Poems in Response to Peril (ed. Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski, Pendas Productions, 2022)

Our first review of POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, out today, and it is, of course, a discerning piece by Catherine Owen

Marrow Reviews by Catherine Owen

In the preface to this boldly and appropriately designed blue and yellow and sunflowered anthology of poems in support of Ukraine as the country enters its third month of this renewed attack and attempted devastation by Russia and its psychotic president, Vladimir Putin, the editors, Kemp and Sitoski, begin with the famous (and oft-misinterpreted line) from WH Auden’s Elegy for WB Yeats, “poetry makes nothing happen.” Then, of course, they ask, if this is the case, what can poets do in the face of injustice, threat, dislocation, horror? To this end, I prefer William Carlos Williams’ statements from a late poem, Asphodel, that Greeny Flower, in which he writes – “It is difficult to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.” These lines suggest the direction political poems can perhaps head towards in order to enlarge their potency, to steer clear of…

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Launch, Poems in Response to Peril: an anthology May 28 2pm Blackfriars Bistro, London ON

Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology of Canadian Poets on Behalf of Ukraine

A major anthology in support of embattled peoples

On Saturday, May 28, 2 pm, we are launching Poems in Response to Peril at Blackfriars Bistro, 46 Blackfriars St, London, ON N6H 1K7, (519) 667-4930. Local contributors will read their poem at the launch. All welcome to come listen, buy a copy and some treats from Blackfriars Bistro! 

Canadian poets Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski have co-edited Poets in Response to Peril, an anthology which brings together 61 poems by 48 of Canada’s most prominent poets in response to the current crisis in Ukraine and other perils afflicting our troubled times. Profits from the book will be directed toward PEN Ukraine’s efforts to provide the Ukrainian cultural community with evacuation and resettlement help.

Contributors like Gary Barwin, George Elliott Clarke, Kim Fahner, Tanis MacDonald, Daphne Marlatt and Goran Simić offer us passionate, often heartbreaking, poems invoking sunflowers and broken earth; intimacy and grief; falling bombs and the fragility of flesh; AK-47s and a bride’s bouquet. Gathering voices in the white heat of the moment, this anthology couldn’t be more timely or more necessary. The work of revered Ukrainian poet Dmytro Kremin is translated here by Russell Thornton and Svetlana Ischenko.

The book is part of a larger project, Poets in Response to Peril, which included a 3-hour international Zoom reading, now up on YouTube > Poets in Response to Peril). The Zoom featured more than 30 of the book’s Canadian contributors, expressing solidarity with those afflicted by war. An ongoing playlist of videos submitted by poets continues our work, 49 so far are up on https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists. Poets are welcome to submit their readings on the theme to our video curator, Richard-Yves Sitoski, at r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

For a deeper look at our process, take a look at https://poets.ca/a-gathering-of-poets-in-response-to-peril/https://pennkemp.substack.comhttps://www.inanna.ca/2022/04/18/gathering-voices-in-response-to-peril-penn-kemp-and-susan-mccaslin/.

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine, edited by Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski. (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press, May 2022, 121 pages). ISBN 978-1-927734-37-7

The book is now available for distribution. Cost: $25 at the launch. Thereafter, $30 plus postage.
To order, please contact Richard-Yves Sitoski at r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

Launch, Poems in Response to Peril

Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology of Canadian Poets on Behalf of Ukraine

A major anthology in support of embattled peoples

On Saturday, May 28, 2 pm, we are launching Poems in Response to Peril at Blackfriars Bistro, 46 Blackfriars St, London, ON N6H 1K7, (519) 667-4930. Local contributors will read their poem at the launch. All welcome to come listen, buy a copy and some treats from Blackfriars Bistro! 

Canadian poets Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski have co-edited Poets in Response to Peril, an anthology which brings together 61 poems by 48 of Canada’s most prominent poets in response to the current crisis in Ukraine and other perils afflicting our troubled times. Profits from the book will be directed toward PEN Ukraine’s efforts to provide the Ukrainian cultural community with evacuation and resettlement help.

Contributors like Gary Barwin, George Elliott Clarke, Kim Fahner, Tanis MacDonald, Daphne Marlatt and Goran Simić offer us passionate, often heartbreaking, poems invoking sunflowers and broken earth; intimacy and grief; falling bombs and the fragility of flesh; AK-47s and a bride’s bouquet. Gathering voices in the white heat of the moment, this anthology couldn’t be more timely or more necessary. The work of revered Ukrainian poet Dmytro Kremin is translated here by Russell Thornton and Svetlana Ischenko.

The book is part of a larger project, Poets in Response to Peril, which included a 3-hour international Zoom reading, now up on YouTube > Poets in Response to Peril). The Zoom featured more than 30 of the book’s Canadian contributors, expressing solidarity with those afflicted by war. An ongoing playlist of videos submitted by poets continues our work, 49 so far are up on https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists. Poets are welcome to submit their readings on the theme to our video curator, Richard-Yves Sitoski, at r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

For a deeper look at our process, take a look at https://poets.ca/a-gathering-of-poets-in-response-to-peril/, https://pennkemp.substack.com, https://www.inanna.ca/2022/04/18/gathering-voices-in-response-to-peril-penn-kemp-and-susan-mccaslin/.

