Scaling the Colour Bar, for Michael Morris

“Scaling the Colour Bar: Ecophonics” is up on

My poem was originally part of Chris Meloche’s hour-long 2010 production called The Space Between: A Transmorphous Journey, at Aeolian Hall, London ON.

Penn Kemp: text and performance.
Chris Meloche & Richard Moule (Transmorphous Sound Ensemble): soundscapes.

Scaling the Colour Bar:  Ecophonics
Transchromaticized by love, by
palette of constantly shifting grey
shades, we intermittently glimpse
vivid streaks, flash on the wing.

Orioles everywhere this year:
bright gleams searing the sky
impeccably orange and black.

A red-winged blackbird creaks
like a clothesline in low gear.
The creek it nests by murmurs
bubbles of possibility, ignoring
frothing eddies of sodden soap
for the fun of funnelling spray.
Spring’s annual utopia of hope
collides with dystopian detritus,
shoreline picketed by plastic.
As parallel discontinuity, planes
scar the blue with contrail puffs
crisscrossing innocent as cumuli.
Seemingly disparate elements
catch the light and loudly soar
co-mingling in cerulean expanse.
Swimming in ether, Kerouac calls,
“My witness is the empty sky.”
Earth responds; river replies…

“The ground that gives rise to
the Word and the Word that
articulates the encompassing

ground are exactly parallel.”

An early version of this poem, “Colour Bar” was published in RIVER REVERY, Insomniac Press, 

Michael Morris (1942-1982) created the colour bar series I loved in the early 70’s. Where he and Mr. Peanut (Vincent Trasov) lived, in Babyland on BC’s Sunshine Coast, glorious colour bars lit up and littered the gardens: fun and an eye opener for me: Art and the land in action…


Best Canadian Poetry 2023

My poem, Cancel Culture, is in BEST CANADIAN POETRY 23!

What inspiring company! Everyone’s kidding me about publishing poems from the future.

Cancel Culture

Between earning and learning lies
kerning, the name for the space
between letters of type to please
the eye in a proportional font both
natural and polished.

Not to be confused with tracking
where spacing adjusts uniformly over
a range of characters. And then
there is leading. And leading on.


To cancel a person now
means to remove

Check your Latin for
cross-hatching. Words
rendered illegible by
drawing lines through
blacked out offending phrases.

Cancello, cross
out. Erasure rules.
Redacted. Where
do we draw
the line?

Leaving mere
palimpsest left
to scratch literate
out of obliterate.

Thank you John Barton, Anita Lahey @Biblioasis!

“‘My goal,’ writes guest editor John Barton of his long career as a literary magazine editor, ‘was always to be jostled awake, and I soon realized that I was being jostled awake for two—myself and the reader… I came to understand that my job description included an obligation to expose readers to wide varieties of poetry, to challenge their assumptions while expanding their taste.’

In selecting this year’s edition of Best Canadian Poetry, Barton brings the same spirit to his survey of Canadian poems published by magazines and journals in 2021. From new work by Canadian favourites to exciting new talents, this year’s anthology offers fifty poems to challenge and enlarge your sense of the power and possibility of Canadian poetry.”

Thanks to Karl Jirgens for reading “Cancel Culture” at the Toronto launch of the anthology!

Poets in Response to Peril: A Gathering of Poets

We are honoured to present our anthology, POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL for @WordsLDN at Museum London on November 5, noon-1:30 pm, in person and on line. Ten contributing poets will read their own poems and others from the anthology!

Please register here:

Poems in Response to Peril: A Gathering of Poets for Ukraine

How do poets respond to precarious events in the world? Poets Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski have co-edited Poets in Response to Peril, an anthology which brings together 61 poems by 48 of Canada’s activist poets in response to the current crisis in Ukraine and other perils afflicting our troubled times.

Words is very pleased to host an event to celebrate the anthology, featuring readings by Penn Kemp, Richard-Yves Sitoski, Robert Priest, Andreas Gripp, Jennifer Wenn, Karl Jirgens, Frances Roberts Reilly, Patricia Keeney, Shelly Siskind, and Susan Wismer. Profits from the book will be directed toward PEN Ukraine’s efforts to provide the Ukrainian cultural community with evacuation and resettlement help.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November!

Our readers are:

Andreas Gripp is the author of Selected Poems 2000-2020.  He lives in London with his wife, Carrie Lee. ​He is the author of various poetry and art publications including Selected Poems 2000-2022 (Beliveau Books, 2022) and still and unstill (Beliveau Books, 2021). Original photos and artwork often accompany Andreas’ writings.

Karl Jirgens, Editor of the enduring and influential Rampike Magazine. Professor Emeritus, Dept. of English Literature & Creative Writing, U Windsor. Karl’s newest book, which he now touring, is titled, The Razor’s Edge (2022, Porcupine’s Quill).  

Penn Kemp has participated in Canadian cultural life for more than 50 years, writing, editing, and publishing poetry, fiction and plays. She was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate and Western University’s writer-in-residence, 2009-2010.  Her poem, “Cancel Culture” is in BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2023. Penn is honoured to again participate in beloved Wordsfest, presenting POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL.

Patricia Keeney is a poet, novelist, arts writer and long-time professor of literature and creative writing at York University. Her latest novel is One Man Dancing (Inanna). Recent poetry volumes include Orpheus in our Time (NeoPoiesis) – ancient hymns and modern dialogue – and First Woman (Inanna).

Robert Priest is the author of fourteen books of poetry, 3 plays, 4 novels, lots of musical CDS, and one hit song. His words have been debated in the legislature, posted in the Transit system, quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, and sung on Sesame Street. His latest album of songs and spoken word is Love is Hard. New poems, If I Didn’t Love the River, are out from ECW press.

Frances Roberts Reilly is a poet and filmmaker whose ethnicity is Welsh Romany/English. Now living in Kitchener, she has an international profile as a Romani writer. Her latest book is Parramisha: A Romani Poetry Collection (Cinnamon Press). She is Producer of Watershed Writers on Midtown Radio KW.

