Four Days in May: Winnipeg, 2015

Memories of Winnipeg: wafting lilacs this way! A confluence of two great rivers. And the city is an island of mature elms: arching over the streets…

A glorious gaggle of writers! We’re in Winnipeg for the 2015 joint conference presented by the League of Canadian Poets and the Writers Union of Canada. This celebration marked the 49th annual LCP Poetry Conference and Festival. So many good panels and talks and collective catching up.

May 29. A photo after my reading… and participatory sounding.. in The Aboriginal Resources section of The Winnipeg Public Library. The reading was sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, the Library and CV2..Here’s the poster: ReadingWinnipeg.

Mora Gregg, Barbara Schott, Clarise Foster, Margaret Sweatman, Teri Degler, me, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Ellen Jaffe

Mora Gregg, Barbara Schott, Clarise Foster, Margaret Sweatman, Teri Degler, me, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Ellen Jaffe

May 30. For the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets, I read my poem dedicated to Colleen Thibaudeau. The text is up on https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/poem-for-poet-colleen-thibaudeau/.

I was delighted and honoured to present the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award award at the League of Canadian Poets banquet in Winnipeg on May 30 to esteemed Saskatchewan poet Glen Sorestad, represented by Tracy Hamon. James Reaney recently wrote about Colleen and Glen Sorestad in his blog: http://blogs.canoe.com/brandnewblog/entertainment/glen-sorestad-wins-2015-colleen-thibaudeau-award-yay/. There was a large turn-out, as the League event was combined with the Writers’ Union AGM. Colleen would have chuckled at the orange flower I wore in my hair for her!

Photo: Susan McCaslinWinnipeg palm up

And I was awarded the 2015 SHERI-D WILSON GOLDEN BERET AWARD.
“The Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award was created by Sheri-D Wilson—a pioneer of spoken word poetry in Canada—to honour a Canadian spoken word artist who has made a substantial contribution to the development of spoken word, through the originality and excellence of his or her own writing/performance works, and through involvement in—and contributions to—the expansion of the spoken word community. The award carries a $1,000 prize and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and Calgary Spoken Word Society.” 2015 Jury:  bill bissett, Moe Clark and Sheri-D Wilson. Judges’ Comments: “We are pleased to honor performance poet, activist and playwright Penn Kemp of London, Ontario for her influence and impact on spoken word in Canada.”

What a thrill!

Accepting Golden Beret award from Ayesha Chatterjee, President of the League of Canadian Poets. Photo: Susan McCaslin

Accepting Golden Beret award from Ayesha Chatterjee, President of the League of Canadian Poets.
Photo: Susan McCaslin

Winnipeg banquet audience

I'm describing Sheri=D Wilson as Poet Lariat!

I’m describing Sheri=D Wilson as Poet Lariat!    The above photos were taken by Susan McCaslin.

Winnipeg Banquet Penn, Teri Degler , Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin

Winnipeg Banquet
Penn, Teri Degler , Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin

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Kate Braid, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Bianca  Lakoseljac, Penn, Teri Degler Photo: Allan Briesmaster

Kate Braid, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Bianca Lakoseljac, Penn, Teri Degler
Photo: Allan Briesmaste

May 31. Glad to be Carmelo Militano’s guest  from 4:30-5pm on CKUW, University of Winnipeg Radio! Synchronicities abound.  You can hear the half hour on https://ckuw.ca/128/20150531.16.30-17.00.mp3.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he interviewed me on his show, P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Mora Gregg and I walked this lovely labyrinth dedicated to Carol Shields.

Photo: Mora Gregg

Photo: Mora Gregg

In the Manitoba legislature building, I got to sound the echo in the round Egyptian room.  Sphinxes, Athena, Medusa, bronze buffalo bulls… and golden Hermes on top, pointing a way along the avenue to open the North!  Mysteries abound… along with giant polar bears.

Photo: Heidi Greco

Photo: Heidi Greco

Heidi, Penn and Golden Boy, aka Hermes!  Photo: Mora Gregg

Heidi, Penn and Golden Boy, aka Hermes!
Photo: Mora Gregg

And THEN, the WAG.  The Winnipeg Art Gallery featured an exhibit of Classical Art… including the Muses.

Judy Rebick, several friends and I spend the evening looking out on the gardens where two more labyrinths are being dreamed into existence.

Thank you, Winnipeg, for your kind and generous hospitality… and for bringing back the Spring!

Penn

Photo: Deb Hill

Photo: Deb Hill

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Poem for Poet Colleen Thibaudeau

The Reaneys asked me to present the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award award at the League of Canadian Poets banquet in Winnipeg on May 30, 2015. I was delighted and honoured to present it to esteemed Saskatchewan poet Glen Sorestad, represented by Tracy Hamon. James Reaney recently wrote about Colleen and Glen Sorestad in his blog: http://blogs.canoe.com/brandnewblog/entertainment/glen-sorestad-wins-2015-colleen-thibaudeau-award-yay/.

Photo: Susan McCaslin

Photo: Susan McCaslin

There was a large turn-out, as the League event was combined with the Writers’ Union AGM. Colleen would have chuckled at the orange flower I wore in my hair for her!  Earlier, I read my poem dedicated to Colleen at the Feminist Caucus meeting. It was first published in Prairie Journal, Calgary, Alberta, Issue #57, Fall 2012.  Here it is now:

Recounted, ReStored, ReStoried

for Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney (1925-2012)

When Colleen called, voice crackled energy along the wire
as if we were on a Grey County party line in a snow storm.

She invited you to dance with words; her card was full.
Droll, a wit not acerbic but trolling for pertinent phrase.

Language tripped slyly over the page in play of possible,
not settled but including errant sound, all probable puns.

