When Politicians are Poeticians…

Here’s to a new tradition in London, Ontario: Poetry meets Politics!  Even more reason to be proud of our new Council!  Here’s to the YukYuks Eight!

YukYuksPoetician

On Saturday at YukYuk`s London, I had the honor of opening the afternoon festivities for“Poets and Politics”, Fun, funny and fund-raising for the Food Bank. Politicans/ poeticians*: we both love language:)… and they outdid themselves.  Thanks especially to John Hassan for seeing the event through from concept to actuality with a little help from his friends!  Holly Painter was our charming MC… no awkwardness there.  And we were treated to a moving poem by Glen Pearson and a song, “Four Strong Women”, with Gina Barber.  Electric all around! Yes, we are this city!

Here`s my rant.

Writer Ursula K Le Guin was honored for her life’s work this month at the American 2014 National Book Awards. In her resounding, prophetic speech, she announced: “Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality….
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

Politicians, you are poeticians. You share a love of language with poets. I ask you to consider your words carefully, starting with ‘considere’: to be with the stars, to take the widest view. Consider the meaning of the word ‘integrity’: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished; soundness. You are like poets in that you believe in words. I wish you fewer! But I wish your words to work true all the way through.

Our new Council is a visionary council, with all the power of new beginnings and a future four years anticipated. As visionaries, you see this world at the same time as you see another. What kind of city can The Forest City be? The movement of potential transformation is from envisioning (as the consultations with Londoners have shown) through expression in words that can then be translated into action, with the people of London behind you. Our new Council, I believe, is keen to negotiate, to include and to persuade. May your ideals translate into direct and effective action. May our plans for this beautiful city be realized. May the best manifest.

Penn

PennPoeticianYukYuks

Photo of me by Nick Steinburg
Photo of Holly and me by Paul Seale

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Upcoming Events and a Rant to warm your heart on chilly days…

When Politicians are Poeticians…

Saturday, 29 November 2014,1:00-3:30 PM. “Poets and Politics”, ON N5W 2X6. “London’s Yukyuks next Sat. afternoon should be fun/ny. I’ll be judging a slam competition with former mayor Jane Bigelow… of poems
written and performed by newly elected city councillors! They take office the next day, Politicans/ poeticians: we both love language:)”

Saturday, December 6, 2014, noon-1pm,  I’ll be reading a new poem in the Ritual of Remembering, Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Brescia University College Auditorium, The Circle, London. Free Parking in all Brescia lots.
http://brescia.uwo.ca/thecircle/events/ritual_of_remembering.html.

Oh yes, the Rant for our much anticipated new Council in London ON!  Here goes:

When Politicians are Poeticians…

Writer Ursula K Le Guin was honored for her life’s work this month at the American 2014 National Book Awards. In her resounding, prophetic speech, she announced: “Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting
the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality….
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

Politicians, you are poeticians. You share a love of language with poets. I ask you to consider your words carefully, starting with ‘considere’: to be with the stars, to take the widest view. Consider the meaning of the word ‘integrity’: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished; soundness. You are like poets in that you believe in words. I wish you fewer! But I wish your words to work true all the way through.

Our new Council is a visionary council, with all the power of new beginnings and a future four years anticipated. As visionaries, you see this world at the same time as you see another. What kind of city can The Forest City be? The movement of potential transformation is from envisioning (as the consultations with Londoners have shown) through expression in words that can then be translated into action, with the people of London behind you. Our new Council, I believe, is keen to negotiate, to include and to persuade. May your ideals translate into direct and effective action. May our plans for this beautiful city be realized.

Penn Kemp

Here’s to the inner Light… and Warmth!  I recommend snogging with your beloved!

snogging2014GavPennfacingBrenda2014

Beloved Gavin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Pageant by Penn Kemp

poemimage

a. penn text water

On the Moon after Solstice
you dream of hiking contours
to cathedral carol service.

b. transcendental
Singing in the cavern of nave,
omphalos to the world, you curve
on rounded meridian of joy to outer
space, linking with others of like mind.

O.dance of the red skirtsP. oval
You race to catch the authors
to know the next act.  Old tales
are told and tell themselves new.

d. stones in a bowl
You connect fragments, dropping
your lines, dropping me a line
in the cheer of retrieval.

e. darkly

1.double page chapbook imageg. three days
Rings of companions collaborate,
not wanting to recapitulate
events of the day merely or
invent night’s happenstance.

golden huecandlelight
Something’s given, something
larger than the single self.
Presently you’ll know the story
as it is happening to you.

the soilold carnival
Singly or together our dreams
direct us, as if night-given leads
to true script.  What is real
agitates dream into action.

q. altered mss

shift

Penn Kemp is London, Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate.

l. abstract ex.

In 2012, Penn Kemp and I published the chapbook Dream Sequins

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Celebrating Ancient Egypt: HELWA!

Suite Ancient Eygpt cover

Helwa!: Experiencing Ancient Egypt ..

