City’s former poet laureate urges Londoners to ‘butt our heads against the powers that be’
Chinese New Year inspires London poet Penn Kemp
“Poet Lionizes goats– no kidding”
By Dan Brown, The London Free Press
London writer, poet, playwright, performance artist and author Penn Kemp. (Free Press file photo)
- London poet Penn Kemp wants us all to be more like goats. That’s the message behind a poem she’s penned to commemorate the Chinese New Year.
“I’m making a very political point,” she said of the 12-line work that she put together Thursday morning. “We want to butt our heads against the powers-that-be.”
Although she typically works from sounds, this particular poem came to her through the imagery of the Chinese zodiac.
There has been some discrepancy over whether this is the year of the goat or the sheep, but Kemp thinks we should emulate the former — known as a stubborn, ornery animal that can stomach almost anything.
Kemp — London’s poet laureate from 2010 to 2012 — grants that sheep are cuddly and cute, making for a more pleasant image. However, she thinks “the goat is a really more intelligent, aware animal than the sheep.”
She intends to collect the poem into a forthcoming manuscript of political poetry. “I try to be clear and that’s tricky,” she said of her process. “Metaphors can often be read and interpreted on many levels and in many ways.”
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Butting In The Year of Yang, 2015
Christians may separate sheep from goats but
Chinese does not distinguish between Caprinae.
Yang, ‘a hoofed animal that eats grass and bleats’.
Any ruminating mammal. That Hong Kong leader
claims it’s the Year of the Sheep so unruly subjects
will fall meekly into line. His nickname: the Wolf.
Specific qualifiers Green and Wood lead me to Goat,
not so cuddly or kind, but knowing his own mind—
wild dancing Pan clacking his hooves in a clearing.
Sound the horns! Let Pan pipes start trilling reels!
May the play commence and whirl wind up again.
Light slanting in long through green scent of cedar.
This poem is for all activist art and activist artists!
May the Wood Goat upset Harper’s applecart with a big BUT…!
No need to be sheepish. Don’t let him get your goat.
Ram his agenda!
How many goats would a wood goat goad
if a wood goat could goad Harper?
Photo: Derek Ruttan, London Free Press