Shelly Siskind published Uncharted Corners of Consciousness, a Guidebook for Personal and Spiritual Growth with Gerbrig Berman in 2012. Her next adventure with, and for her grandchildren, Magnificent 7 Muses, blends the qualities, mishaps, and escapades of wonderful times together, collected and personified into her newest character– Magnificent Mimi.

Richard-Yves Sitoski is the indefatigable co-editor of POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, published by Pendas Productions and his Laughing Raven Press. He co-ordinated our excellent zoom launch and curates the ongoing Poets in Response to Peril, on his  He is a songwriter, a mesmerizing performance poet, the 2019-2023 Poet Laureate of Owen Sound and the Artistic Director of the Words Aloud festival. 

Jennifer Wenn is a trans-identified writer and speaker from London. Her first poetry chapbook, A Song of Milestones, was published by Harmonia Press. Upcoming is her first full-size collection, Hear Through the Silence (from Cyberwit). She has written From Adversity to Accomplishment, a family and social history, and spoken at a wide variety of venues, 

Susan Wismer is grateful to live on Treaty 18 territory at south Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada with two human partners and a very large dog. She is a poet, mother, grandmother, gardener, dancer, hiker, activist and a former professor of environmental studies at the University of Waterloo

Penn’s reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts. As were readings from our launch of POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL at Art Bar Poetry Series, Toronto on October 11, to an enthusiastic full house, as seen here:

Gathering Voices in Response to Peril


The war is still raging… if you don’t have your copy of this anthology in support of Ukraine, order it here for $30 plus post:

Please join us November 5, noon-1:30pm at Museum London for the always wonderful!
Register here for our presentation of POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, in person or online:


Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm. Art Bar Poetry Series. Our launch of Poems in Response to Peril @ Clinton’s. Readers included editors Penn and Richard and six more poets from the anthology: Marsha Barber, Jay Brodhar, Caroline Di Giovanni, Patricia Keeney, Shelly Siskind with host Kate Rogers. .


Recent coverage for the book is up on

Periodicity Journal. Thanks to Gregory Betts for writing this reflective and comprehensive review and to rob mcclennan for all his work in publishing!

The Globe and Mail. Marsha Lederman’s fine article for POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL is in The Globe and Mail print edition, June 28, 2022, featured in LIFE & ARTS, A12. It’s also on line:

Saging: the Journal of Creative Ageing,  P.2, a full page poster in colour and P. 27, info and a poem by Susan McCaslin.  June 28, 2022.

Island Catholic Times. P. 17, info and a poem.  June 19. 
An article is coming out in The Vancouver Sun on Saturday, July 16 as well as in the summer edition of WRITE, for The Writers Union of Canada. Other reviews are forthcoming…

“Ukrainian art in Canada reflects the war and our responses to it”

Marsha Lederman writes in The Globe and Mail: . Or read her heartfelt piece here:

Canadian poets Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski have co-edited Poets in Response to Peril, this anthology which brings together 61 poems by 48 Canadian activist poets responding to the current crises:

These passionate, often heartbreaking, poems invoke sunflowers and broken earth; intimacy and grief; falling bombs and the fragility of flesh; AK-47s and a bride’s bouquet. Gathering voices in the white heat of the moment, this anthology couldn’t be more timely or more necessary.

The book continues with an ongoing YouTube playlist of videos submitted by poets expressing solidarity with those afflicted by war (YouTube > Poets in Response to Peril). Profits go toward PEN Ukraine.

 (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press, 122 pages, 2022

ISBN 978-1-927734-37-7

Cost: $30 plus post. For orders, contact at

June 19, 2022. POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL is out now and it is beautiful… a fitting tribute in solidarity with Ukraine! In solidarity, Londoners came out to help us launch this anthology of urgent poems in support of Ukraine on May 28 at Blackfriars Bistro & Catering, London Ontario.

Sergiy Kuzin has translated “Kind of Intimate“, a poem from the anthology, into Ukrainian. It is now up on

Richard-Yves Sitoski continues to gather our voices in poetry, 52 so far, on Send your video readings to him,

The anthology has been sent to Canada’s ambassador in Kiev and to several poets and publishers in Ukraine, including Dmytro Kremin’s son, also a poet. Our first three reviews are up!

POETS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, our Zoom on April 2, is now up, thanks to Richard-Yves Sitoski: h4. Truly a labour of love, from Canadian poets to Ukrainian poets and people. What a profound and poignant event, gathering 100 poets and participants coast to coast— holding fast for over three hours of words that we so needed to hear. Poetry is the ability to respond, and the poets did, in voices eloquently and powerfully expressed. This blog is intended to keep that community vibe flowing.

Part 1 of our zoom,, features Penn Kemp, Richard-Yves Sitoski, Susan McCaslin, Svetlana Ischenko, Russell Thornton, Albert Dumont, Bänoo Zan, Celeste Snowber, Blaine Marchand and Marsha Barber.

The Zoom recording Part 2 is on Featuring Caroline Morgan Di Giovann,i David Brydges, Diana Hayes, George Elliott Clarke, Charlie Petch, Harold Rhenisch, Jennifer Wenn, Karl Jirgens, Kate Braid, Katerina Fretwell, Kim Fahner, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Marianne Micros, Murray Reiss, Patricia Keeney, Peggy Roffey, Solo and RL Raymond.

Part 3: . Featuring Richard-Yves Sitoski, Robert Girvan, Robert Priest, R. Pyx Sutherland, Sharon Thesen, Sheri-D Wilson, Susan McMaster and Akinlabi Ololade Ige, Susan McCaslin, Susan Wismer, Tanis MacDonald, Tolu Oloruntoba, Yvonne Blomer.

Kudos to Rico (Richard-Yves Sitoski), our indomitable host, along with Owen Sound Public Library!  And please take a listen when you can, when you need to hear these poems. Here’s celebrating National Poetry Month, #npm22.

Attached is our cover for POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, designed by Rico.