When home could include everything, how would she not
describe in gloried detail each strand of whole? Circuitous

Led straight to the point, a maypole of ribbon encircling
the sun, a sequence as consequential as spoken history.

Remember who was where and when and why. What did
happen. A matrilineage of friend and family lore never to

Be forgotten but transformed in each telling. The tail
coiled round itself till springing straight. Recall trolling

The midden of memory, reminded. She invited us over
to chat while with an attentive eye she would embroider

Lichen on bleak Grey County rock or lush green Elgin in
brushing hair away. More to tell from inexhaustible well.

She accumulated tales to blow them out as smoke ring,
leading you through her long alliterative spring garden.

Her genes are storyteller’s, Acadian and Irish shaped new
to be all the more accurately embellished with that gift for

Capricorn lateral leap across lacunae incomprehensible till
the story revealed itself so far, the scene laid out clearly.

Sea-green eyes in an Irish face observing, not to judge but
birdlike, leaping upon the treasure of salient particularity

Of poets and peers, the revered Norrie Fry or Macpherson,
Jay. Telling tales out of school, past university corridors,

Stories sped through alternative universe, spiralled beyond
galactic connection to return, spangled in original dress back

home, where we the recipients of kindness would drink tea,
reclaiming the smoke of ancestral aeons, and be welcomed.

Penn Kemp

The cover of Four Women, Red Kite Press, Guelph ON.

The cover of Four Women, Red Kite Press, Guelph ON.

Colleen and I are both in FOUR WOMEN, along with Marianne Micros and Gloria Mulcahy.  You can read more about Colleen and her poetry on http://colleenthibaudeau.com/, including a reading from FOUR WOMEN celebrating her.

I thought of Colleen when walking the labyrinth dedicated to Carol Shield. It was lilac season still…and I thought of Colleen’s lovely spring garden. Photo by Mora Gregg.

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I know Colleen would also have enjoyed this found poem for Sound Learning on a University of Manitoba stone wall.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Poem for Creative Age Festival 2015

Here’s the poem I read to open the grand Creative Age Festival, June 4, 2015, in the London Public Library Rotary Garden.

Photo: Kathy Smith

Photo: Kathy Smith

Double Vision, i

Age is the phase for integration as we enter
the violet sphere, embracing shadows in
whatever form they appear, welcoming all.
We wear our lives on our faces, to be read.

We have stood in bright glittering sunshine
long enough. We have given to the world
what the world required. Now we inquire
what we ourselves need to feel complete.

We enter understanding, standing under all
we have done, all we are. We rest in the full
spectrum of fulfilment, scanning the span of
a moment’s totality. Time out of time expands

to include our whole life, with its possibilities
realized or still potential, yet to be enacted,
expended to the rest remaining to us, doubling
to manifest or stay outstanding as life allows.

Now is when to remember just who we entered
this world to become. To gather, to recollect, to
recall, to weave into a basket of plenty and pass
our basket of us as bequest on, nest for the next.

None of our history is lost. It lives in the present
as presence. We are the legacy we leave and
that which we’ve received, stretching back over
generations. We hold in our palms the prints

of past, present and unknown epochs to come.
What brings us to wisdom, this transmission
of all we are? Our grandchildren might hear
what our offspring may not yet have learned.

For our wisdom to ripen, we need shelter, a
place that respects us so we may continue
to live the love that is antidote to fear, free
of want. Where we can reflect upon, reflect

back gleams of insight gleaned from living
well, unhampered. May we listen to our body.
Despite the indignities our flesh is heir to, we
attend to aches in organs hitherto unknown.

Photo: Marque Smith

Photo: Marque Smith

Double Vision, ii

Now we understand why old folks walk as
they do, not from choice, but because knees
don’t bend and ankles tend to give way. We
see our parents in the mirror and marvel at

the flight of time, knowing that inside we feel
thirty or forty max., on good days. We know
the limits our younger selves blithely ignored,
growing up, growing over the lump in our heart.

As we enter elderhood, may we burn up rather
than rust away, till we are entirely retread, ready
for whatever awaits. Retired, may we try again,
treating ourselves as well we need be treated.

May our inner weather be sun-dappled no matter
what. May we recognize in the mirror the others
that we were, as we are. May we elders be seen
as lineage-holders, holding the mirror for the next

generation down the line and on. May we be heard.

Penn Kemp

This poem was  published in Cautionary Tales: Giving Voice to the Elders (2015) for the League of Canadian Poets Feminist Caucus Archives.  The original version of “Double Vision” was commissioned by Gina Barber for the Age Friendly London Report.  It was recorded by Dennis Siren on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B8DOIfinOs.

Photo: Bernarda Norwood

Photo: Bernarda Norwood

Sound Learning!

“Reading and Workshop with Penn Kemp”

Saturday, June 6, 10:30 to noon.
Landon Branch Library (downstairs), 167 Wortley Rd, London N6C 3P6.

All welcome!

Come celebrate the culmination of our  Creative Age Festival London readings and workshops with me!

Photo: Kathy Smith

Photo: Kathy Smith

Free, sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Program Description:

Penn Kemp is an inspiring workshop presenter, poet, playwright, performer, activist and London’s inaugural poet laureate. After reading from some of her plays, Penn will lead us in exploring and developing characters through sound and image. In allowing our Muses to speak through us, we’ll be surprised at the unfolding process of new writing. Free. Drop in.

Photo: Deb Hill

Photo: Deb Hill

Reading sponsored by the Guild of Canadian Playwrights.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

https://www.facebook.com/events/1019743298045749/
https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/creative-aging-readings-and-writing-workshops/., http://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-lies-ahead-creative-age-readings-writing-workshops-with-penn-kemp-tickets-16177439156?aff=erellivorg.