Wonder Woman

My granddaughter is going as Wonder Woman
for Halloween. She’s practised swinging her
Lariat of Truth so I’m reading up on Artemis,

protectress of young girls and the archetype for
our current Wonder Woman. Arrow to hand, she
alights on the mark, drawing her bow on intruders.

Artemis herds young artoi, girls of eight or so away
from polis, the city, into wide, wilder woods where she
reigns Queen and they her willing apprentices stay

snared till puberty. Artoi, little Bears, they follow
their Great Bear into the chase and Orion hides,
the hunter hunted and flung out to constellation.

My granddaughter will go trick or treating and
return with a gleeful sack full of eternal returns.

Such small cosy comforts subside as the year slips
at an entrance to enchantment, the larger dark
that awaits us all. And the Greater Bear grins.

Penn Kemp

A poem for apples

This poem appeared in http://trainpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/2020/10/poem.html


for Harold Rhenish

“Golden apples of the sun”
wrote Yeats and he
might have described these.

Okanagan apples, tinged red,
descend from one Golden
Delicious, sparking
sensation among taste, touch
and aroma.
on the tongue between
sweet and ever so
slightly sour.

Hinting mystery.


Old tales tell of tainted apples, tempting.
Not just to eat the fruit proffered by
Serpent or Lilith for the tree
of knowledge.


But tantalizing too. “Who is fairest
of them all?”

Maleficent clings to beauty’s power
and poisons that
upstart Snow White, offering
her the apple
no-one could


Eris, goddess of Discord, cunningly
labels her golden apple “For
the Most Beautiful”.

And sits back
laughing to await
the display.


Three goddesses swarm to
claim their prize from Paris, Prince
of Troy.

               Hera, Athena
and Aphrodite, goddess of Beauty—

she who promised Paris the
loveliest woman in the world—
how could he not
award her the trophy?

Miffed, the rejected ones revenge
themselves on Troy, ongoing
for a decade and more.


The apple still belongs
to Lilith, to Venus/Aphrodite.

Open one
sideways and her emblem
is revealed, splayed
in a star circle of five seeds.


“As seen from above, the orbit
of Venus forms a near-perfect
pentagram, with the five lobes”

Tell me how the ancients gathered
such correspondence. Tell me how
the apple tree knows.

How seeds drop to the earth and some

Poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has been celebrated as a trailblazer since her first publication of poetry by Coach House (1972). She was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate (2010-13) and Western University’s Writer-in-Residence (2009-10). Chosen as the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist (2015), Kemp has long been a keen participant/activist in Canada’s cultural life. Recent tiles include P.S. (with Sharon Thesen, Fall 2020); Fox HauntsLocal HeroesRiver Revery and Barbaric Cultural Practice.

Penn Letter for October 2020

How to reach out in these pandemic times? Poetry will see us through.
I’ve been publishing, perhaps in compensation for social isolation.

New Published Work

Choice, for Harold Rhenish, Train Poetry Journal. http://trainpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/

For bpNichol

Shaking his mane,
holding his pain, he
roars with yellow
toothed laughter so
large it spills over
into song; birds

catch the drift and
carry on all measure
beyond any known
syntax into currents
contemporary all

Echolocations Magazine #18, October 2020.  And for the strangest tribute to bpNichol ever:  https://www.instagram.com/tv/CF0fI3tA1ef/?igshid=5unlmzn1xl97 @ 52.15. https://www.echolocationmagazine.com/

A Short History of Epiphany            

And what might the difference have been
if Three Queens came bearing gifts…“An
evolutionary epiphany,” Susan declares.

Imagine if the Queens came first, only to be
superseded by three patriarchs bearing gold
(the capitalists); frankincense (down a long
church history of swinging censors); sticky
myrrh (more generally used in embalming.)

Imagine what the Queens would deliver.
Hot water, hot soup, clean clothes, diapers.
Compassion, blankets, a room key to the Inn.

for Susan McCaslin and Katerina Fretwell

The Choice to Take… or to Receive: Bounty

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">                                <em> For Lynne and for our beloved Elders</em>                                 For Lynne and for our beloved Elders

Having found the elderberry bush at the time of ripening berries, you
and I return with buckets and scissors, even a step ladder. Round and
round the bush we go, stripping the tendrils of the tender black globes.

What jelly or cordial or jam they’ll make! I pull down higher branches
for you, till one lashes you in the face. Berries at the crown are the most
luscious, gleaming inaccessibly in full sun. How to reach the unreachable?

In our haste to collect as many umbels as we can, we trample surrounding
Jerusalem artichokes, goldenrod and jewelweed despite their sweet blooms.
Transgressing, we snatch the fruit rather than asking the bush’s permission.

That night, we spend hours separating poisonous stems and leaves from precious
fruit. You make jelly; I an elderberry crumble, both exquisite. But when we meet
next day, we realize our greed in grabbing rather than receiving such abundance.

So we return with sage and sweetgrass to smudge the bush and recite Green Tara
mantras, asking forgiveness. Elder has recovered overnight from our ravishment—
unripe umbrellas are fully ripe. The bush appears to offer them freely this time.

“List List”, Sad Girl Review, Issue 5, www.sadgirlreview.com.


“Wishing Well” has been selected from nearly 2000 submissions by the programme commission to be a part of the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. The ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival will be taking place from 19 to 22 November 2020 in the Kino in der KulturBrauerei in Berlin. You can see Mary McDonald’s animation and my text on https://riverrevery.ca/text-of-river-revery/wishing-well/!


Here’s the update of my work of Playwright Biography Project: https://cwrc.ca/islandora/object/cwrc%3A53bf983f-2025-4c27-ae1e-86ddb0e11645, August  2020.

I invite you to my Page, http://www.facebook.com/pennkemppoet. Please do join my Facebook groups, Support & Promote Canadian Arts & Culture http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=27449691026, where you can post Canadian events! & Gathering Voices, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3992303404. Also we can connect on http://www.twitter.com/pennkemp and http://www.linkedin.com/pennkemp.