Here’s to the community of poets! Gathering voices: so many ways of maintaining connection.
May the conversation continue! For updates, please see Gathering Voices,

And here’s my poem, “Toward”, written on the day of the Zoom:

May peace prevail, inner and outer,

Gathering Voices: poets and participants respond to our Zoom

A wonderful event! Still glowing from the sense of purpose generated when poets come together for an important cause. Poetry forever!
Marsha Barber

Thank you all so much for what was an amazing event. Penn, Susan and Richard for your dedication to this cause, and all the poets and audience. It was deeply moving.
Yvonne Blomer

– it was deeply moving, and healing.  Thank you all!
Kate Braid

It was an extraordinary afternoon hearing all the poets read, relating to these dreadful events in Ukraine. The strange thing is that I didn’t realize how I needed to hear the human reactions, responses poetically—Facing this issue head on (through poetry) is, to my mind, part of the eventual reconstruction of world community.
Holly (& Allan) Briesmaster

Richard/Penn: Congratulations on an impressive Zoom launch! Of all the Zoom events in the past few years i have attended this was the most high profile and meaningful with poets caring about the Ukrainian crisis. Plus so many other topics that they are passionate about. I am so heartened Canadian poets are deeply engaged in the tragedies of the day. I look forward to seeing the anthology and am proud that when the history of these times is written there will not be a blank page for the poets.
David Brydges

Today, I spent almost two hours in zoom poetry reading for “Poets In Response To Peril” as organized by Canadian Poet Penn Kemp. When the invasion of Ukraine began, she wanted to put together a chapbook, but instead, the outpouring of Canadian voices created a full-length book.. within days. 
This is a really remarkable and quick effort, and the reading had me in tears as a poetry and people lover.  My cat enjoyed the reading as well. 🙂
The proceeds of the book sales will go to PEN Ukraine.
Please consider purchasing this book in support of the voices of Ukraine and PEN Ukraine.  email inquiries and orders 
Sarah M. Daugherty

My sincere thanks to Penn and Richard and the Library Zoom meister for arranging a truly astonishing afternoon of poetry, coast to coast. It was an honour to take part. Our poems now go out like prayers to Ukraine and , sadly, other places in our world where people suffering in peril may find a measure of comfort in our words. Poetry does have power. With love,
Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni

Our time together yesterday reminded me of a statement I made years ago. This is it: “Time is the storage place of our memories. And the human heart is the storage place of our tears. I have gone to that place of memories and visited where tears are kept. What I retrieved was the notion that poetry is delightful to the human spirit.” I hope your Sunday is restful and emotionally uplifting.
Albert Dumont

Congratulations on this impressive mobilization of poetic force in support of our allies and fellow artists under attack in Ukraine.
Neil Eddinger

These poets…so amazing…all of them.
Kim Fahner

What an event dear Penn, and such variety and diversity and even Ukrainian spoken! Brava! A huge life-changing Poets in Response to Peril event. Brava/bravo Richard and Penn!! The variety, poignancy, astoundingly creative and delightful videos all contribute to a masterful, memorable production. 
Katerina Vaughan Fretwell

​We were particularly interested in your latest book since it also benefits those affected in the Ukraine. What a beautiful endeavour that helps shed light on the dreadful situation expressed with poetry. It is so beneficial and of course, our residents love reading poetry!
Rebecca Gee

Dear Penn, Rico, Susan and all who made this special event possible…It was an emotional gathering of coast-to-coast poets and poems and I was honoured to be part of the outpouring of love and grief and hope at this time of peril.
Here’s to peace and freedom indeed!
Diana Hayes

Dear Penn & Rico,
Warm thanks for hosting such a wonderful event! It was fabulous.
I know it took a lot of energy to do that. You’re culture heroes!
Excellent reading. — It came out great!
Good to see and hear so many supportive authors!
A strong reading set! — The book extends vital support of Ukraine while condemning war.
What a massive job. Your combined energies on the reading, video and book are deeply appreciated.
Here’s hoping that the war will come to an end soon. 
The world stands against the atrocities.
It is good that Canadian writers also stand against such martial aggression.
Thank you for it all,
Sunflowers for Ukraine) 🌼🌼 🌼
Karl Jirgens

And thanks dear heart for all your continuing efforts. I love that the whole project began with the conviction that poetry makes everything happen…in its time.
Patricia Keeney

Such an amazing project! I hope the blog post, the project (and the new book!) get lots of well-deserved attention and love!
Renée Knapp

Thank you  Richard-Yves Sitoski and Penn Kemp for all the work you put into Saturday’s very moving “Poets in Response to Peril” event. It felt like a teaser for the upcoming anthology. Now I can’t wait to read “Poems in Response to Peril”.
Mary Little

Wonderful initiative, great event. And thanks to you Penn, to Richard-Yves, to Susan McCaslin who worked so hard to bring it to fruition. Thanks to Tim for the technical support. A great gathering. Splendid poetry. Now people should purchase the Anthology and help support Ukraine. But it was great to feel a part of the poetic community this afternoon. I look forward to reading the anthology. There were many powerful, moving poems this afternoon.  
Blaine Marchand

Dear Penn & Richard,
Thanks to you both for collaborating on this wonderful and meaningful event. I hope more books orders flow in. Thanks for all you are doing to get more poets’ voice out to the public, Penn. And thanks for the links you are providing to preserve people’s responses to Saturday’s amazing event. The event continues opening in ever-widening circles!
Susan McCaslin

Yes, thank you Penn, Rico, Tim, Susan, and all of my fellow poets for a most intense and meaningful event. I’ll remember it!
Susan McMaster

One of the poets said that she was falling in love with the community of poets on the zoom. Certainly, it was a wonderful group of poets, both in terms of their poetry and also their humanity. In the midst of sorrow about the war, there was also much beauty in the poets’ words…The breadth and depth of the poems shared by the poets was emotionally moving. Thank you again for putting together such a phenomenal project.
Ola Nowasad

I would like to order a copy of Poems in Response to Peril. I attended the Zoom event on April 2nd and it was phenomenal.
Lisa Reynolds