Gathering Voices, Penn’s Lit.-on-Air radio show on CHRW Radio Western, 94.9 FM, is heard on Tuesdays, 6:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Tonight, our next show is Helwa!: Experiencing Ancient Egypt. Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 6:30 – 7:00 pm. (R. November 25, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am).

Helwa! is also archived on

and can be heard any time!

Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt, Part 1 by Penn Kemp with The Helwa Ensemble: musicians Mary Lynne Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, sound artist Jocelyn Drainie, Egyptologist/poet Daniel Kolos and belly dancer Ishra Ishra Shirley Blanco. Together we trace the soul’s journey across the nocturnal sky to rebirth the next day: a classical Egyptian journey that the star goddess Nut took nightly. Recorded live at Aeolian Hall (August 2011) and mastered by John Magyar. Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt (cd) will be available from Pendas, pendas@pennkemp.ca.

The chapbook Helwa! (Beautiful) is available for $6 and mailing from Pendas, 525 Canterbury Road, London ON N6G 2N5. Katerina Fretwell’s excellent review is up on ojs.lib.umanitoba.ca/index.php/prairie_fire/article/download/216/204.

Helwa cover

Suite Ancient Egypt is available for $50 from Pendas or from Mother Tongue Publishing Limited, 290 Fulford-Ganges Rd. Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2K6, www.mothertonguepublishing.com. Suite Ancient Egypt, pictured above, is a gorgeous handmade chapbook,

Pendas Productions, 525 Canterbury Road, London ON N6G 2N5, pendas@pennkemp.ca.

More Seventies… P. K. Page, circa 1973

P. K. Page came to visit us on Ward’s Island, Toronto in the fall of 1973. I’d arranged for her to come and read then in the poetry series I was organizing at A Space. The next afternoon, she took the ferry over. The weather was blustery, so we had the oil stove on for the first time that season. Unaccustomed to action, it was puffing and popping away in the middle of our living room. You have to imagine the elderly Island cottage, without much insulation, and with my two small children crawling underfoot. P. K. was dressed to the nines in a glamorous cape and armloads of silver jewellry. But at the stove’s first growl, she leapt up and alighted for the evening on the couch arm that was closest to the door. She’d had an oil stove explode on her before, in Brazil, and she was taking no chances here! But she made that perch hers, crossing her legs elegantly, and gallantly discussing poetry and poets until the last boat swept her away to the city.

P. K. Page: A Tribute

P. K. Page

November 23rd, 1916— January 14th, 2010

http://www.malahatreview.ca/pkpage/kemp.html

Ah, the Seventies…

Mona Fertig has asked me to write about the reading series in Vancouver which she ran in the Seventies at the Literary Storefront.  My memories of reading there loom large but vague, dissolving into impressions rather than facts.

Here goes, November rain of the moment back to BC rain, nearly forty years ago.,,.

The air is heavy with rain and early darkness. We’ve entered Gastown, a part of Vancouver that reminds me of nineteenth century London (England), a scene of swirling mist lit by streetlamps. We clamber over cobblestones, back in time, into Literature, into Myth.

The doll is the first to greet us as we climb the wooden steps to the Literary Storefront. The elegant doll, smartly outfitted in the style of the Twenties, is propped in her corner at the turn of the wide stairs. She lounges nonchalantly, with the eloquent air of the truly blasé, mute but ready to drop a bon mot at any moment. Then, out of the dimly lit space, comes transformation. The doll springs to life, is made manifest in the equally gorgeous person of our hostess, Mona Fertig.

There’s no doubting it could be anyone else but Mona: those scarlet, generous lips in a welcoming smile and the startling eyes,blue with the clarity of glaciers but warm and inviting. Is that a glass of swirling white wine in her hand? And so we enter an evening of literary splendour, of community, of attentive listening, of words that matter. We enter a milieu in which poems thrive and poets. The BC air breeds poets and here they are as audience, shadows at first that slowly become distinct figures as we adjust to the light.

I’m reading with Daphne Marlatt. We first met when I invited her to read in my own reading series at A SPACE Gallery in Toronto in 1973. I’ve heard her read, in that liquid tumble of exquisitely caught phrases that is her writing, but she hasn’t heard me. I open my mouth, looking, I suppose, relatively normal, and perform.  Sound Poetry. “Once having known you the certainty of seeing you move moves me certainly.” A round of incrementals that rolls on and on. Daphne regards me with a complex expression somewhere between disbelief and bemusement. Mona catches the moment on camera: me in full flight and Daphne alert, perhaps alarmed.

Mona brings me out to read the next year, through the Canada Council. It’s always an adventure in wish fulfillment, alighting at the Storefront. I wish I could stay on in such a hospitable realm forever, but am happy to be a guest . I read with Maxine Gadd this time, and, as with Daphne, am enthralled by the sonorous west coast sea swell of her voice with all its resonant modulations.

The Literary Storefront is such a medium for growing Poetry, a rich and fertile seedbed very unlike the crisp, sharp-edged Toronto scene I’ll return to soon enough. I treasure it, yet am unable to live for long in such a rich environment. I fly home, satiated, filled to the brim, ready to write.

Penn Kemp

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