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,

Penn

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.

*A TREE-POEM-A-DAY to protect our Ancient Ecosystems*


This month of September, Daniela Elza  is sending a Tree Poem a Day to BC Premier, the Prime Minister, and select Ministers and MPs calling on them to work across party lines to protect Ancient Ecosystems and to protect the peaceful forest defenders at Fairy Creek, BC.

Dear Premier Horgan, Prime Minister Trudeau, Ministers, MPs, current and future MLAs,

It will take extraordinary vision and concerted effort on many fronts to stop our province and country from burning and to combat the climate crisis. But fighting the old-growth forest defenders and protectors is not one of them. 

In a recent Globe and Mail article Grand Chief Phillip said, “You can’t simply parcel this off as an Indigenous cultural rights issue. You can’t parcel it off as an economic issue. You must remain focused on the fact that old growth forests in British Columbia are at the point of extinction. We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect them.” 

I am a writer and educator who spent the last pandemic year writing tree-poems with my students. They had many questions I could not answer. Our policies do not make sense for the bold action we need to take today to preserve our life support ecosystems. I have to ask: WHY? 

Studies out of UBC say: “Trees are the most efficient air conditioner we’ve got”. [https://beyond.ubc.ca/fighting-climate-change-through-our-urban-forests/] In our urban environments this has become particularly urgent in the heat waves. In other words, stop cutting down our most efficient cooling systems on the planet. At Fairy Creek the machines are lining up to resume the ancient tree massacre. WHY?

I am sending you a tree-poem-a-day this month to inspire you to implement policies that will protect our Fairy Creeks, our home, our ancient forests on the verge of extinction, our children, and their future. 

Just like the housing crisis (enabled by policy) is manufacturing homelessness at unprecedented rates, destroying our ecologies is rendering many species homeless and extinct. 

This month the injunction at Fairy Creek will be reviewed and we are going back to the polls. Please commit to more than words. Stop the ancient forest logging, protect the people who are peacefully protecting the ancient ecosystems at Fairy Creek against police violence and violations. Stop policing our right to clean air, diverse ecology, and our chances for survival.

Instead, put these efforts and funds into a vision we can all gather around. Work across parties, across provinces, and across borders. The planet knows no boundaries, or political divides. 

I hope these poems give you inspiration, and the courage to protect the natural wealth we are abusing and losing.

To destroy what is irreplaceable is to steal from the future. 

DAY 9 –  Today’s poem comes from poet activist and London’s inaugural Poet Laureate Penn Kemp, who has believed in the sentience of trees forever and especially in the ongoing, essential presence of old growth forest.

Kind Regards, 

Daniela Elza Vancouver, BC————-

Poem for the Fairy Creek Elders

by Penn Kemp

When Buddhist monks ordain the great Cedar
no axe can approach, none can wield harm.
May we too wrap saffron ribbon round
the girth of beloved ancients. If only symbol
would suffice to protect the great ones.

We breathe trees, their life-giving air and atmosphere.
Until trees breathe us, how can we speak for them?
In protest, we appeal nonetheless, we demand, we assert.
In spirit, I join the seniors who arm in arm surround
the old ones who witness millennia along the watershed
unless their slow heartbeat in heartwood is stopped.

Cardboard cut-outs crafted into trees are planted on
the Legislature lawn, though simulacrum can never
present the magnificence of old-growth forest.
Who can halt this unacceptable harvest of living deities, 
these trees who are the elders of the oldest among us?


And this pine from Southwestern Ontario:

*A TREE-POEM-A-DAY to protect our Ancient Ecosystems*

Thank you!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gavin-and-penn

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. https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/belanger-our-poet-laureates-financial-plight-and-a-call-to-help…

Dear friends set up this https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gavin-and-penn:

“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

Thank you!
Thank you!