That was a very rich and varied collection of poems and poets. A delight to be a part of the gathering. Well done, organizers. Thanks!
Peggy Roffey

Sorry Penn for not to be able to participate at event with my voice. I was just ear but not voice. Anyway, I already doing my best with colegues writer here in Bosnia to help some of Ukrainian writer to find temporarry home here in Sarajevo and to be evacuate with great help of German Goethe Institute. I hope I am doing right, aven I have Memory of myself rejecting to leave Sarajevo with my two Children on the beginnig of four years long siege of my city starting 1992.
All the best to you and friends making that event possible.
Goran Simic
Because of a poor connection from Bosnia, Goran was able to be with us only “by ear but not voice.” How ironic, because the voices of those who have known war need to be heard! As this conversation points out:
Dear Mr Simic, (And Everyone else…)
I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, but I do know of your fine work, and have just now read two of your poems, It does not seem right that you could not share your voice at this event, particularly because in addition to your gifts as a poet, you are much closer in many ways to the bloody events unfolding in the Ukraine than many of us here.
Robert Girvan
Dear Robert, thank you for kind words about my poetry. I will be glad to record one of my poems to participate for video Message as Canadian/ Bosnian contribution of poets who alarm the world about attack on Ukrainian state, culture and history. All of my friends writers who survived siege in Sarajevo still feel alive the same scars watching destruction of city and civilians in Ukraina. But with pride for people not to give up struggle. I will do video asap because I spend most of my day on the hill keeping company to the four street abandoned dogs we adopted five years ago.
Goran Simic
Dear Goran,
Excellent! I look forward to seeing you and hearing your voice and words. The lucky ones who have not (yet) faced war, bow their heads to those who have endured it, and listen.
Robert Girvan
Goran has sent the video of his poem for
I hope you do too. His greetings from Sarajevo and the poem:

I am still feeling the pleasure of seeing you in your great blue and yellow costume, and the 
 honour of being involved in the  hours of poetic tension that was so invigorating,  even in the perilous present.
Elizabeth Waterston

All I can say is
Thank you and love to you.
You are a great inspiration,
your spirit, insights and grace
encourage me, inspire.
Sheri-D Wilson

Please let me add my voice to those who have already thanked the organizers and all who attended yesterday’s reading.  It was indeed a marathon and, as one of the final readers, it was gratifying to see how many people hung in through the whole reading in an amazing outpouring of solidarity, support and yes, love. As Richard has noted, if even a fraction of that positive reverse-bomb energy intervenes in places in the world where people’s lives are torn by violence, we will have done our bit for peace and for the sustainable future of humanity. I look forward to receiving my copies of the anthology. 
Susan Wismer

The Cover Reveal!

Reads for International Women’s Day

This month, with comments:) In a time of loss and transition, I’m having trouble organising my mind, so I read instead of writing or editing. A book is so contained with its beginning, middle, and end. Covers we can close with a sense of accomplishment and of completion. I love how books weave around one other, sequentially, thematically, without my conscious intent. So grateful to London Public Library for their engaging and enticing collection! The dregs of winter: a perfect time for tomes and for poems.

Here’s my poem for IWD: “Choose to Challenge”, The video of my reading is up on

Recommended Reads for International Women’s Day and ON….

Angie Abdou, This One Wild Life: A Mother-Daughter Wilderness Memoir. In her dedication, Angie Abdou hopes the reader will receive the book like a long letter from a good friend. And it is: a sweet, endearing, sometimes heart-breakingly honest memoir. But earlier, the price of being so open was a devastating social media attack: Abdou describes the effects in this memoir of healing.  We learn what it is what Abdou plans to do with her “one wild and precious life”. During the Pandemic, it’s a lovely treat to hike in the mountains vicariously with her.  And oh, I loved her cottonwood!

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half. Many different ways of exploring identity and choice and choice’s consequences.

Natasha Brown, Assembly. Rachel Cusk, Sheila Heti and Bernardine Evaristo walk into a bar… and meet Natasha Brown. Assembly is honed stiletto-sharp, not a hair out of place, however the protagonist feels in classist, racist England. “Unfair”, whine the various white men who confront her in this short, perfect novel.

Catherine Bush, Blaze Island. Poignant and powerful writing set on Fogol Island, about climate change: “We were very quickly free of the city and out over the most vivid degree of blue permitted on this planet to the human eye.” “It looked like the earth had resisted the imagination of God or poets, I thought in exhilaration.” And this short, tender film from the text,​.

Sharon Butala, This Strange Visible Air: Essays on Aging and the Writing Life. Always brave, honest and necessary writing.

Clare Chambers, Small pleasures: a novel. So many charming pleasures: beautiful writing, engaging characters and utterly engaging plot.  A delicious read and reprieve from current events.

Sadiqa de Meijer, The outer wards
Sadiqa de Meijer, Alfabet / alphabet: a memoir of a first language
. “Or was there an influence of origins at work, an onomatopoeic element with ecologically ambient sounds and forms giving rise to each language?”
“I tried to contain where the words went, but there are submerged forces in writing—in the land-water realms of consonant vowel—that require our surrender.”
“a sort of sideways drift has taken place among the words”
“The untranslatable is inherent in all intercultural contact, where its particles may accumulate and become tropes of otherness.”

Junie Désil, Eat salt / gaze at the ocean: poems
“scudding back and forth through history”
“There isn’t a pastness”

Esi Edugyan, Out of the sun: on race and storytelling.
“In the 1800s, Black pioneers established themselves in Priceville, Ont., only to be eventually pushed out by European settlers. The only thing that remained of them was their cemetery.”

Louise Erdrich, The Sentence. Louise Erdrich herself reads the audiobook in a delicious rendition as funny as it is powerfully poignant. And the novel includes a bookseller called Louise! A ghost story that starts on Halloween 2019 and progresses through that annus horribilis till Halloween 2020: one long sentence of the present. Glorious!

