on https://riverrevery.ca. Her 2018 poetry books are Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) and Fox Haunts(Aeolus). www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

Shadows, Holes, Poetry and the Art of Speaking as the Earth

Okanagan Okanogan

Last night I wrote a post and then deleted it by trying to save some notes for today, which seemed clever, but was just, well, not. Let’s have a look state of affairs now …

Oh dear.

So, today we get to pull our lost post back down out of the air. Ah, raven has it, as you can see.

Good thing I love ravens.

Caught between a fireplace and Madame Raven herself!

But loving it. Look at how Susan Cain helped her put on her dancing clothes. Nice.

There are principles in the world. One of them is the principle of the hole, or the mouth.

This is not a favourite topic among the pigeons of the Peshastin Pinnacles.

Another is the principle of eggs.

Volcanic Glass, aka the Turtle Eggs of Turtle Mountain

Sometimes eggs and mouths are the same. Well, usually.

This turtling eye in the grass…

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A lovely book of poems from Aeolus House!

Here’s my review of Stanley Fefferman’s The Heart of All Music: Poems about Music and Musicians. Aeolus House, 2018. 52 pp. ISBN 978-1-987872-11-8. $20

Convergence is a word often used to describe the reshaping of our world by such forces as the Internet. This concept also applies to Stanley Fefferman’s latest collection, The Heart of All Music, which can be described, appropriately, as the convergence of a life-time of listening attentively to a wide range of musical genres.

It’s a treat when a poet takes a whole book to explore in depth a single subject. When the topic is music and the poet as knowledgeable as Stanley Fefferman, the result is a gift for all the senses. His work is varied in tone, mood and mode, given a perceptive ear and a gift for translating the complexities of musical experience into language. Fefferman employs a wide spectrum of forms, including prose poems that read like a possible transcription from his original review. The tone of the poems hovers between elegiac and celebratory, performative and prosaic, traditional and contemporary. This elegantly presented book is like a musical score in itself. The Heart of All Music sectioned in the four musical terms of a sonata: “Allegro, “Largo”, “Scherzo”, and the Finale, “Andante Cantabile”.

Fefferman’s preface describes the magic of listening to music. He declares “the feelings that came set off the language centres of the poet-in-me, and the music generated words.” At first I thought of searching YouTube to hear the pieces Fefferman describes. Then I realized that the poems themselves present a complicated translation that is this poet’s specific perception, “sharp as crackling bones/ that fall as feathers filling an entire hall”. The reader experiences Fefferman’s particular vision through his vivid imagery: “Debussy’s unique String Quartet unfolds a shimmer of antique silk/ embroidered with pizzicated rhythms of the new French enthusiasm”.

Metaphors translate the sometime psychedelic experience of a concert. The poet often describes one sense in terms of another, presenting the emotional range of a synaesthete. Indeed, Fefferman includes a poem to Alexander Scriabin, famous for his own synaesthetic correlations. Fefferman offers us fascinating imagery to describe specific works. His phrase, “crennellated patterns”, conjures an instant image of fortified battlements, an image immediately followed by “notes that roll/ like a silken standard in the wind”. We are thrust into a mediaeval scene to accompany Barrios’s “La Cathedral”.

Musicians play off each other; “the players spin solo threads”. Like the musicians Fefferman depicts, the instruments described in these poems have character, indeed personality. “The cello in the scherzo remains sardonic” after “jittery discourses that keen upward till they peter out /— a musical representation of life leaving the body.” Shostakovich’s final sonata is “the corvid utterance of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Nevermore’.” The cello continues “dialogues with itself/ among mutterings of ‘es muss sein’”—Beethoven’s motto in his last quartet. The phrase, “It must be”, figures prominently in  Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being as well, designating an acceptance of fate. A line of poetry also interprets another string quartet in a phrase from Eliot’s The Waste Land. One art is presented in terms of another, engaging both feeling and intellect.

Fefferman’s commentary is a “solo series of precision shifts between attitudes of stillness and repose [that] encode/ a lifetime of contemplation” in a veteran’s “deep acceptance of the world as it is.” Blues, jazz, traditional folk and classical works, Fefferman covers and comments on it all, from O’Carolan to David Bowie to John Hammond to Mozart and Claude Vivier. Fefferman is at his best presenting female singers like Lhasa De Sela in one of his most touching laments, as well as poems to composers cut off too soon by war. His beautiful last poem, dedicated to Dvorak’s Piano Trio in E minor, is a spiritual resolution for both Fefferman and his readers:

“the sound of peace itself
a melody so exquisitely played
the mind is overwhelmed with pleasure
and comes to rest in its own place
like the reflection of sky in lake.”

Fefferman’s epigraph announces that he associates the heart of music with the moment of happiness that he is offering in these poems. Indeed, The Heart of All Music is a paean to Music and Musicians. The cadenced rhythm of these poems will resonate long after the last note, the final phrase. To paraphrase Rumi, in this beautifully produced collection from Aeolus House, “We have fallen into the place where everything is music.”

//

Poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has been lauded as a trailblazer, “a poetic El Nino”, and a “one-woman literary industry”. She was  London’s inaugural Poet Laureate . Her 2018 books of poetry are Local Heroes (Insomniac), and Fox Haunts (Aeolus House). See http://www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

This review is now up on http://bywords.ca/november2018/review1.htm, thanks to Amanda Earl.