Annie Ernaux, Hôtel Casanova: et autres textes brefs. Autofiction écriture at its finest in curious glimpses: “l’écriture, du rapport qu’elle a avec le monde réel.” My school French was good for Ernaux’s lucent prose, until the slang of dialogue…

Lucy Foley, The Guest List. A predictable but fun mystery set on a secluded Island… murder ensues.

Louise Gluck, Faithful and virtuous night
Louise Gluck, American Originality: Essays on Poetry. Essential and astonishing reading and re-reading for any poet and reader of poetry. “What remains is tone, the medium of the soul.”
“The silenced abandon of the gap or dash, the dramatized insufficiency of self, of language, the premonition of or visitation by immanence: in these homages to the void, the void’s majesty is reflected in the resourcefulness and intensity with which the poet is overwhelmed.”
“the use of the term ‘narrative’ means to identify a habit of mind or type of art that seeks to locate in the endless unfolding of time not a still point but an underlying pattern or implication; it finds in moving time what lyric insists on stopped time to manifest.”

Amanda Gorman, Call Us What We Carry. An astonishingly accomplished and moving collection.
The Muses, daughters of Memory inspire us.
“History and elegy are akin. The word ’history’ comes form an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘to ask.’” Anne Carson
Lumen means both the cavity
of an organ, literally an opening,
& a unit of luminous flux,
Literally, a measurement of how lit
The source is. Illuminate us.
That is, we too,
Are this bodied unit of flare,
The gap for lux to breach.”

Joy Harjo, Poet warrior: a memoir
In these quotes, you can experience her voice directly as written: “And the voice kept going, and Poet Warrior kept following no matter
Her restless life in the chaos of the story field.”“Every day is a reenactment of the creation story. We emerge from
dense unspeakable material, through the shimmering power of
dreaming stuff.
This is the first world, and the last.”
“The imagining needs praise as does any living thing.
We are evidence of this praise.”
“When you talk with the dead
You can only go as far as the edge of the bank.”
“Frog in a Dry River”

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

Lauren Groff, Matrix: a novel. “Visions are not complete until they have been set down and stepped away from, turned this way and that in the hand.” Loved this celebration of mediaeval visionary Marie of France!

Bell Hooks, All about love: new visions. “Love invites us to grieve for the dead as ritual of mourning and as celebration… We honor their presence by naming the legacies they leave us.”

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko. Fascination depiction of a war-torn Korean family saga, now filmed. All too relevant still.

Maggie Nelson, On Freedom. I’m listening to Maggie Nelson ON FREEDOM ironically, given Canada’s truck convoy versus convoys to Ukraine. Oh, the loss of innocence in that word’s current associations.

Molly Peacock, Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door.
A lovely study of painters and painting. Tonalists “connected light both to emotions—and to the sounds of emotions. Using musical vocabulary, like nocturne or symphony, they suggested that emotions could be heard through paint”. “tap into childhood to find the ‘transitional object;” as D.W. Winnicott calls it: “‘Our first adventures into reality are through the objects” with “vitality or reality of [their] own.”

Angela Szczepaniak, The nerves centre. A ten-act cast of characters: poetry in performance, poet performing! A study of anxiety, her titles from self-help with dramatis personae. My fave: Mime Heckler. Utterly uttered!

Lisa Taddeo, Animal: a novel is a ferocious diatribe against male sexual violence. Since the book is dedicated to her parents and she lives with her husband and daughter, I wondered about the story behind the novel.

Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise. Nicely structured fin de siècle tome, over three centuries, based on Washington Square and similarly named characters not to mention Hawaiian royalty. Deja vu, David Mitchell!

Zoe Whittal, The Spectacular. Three generations of women negotiating current, changing times.  It’s complicated, very. Spectacular, if you’re 21.  I’d have liked much more from the oldest woman but it’s a long novel as is. Reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue.

To remind us of spring…

Please join me on

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


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
“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”



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.”

“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:

Vera reading her translation of the poem into Elvish!

See also

Photo: Angelo Bucciarell

Cornelia Hoogland & Penn Kemp: In Conversation

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!

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:…/WN_DjcJK4…

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.


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 or, signed, from me,

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

Celebrating Gavin Stairs!

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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,


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!

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.…

Dear friends set up this

“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 from Beliveau Books is out!


Sunday, September 5, 2021, 7:30-9:35pm. Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert St., Stratford ON. I’ll be reading as Featured Poet, 

If you’d like a numbered copy signed to you, let me know, 
If you’d like a numbered copy, unsigned, please contact

The cost is $15, including postage. See

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.

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,

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


“Diving into a new book of poems by Penn Kemp is like setting out on an adventure.” 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: And

“A new book of poetry from prolific Southwestern Ontario writer and spoken word artist Penn Kemp”,

On Line

Read Richard-Yves Sitowski’s review in “SUSTAINING CONNECTIONS” on, 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:
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. #.

The London Free Press featured it:

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:

“There you are”, from A Near Memoir, is at 8:14 in my Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, up on

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

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: Contact: <>.

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 :// Co-hosted by Kelly Kaur and Lyn Cadence. Sign up for the event on Eventbrite. #NPM2021,

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:

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

New Publications

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher,

“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.

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6., March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of 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.


Up now!

The Free Press has a marvellous article on line: The video link to reading the poem:

“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”: The recording is up on

February 19, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun”. One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series. From FOX HAUNTS, P. 15 (Aeolus House) Video:

February, 2021. “We are gonna begin writing sometime when…” from “Re:Solution”. Performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix on Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <

February, 2021. “Heart to Art” from Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books)

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

April 18. NPM. Readings from “Voicing Suicide”, an anthology edited by Daniel G. Scott. Contact: <>, organizer Josie Di Sciascio Andrews <>

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:

May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series. Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski

September 5, 7:30-9:30pm, 2021. Feature, Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert Street, Stratford ON. Host: Andreas Gripp, Contact

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

New Publications

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude,, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6., March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of Pre-order now.

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher,

“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.

“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, <

“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).

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 ( Contact: Linda,

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

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

Up now! February, 2021. “Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix on Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <

February 26, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun” from Fox Haunts, One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series,

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,

February, 2021. “Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix for Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <

February 26, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun” from Fox Haunts, One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series,

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,​

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 ( Contact: Linda,

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

May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series. Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski

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

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, 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, <

“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,

Recently Published

“Tangled”, P. 124-5. “Snarl”, P. 150-1. Voicing Suicide. Daniel G. Scott, editor, 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,

“A Short History of Epiphany”, p. 38.,&nbsp;

May poetry see us through! 

My books are available from or from



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.

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

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 , and reading new work by Canadian women novelists.

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

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

Read on ! Read often:)

Sounds of Trance Formation

Sounds of Trance Formation:

An Interview with Penn Kemp now up!

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:…Meeting ID: 837 7851 5727
Password: resonate
One tap mobile
+16473744685,,83778515727#,,,,0#,,71824394# Canada

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: at

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


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

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

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

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.

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

Or order from Amazon*. Details below.

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

River Revery front back cover

Celebrating local writers!

Local Heroes cover good

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



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


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: and

And this anthology,  available only from me. $20 in this format.  But for $12, without the colour, order from


* Find my books on

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! 


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 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


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



Close Up: Poems on Cancer, Grief, Hope and Healing is available now,!
I’m honoured to have “Homing”, a poem for Gavin, in this essential anthology.


Home is where the heart
is where the heart is home.

Home is where the art hangs
where the art is home.

Om is where the heart hides
when the heart is home.

Home is where the rest
is when the rest is home.

When the rest is restless
home is where you roam.

When the rest is over
then you can leave home.

Rest is more or less than
when you have left home.

Leave is better left less
lest you’re left alone.

When you’re left alone
then you claim your home.


Poems in Translation from Poems in Response to Peril

Join us in person or on line, November 5, noon to 1:30 at the venerable Wordsfest, London, Ontario:!

Ten contributors will read their own poems from Poems in Response to Peril, and other poems from the anthology.

Two of Ukrainian poet Dmytro Kremin’s poems have been translated for the anthology by Svetlana Ischenko and Russell Thornton.

Several poems have been translated into Ukrainian! Marianne Micros’s poem will be read on November 5: here it is, in translation by Ukrainian poet Natalia Klymchuk. Below her poem is one of mine, “Kind of Intimate”, translated by Ukrainian poet and publisher Sergiy Kuzin as “Touches Souls, I Suppose”.


                                    my grandson asks

мій онук питає

                                                what if

                                                my mom was married to her last husband

                                                when I was born? would he be my dad?

                                                what would I look like?

а якби

моя мама була за своїм попереднім чоловіком

коли я народився? він був би моїм татом?

яким би я був?

                                                what if

                                                my mom died? where would I go?

а якби

моя мама померла? де мені тоді жити?

                                    I too ask questions

                                                what if

                                                I lived in Ukraine when the Russians invaded?

                                                what would I do? would I leave?

                                                what would I take with me?

                                                would there be time to pack a suitcase

                                                of clothes and toiletries and pills and photos?

                                                or would I have to escape suddenly

                                                with just my purse and my passport?

Я теж питаю

а якби

я жила в Україні, коли вдерлися росіяни?

шо б я робила? утікала б?

що б узяла з собою?

чи мала б час покласти до валізи

одяг, і засоби гігієни, і піґулки, і світлини?

чи довелося б утекти зненацька

із сумочкою й паспортом?

                                                I would run out the door

                                                hunker down between damaged buildings

                                                jump over rubble and maybe bodies

                                                suppress screams when lights flashed

                                                and bombs exploded

я б вибігла з дверей

скрадалася б між понівеченими будинками

перестрибувала б через руїни а може й через мертвих

тамувала б крик від спалахів

та вибухів бомб 

                                                I would join a long line of women

                                                carrying crying babies

                                                and clutching the small hands

                                                of frightened children

                                                as they kissed their husbands

                                                fathers brothers friends goodbye

я б стала однією з тих жінок у довгій черзі,

які несуть заплаканих немовлят

стискають маленькі ручки

наляканих дітей

і цілують своїх чоловіків

батьків братів друзів на прощання

                                                I would stand there in the cold

                                                a flimsy scarf covering my hair

                                                my winter jacket hugging me

                                                not tightly enough

                                                as I waved goodbye to everything

я б стояла там на холоді

з благеньким шарфом на голові

з нещільно накинутою на плечі

зимовою курткою

і махала б усьому на прощання рукою

                                                what if

                                                my family was there with me?

                                                maybe my grandson would say

                                                what if

                                                we lived in Canada in a big house

                                                with three cats and no bombs?

                                                what if

                                                there was no war

                                                and this never happened?

                                                would mama be smiling? would you be singing?

                                                would we dance outdoors in the sun?

а якби моя сім’я була зі мною там

може мій онук сказав би

що якби

ми жили в Канаді у великому будинку

з трьома котами і там не було бомб?

що якби

війна не почалася

і цього всього не сталося?

чи усміхалася б мама? а ти б співала?

ми б танцювали надворі під сонцем?

                                    I wonder

                                                if I would stay in my small house

                                                of bright-coloured ornaments and warm blankets

                                                holding my cat as I watched out the window


якби я була у своєму будиночку

де яскраві барви і теплі ковдри

і дивилася у вікно з котом на руках

                                                what if

                                                bombs or rockets shattered my roof

                                                my walls my entire house?

                                                would I run? would I fight?

що якби

бомби чи ракети рознесли на друзки мій дах

мої стіни увесь мій дім?

я б утікала? я б пішла у бій?

                                                perhaps I would stand before the enemy soldiers

                                                block their vehicles yell out

                                                this is my home   go back

може я б стала перед ворожими солдатами

перепинила б їхні машини кричала б

то мій дім ідіть звідси 

                                                but what if

                                                I am in Canada in my warm well-lighted home

                                                eating meatloaf and baked potato

                                                a fantasy world where I cannot even imagine

                                                the buildings in ruins the cries?