London’s Words festival brings writers, readers together

London Free Press WordsFest 2018_jpg_largeThe festival features emerging and established London writers and some of Canada’s most celebrated authors, poets and journalists reading and talking about their work and leading workshops on a variety of topics.

Other familiar names attending the festival are Western University’s writer-in-residence Cherie Dimaline, London’s poet laureate Tom Cull and poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp, whom Ricci met in Whitehorse at a similar festival in the early 1990s.

Kemp is part of the session called Poet Laureate Presents, River of Words on Saturday at 4 p.m. featuring writers and musicians. Kemp will be reading poems from River Revery (to be published next year by Insomniac Press), a collaboration with film artist Mary MacDonald’s Augmented Reality presentation (check it out online at riverrevery.ca.)

On Sunday, at 11 a.m., Kemp and poet and children’s writer Susan Musgrave will give readings and be in conversation with Western professor Allan Pero.

“I love these festivals, both as an outreach to the public and as a way for writers to see each other,” said Kemp, 74, who served as London’s inaugural poet laureate and a Western writer-in-residence as well as the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist in 2015.

“These festivals really bind Canada’s literary community together. But the best thing for me is it keeps me current in terms of what’s happening in the field, especially among the younger, new writers, but also the writers we’ve known for decades.”

Kemp said the “best” part of a Words festival is that it’s free (with the exception of Friday’s opening reception).

“These are among Canada’s most accomplished writers and I’d suggest it’s essential for young writers to attend,” said Kemp.

“You get to hear the poets (and writers) express their work, present it in keeping with their intention, so the voice and the written word match.”

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress


IF YOU GO

What: Words: The Literary and Creative Arts Festival featuring more than 40 authors, poets and other writers from the region and across Canada, presented by Western University, Museum London and London Public Library.

When: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m-7 p.m.

Where: Museum London, 421 Ridout St. N.

Tickets: All events are free. Visit wordsfest.ca for a schedule and details.

View image on Twitter

Museum London@MuseumLondon

What does a free book expo featuring over 40 local authors and small presses inside a museum look like ? Find out at @WordsLDN this weekend! http://ow.ly/oR4G30msM2K

Wordsfest in London ON

This weekend!  November 2-4 at http://wordsfest.ca/!

KUDOS galore to Josh Lambier for steering this grand festival through all five years! A marvelous achievement!  Here’s celebrating our writers, near and far!

https://lfpress.com/…/londons-words-festival-brings-writers…
Thanks to the Free Press for celebrating our authors! WordsFest London Canada

SATURDAY
I’ll be in THE POET LAUREATE PRESENTS, reading poems from River Revery (Insomniac Press, 2019) with Mary McDonald’s Augmented Reality presentation, https://riverrevery.ca. Wordsfest, Museum London Theatre, 421 Ridout Street North, London.
http://wordsfest.ca/events/2018/poet-laureate-presents-river-of-words.

Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 4 pm
Museum London, Lecture Theatre

Mary McDonald is excited to share the animation films and the augmented reality artwork created for River Revery. The AR (augmented reality) artwork will be on display throughout the weekend and Mary will be there helping you to augment your reality! She will also be there to show you how you can become part of the River Revery Story and be featured on the Story Wall at RiverRevery.ca and https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/riverreveryldn/
https://riverrevery.ca/story-wall/#wdi1/1876238441669149753_1957813276

River Revery is an ongoing collaboration about the Thames between Mary McDonald and me, sponsored by London Arts Council’s Community Investment Program and Libro.

http://wordsfest.ca/events/2018/poet-laureate-presents-river-of-words

believe 2018 Mary McDonaldSUNDAY
Join us for a reading and conversation with Penn Kemp & Susan Musgrave, hosted by Western’s Dr. Allan Pero. I’ve known Susan for decades and published her in my anthology of Canadian poetry, TWELFTH KEY,  in 1976 (Applegarth Follies, London!)

Penn Kemp & Susan Musgrave: In Conversation
Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 11:00 am
Museum London, Lecture Theatre
https://www.facebook.com/events/1938720609755974/

Our “In Conversation” sessions at Words Festival offer a unique combination of author readings, moderated dialogue, and questions from the audience!

http://wordsfest.ca/events/2018/penn-kemp-susan-musgrave-in-conversation

ALL WEEKEND
Come meet local authors… and buy our books:)! Souwesto Book Expo

Meet local and visiting authors, discover literary work in a range of genres from poetry to loyalist histories to murder mysteries, and learn from a number of writing and publishing workshops – this is the Souwesto Book Expo!

London's Words festival brings writers, readers together

Review of My “Two Minds” by Susan McCaslin

What a life and poetry-affirming review!

Harold Rhenisch

This review just appeared in Dialogue. It’s so great to have a reader like Susan and a publisher who will give space to a thorough review like this. I am deeply honoured and grateful.

“Two Minds, One Household,”
A Review of Harold Rhenisch’s Two Minds (Frontenac House, 2015)
by Susan McCaslin, Fort Langley BC

twominds
Harold Rhenisch’s recent volume of poetry, Two Minds, is a unified long poem composed of a series of aphoristic ghazals, variations on the Persian classic form. To enter this sequence is to step inside a place where history, myth, language, and the poetry of the natural world converge. In these gnomic utterances, inner realities mirror and contain each other in a way that suggests everything is interconnected with everything else.
The “two minds” of the title are at one level the thinking-feeling individual mind and a more unified consciousness that includes and transcends it. Only a…

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