а якщо

я в Канаді у своєму теплому освітленому домі

їм м’ясний рулет з печеною картоплею

вигаданий світ якого я навіть не можу уявити

зруйновані будинки плач 

                                                what if

                                                my grandson holds tight to my hand

                                                and says it’s time to go, baba?

а якщо

мій онук міцно стискає мою руку

і каже час іти, бабуню?

                                                what if

                                                this never happened

                                                this always happens

                                                this must not happen?

а якщо

цього ніколи не було

це завжди відбувається

цього не повинно бути?

                                                what if

а якщо

Marianne Micros has published two books of poetry and a book of short fiction, Eye, which was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award for fiction in 2019.   Her new story collection, Statue, is forthcoming from Guernica in 2023. 


Ukrainian poet and publisher Sergiy Kuzin has translated my poem “Kind of Intimate” from POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL into Ukrainian! Its title in Ukrainian is the beautiful: “Touches Souls, I Suppose”.
He uses the notions of “untouchable (nedoTORkany) path” vs “untrodden (neTORovany) path” to render word-play in the final stanza. A version of my poem is up on

About the anthology, Kuzin writes, “Poems in Response to Peril is a joy to read and a reminder to all of us that a shared grief is easier to endure.”

Sergiy Kuzin is the founder and publisher of Zaza, an independent magazine of Ukrainian poetry and fiction. He has also translated the poetry of Brandon Melendez and Ian Burnette. He lives in the Kyiv region, in the village of Blystavytsia near Bucha.

Торкає душі, напевно

Що може торкати більше, ніж 
постійний потік інформації з наших екранів,
образи, що залягли на потиличній частці головного мозку,

закарбувалися там назавжди?
Що може торкати більше, ніж глибока любов,
яка прив’язує родину, друзів та іноземні обличчя,

які ми бачимо в мережі, до відомої нам орбіти? 
Знаючи, що всі ми – єдиний, з багатьма кінцівками, звір,
що називається людством.

З ним ви чи проти нього, але він стоятиме цілий і сам.
Що може торкати більше, ніж весілля у 
фронтових умовах, коли наречена тримає 

букет між собою і нареченим –
обидва в камуфляжі, обидва готові захищатися?
Коли гострий метал пронизує плоть,
сталь угризається в кості.

Кровотік наповнений звуками, 
що засіли у коридорах
розбомбленого пологового будинку,

дітьми, що залишаються під його уламками,
не кажучи вже про немовлят і породіль.
Що може торкати більше, ніж мить,

коли думка набирає форми
завдяки ручці й паперу, пальцям 
і клавіатурі? Перед тим як слова постануть

і стануть на місця – священний зв’язок літер,
узгоджений рух уперед,
що не існував раніше, до того, як зродився 

вірш? Наслідок – яскраво-червона плацента 
полегшення, спосіб удячності, 
відкритий стражданням, – за те, що залишається 

щось, поки гинуть цивілізації, 
і цей занепад порожньо дзвенить у наших вухах.
У наш час і поза ним, коли 

ламаються перепони історії,
те, що торкає нас сьогодні, не є недоторканим шляхом.
Воно є шляхом неторованим.

Sergiy Kuzin

Kind of Intimate

What could be more intimate than
constant streaming on our screens,
images plastered on the occipital
nerve, imprinted, planted, permanent?

What more intimate than a deep love
roping in family, friends, and foreign
faces on the Web to our known orbit?

In the knowledge that we are all one
multi-armed huge beast we call humanity.
backed for or against, wholly, alone.

What could be more intimate than
a marriage under siege, the bride’s
bouquet between her and him in
 camouflage, weapons at the ready?

A sharp pang of metal piercing flesh,
the rude intrusion of steel into bone.
Sounds haunting the bloodstream
linger along what once were halls

of the bombed maternity hospital,
children still under the walls, not to
speak of infants, mothers in labour.

What more intimate than the time
when thought coalesces into form
between pen and paper, text onto key
board? Before words arise and fall

in place, the sacred alphabet arranged
just so in orderly progression that never
before has taken shape, as the poem is
birthed? Its aftermath, crimson placenta

of relief, grief given way to gratitude
that something remains while entire
civilizations collapse and fall. The fall
resounding rings hollow down our ears.

In our time and beyond, throughout
the barriers of history being broken,
the current kind of intimate intimidates
us not into submission—but to action.

See Penn Kemp’s video reading, see
This poem was commissioned by the League of Canadian Poets for National Poetry Month 2022
on the theme of Poetry and Intimacy

The anthology is available for $30 plus post from Richard-Yves Sitoski,

Launching Poems in Response to Peril

Gathering voices in the white heat of the moment, this anthology couldn’t be more timely or more necessary.

Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology in Support of Ukraine (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven).
122 pages). ISBN 978-1-927734-37-7.  Purchase for $30 plus post:

Given the immensity of suffering in the war on Ukraine, we were galvanized to gather together poems in solidarity with Ukrainians. The anthology, co-edited with Richard-Yves Sitoski and myself, was launched 3 months after the invasion began in February: a huge endeavor that includes 48 Canadian activist poets.


Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm. Art Bar Poetry Series. Our launch of Poems in Response to Peril, @ Clinton’s. 693 Bloor W. south-west corner of Clinton and Bloor near Christie, Toronto. Kate Rogers, emmcee. Readers include editors Penn and Richard and six more poets from the anthology. Poets will read their contributions plus other poems in the anthology: Contact Richard-Yves Sitoski,


My five recommendations of Canadian anthologies for social justice, women and the environment:

Poem for Peace in Two Voices. Read with Richard-Yves Sitoski #poetsinresponsetoperil​
Poème à deux voix pour la paix, lit par Richard-Yves Sitoski et Penn. Traduit par Claude Gillard

Poets are still responding…

If you are in Toronto, we are looking forward to seeing you at Art Bar the day after Thanksgiving to launch our anthology in support of Ukraine! with editors Richard-Yves Sitoski and myself; host Paul Edward Costa and contributors Patricia Keeney. Tanis MacDonald. Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni. Marsha Barber and Jay Brodbar!

The anthology will be available! And you can order it here:….

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine, edited by Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski. (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press, 2022, 121 pages) ISBN 978-1-927734-37-7

The Poets in Response to Peril video playlist is still active and will be till the end of the war. The readings are up on
To contribute a video reading of your poem in response to peril, contact #poetsinresponsetoperil.

The Writers Union of Canada asked me to write a piece on our project for their summer issue, “Dispatches”, up now in Write,

Our anthology heads the five best books I chose to profile about social justice: see them all on

More info:

31 Books of Poetry in 31 Days

My pics @SealeyChallenge #31BooksInAugust #TheSealeyChallenge #TheSealeyChallenge2022

Day 1 Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees. Christine Lowther, editor. @CaitlinPress. Such an evocative, provocative essential anthology! Poets, both settler and Indigenous, pay tribute to trees through reflections on the past, connections to the present, and calls for the protection of our future.

Day 2 Resistance Anthology: Righteous Rage in the Age of Me Too. University of Regina Press. Sue Goyette #editor…

Day 3 Charlie Petch, Why I Was Late. “To be performed with dulcimer.” “Things You Didn’t Know about Me” Self-referential, engaging fun Performative poetry like Nerve Centre but stronger.

Day 4 Voicing Suicide. Editor, Daniel C. Scott… This collection of poems offers important explorations by writers who speak of it without bars.

Day 5 Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees.  Editor, Lesley Strutt. This anthology continues my theme of activism through poetry to raise awareness about our threatened environment.

Day 6 Junie Désil. Eat salt/gaze at the ocean: poems “scudding back & forth through history” “There isn’t a pastness”/

Day 7 Missing link: On the Storm/In the Struggle. Editor, Adebe DeRango-Adem. @adebe_

 Day 8 Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony “It can take billions of years for light to reach us through the galaxies, which is to say, History is ever arriving.”

Day 9 Amanda Gorman Call Us What We Carry. “Lumen means both the cavity of an organ, literally an opening & a unit of luminous flux Literally a measurement of how lit The source is Illuminate us”.

Day 10 No Sleep ‘til Eden. Richard-Yves Sitoski is a poet to watch! Owen Sound Poet Laureate’s collection reaches out from printed word to multimedia, all for ecopoetics!

Day 11 Susan McMaster, Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, Black Moss Press: poignant, powerful & funny a la fois.

Day 12 P.S. by Penn Kemp and Sharon Thesen @GapRiotPress

Day 13 Harold Rhenisch, Landings: #Poems from Iceland @
Essential, elemental #poetry of the first & most ancient order

Day 14 Susan McCaslin, gorgeous Heart Work @EkstasisEditions

Day 15 Patricia Keeney. ORPHEUS IN OUR WORLD @NeoPoiesisPress. Contemporary inspired readings reclaiming ancient hymns

Day 16 Daphne Marlatt, THEN NOW @talonbooks “verbal pathways”  

Day 17 Diane Seuss, Frank: sonnets: so good!

Day 18 D.A. Lockhart. Go down Odawa way  Kegedonce Press @WRiverLockhart

Day19 @Tanis MacDonald MOBILE @bookhugpress “La Donna E Mobile” and so is this peripatetic collection!

Day 20 @SheriDWilson, grand LOVE LETTERY TO EMILY C @FrontenacHouse 

Day 21 Susan Musgrave, Origami Dove @McClellandBooks

Day 22 Margaret Christakos, charger @talonbooks

Day 23 Kevin Andrew Heslop, The correct fury of your why is a mountain

Day 24 Joy Harjo, Poet warrior: a memoir
“The imagining needs praise as does any living thing.
We are evidence of this praise.”@SealeyChallenge #31BooksInAugust #31Books31Days #TheSealeyChallenge

Day 25 Yusuf Saadi, Pluviophile“…do the dead hide inside
poems, in the corridor between stanzas, curling fetal  @NightwoodEd

Day 26 Louise Gluck, Faithful and virtuous night  “What remains is tone, the medium of the soul.”

Day 27 Anne Simpson, Light falls through you. Beautiful! 

Day 28 Carl Phillips, Pale colors in a tall field

Day 29 Ocean Vuong, Time Is a Mother

Day 30 Sadiqa de Meijer, The outer wards & Alfabet / alphabet: a memoir of a first language. I couldn’t choose just one, so here are both!

Day 31 POETS in RESPONSE to PERIL! An  anthology of Canadian poets in support of Urkaine:

And SO Many MORE!

6 Canadian Anthologies for Social Justice, Women and the Environment

The Books I Picked & Why: here’s my list for!

I love gathering poets together to celebrate different causes. In fact, I hosted a weekly literary radio show, Gathering Voices, for seven years and published a book/cd collection, Gathering Voice. Since 1972, I have been publishing poetry as well as editing anthologies that collect differing voices, as an activist and poet/editor: gathering voices for women, nature, and social justice is my passion. Given the immensity of suffering in the war on Ukraine, I was galvanized to gather together poems in solidarity with Ukrainians. The anthology, co-edited with Richard-Yves Sitoski, was launched 3 months after the invasion began: a huge endeavor that included 48 activist poets.

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine

Edited by Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski

Book cover of Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine

What is this anthology about?

Canadian poets Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski have co-edited Poets in Response to Peril, this anthology that brings together 61 poems by 48 Canadian activist poets responding to such current crises. 

These passionate, often heartbreaking, poems invoke sunflowers and broken earth; intimacy and grief; falling bombs and the fragility of flesh; AK-47s and a bride’s bouquet. Gathering voices in the white heat of the moment, this anthology couldn’t be more timely or more necessary. The book continues with an ongoing YouTube playlist of videos submitted by poets expressing solidarity with those afflicted by war (YouTube > Poets in Response to Peril). Profits go toward PEN Ukraine. is a great website to help readers find new books in innovative ways: by topic, for example, as in my list of Canadian #poetry anthologies.

Take a look at this new platform for promoting books: @Shepherd_books