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine, edited by Penn Kemp and Richard-Yves Sitoski. (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press, May 2022, 121 pages). ISBN 978-1-927734-37-7

The book is now available for distribution. Cost: $25 at the launch. Thereafter, $30 plus postage.
To order, please contact Richard-Yves Sitoski at r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

Eco-Poetry: Using the Arts to Celebrate the Earth

Saturday, April 30, 1-2:30 pm EDT  Zoom

Eco-Poetry: Using the Arts to Celebrate the Earth

Please join us tomorrow for a breath of fresh air, a breath of poetry and SPRING!

Host: Jennifer Chesnut, Environmentalist-in-Residence, London Public Library.

With special guest Penn Kemp, explore poems on the theme of Earth and create your own eco-poem. This reading and workshop is open for all levels of experience zoom.

Please click this Zoom link to join the program: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81787091382?pwd=a3FzSmJqMFhsN0hjSTJMWUU2WHlKQT09. You should not need it, but if you do, the Meeting ID for this event is 817 8709 1382 and the Passcode is 595825. The Zoom “Room” will open 5 minutes before the program begins. This program is being recorded. A prize draw is being held for participants of the live program. You can also register with your London Library card: 
https://www.londonpubliclibrary.ca/page/environmentalist-residence

These six poems are from Penn Kemp’s RIVER REVERY, Insomniac Press.
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/river-revery/9781554832385-item.html
“A Dazzling Multi-Media Response to Our Changing Climate:” https://arcpoetry.ca/2020/07/12/rim-revery-penn-kemp/. Thanks to Jennifer Chesnut for the invitation and the images!

Penn Kemp has been celebrated as a trailblazer since her first publication (Coach House, 1972). She was London Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate and Western University’s Writer-in- Residence. Chosen as the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist (2015), Kemp has long been a keen participant in Canada’s cultural life, with thirty books of poetry, prose and drama; seven plays and multimedia galore. See http://www.pennkemp.wordpress.com, www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

This event is sponsored by the City of London.  https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/have-eco-anxiety-librarys-new-environmentalist-in-residence-can-help.

Celebrating National Poetry Month and Plays

Upcoming April Readings Live and on Zoom

Thursday, April 7, 7pm ET: Zoom reading and discussion with Huron Literary Society at Western University to encourage young writers on Mental Health and Literature with Q & A. I Presenters Vanessa Brown, Penn Kemp and Yoda Olinyk. Contact: <lschwa22@uwo.ca>. Play-writing as an expression of hope and possibility. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Sunday, April 10, 2 pm ET: Live! Our theme is the environment and eco-poetry. London Open Mic, Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St N, London, ON N6B 3J5. I am launching P.S. (Gap Riot Press) https://www.gapriotpress.com/archive/penn-kemp-sharon-thesen-ps. I’ll read from my play THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS to celebrate this intrepid conservationist. Guest readers include Jennifer Chesnut, London Library’s Environmentalist-in-Residence; Richard-Yves Sitoski, Owen Sound Poet Laureate; Andreas Gripp and Jennifer Wenn.  My reading is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Contact: scryingsolo@gmail.comhttps://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-poet-driving-force-behind-new-anthology-of-poems-about-war-in-ukraine 

Sunday, April 10, 6:30 pm. Live! Pre-concert conversation with Jennifer Chesnut and Penn Kemp on environmentalism and the arts, on poetry and local conservation awareness initiatives.
7:30 pm. Earth Speaks: A musical meditation on our collective responsibility to the planet. Chor Amica, Patrick Murray, guest conductor. Performance of ecopoetry by Jennifer and Penn. Oakridge Presbyterian Church, 970 Oxford St. W. London ON N6H 1V4. $25. Contact: patrick@patrickmurraymusic.net. https://www.choramica.ca/concerts.html

Saturday, April 30, 1-2:30 pm EDT. Zoom.
Eco-Poetry: Using the Arts to Celebrate the Earth.  With special guest Penn Kemp, explore poems on the theme of the Earth and create your own eco-poem. This reading and workshop is open for all levels of experience.  Host: Jennifer Chesnut, Environmentalist-in-Residence. Sponsored by London Public Library and the City of London. https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/have-eco-anxiety-librarys-new-environmentalist-in-residence-can-help. Free. Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81787091382?pwd=a3FzSmJqMFhsN0hjSTJMWUU2WHlKQT09 

May (date TBA). Live! The Launch of Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press). Dedicated to the poets and people of Ukraine from 48 Canadian poets. Readers: Penn Kemp, Richard-Yves Sitoski, and local contributors to the anthology as well as surprise guests. We have 200 pre-orders. Keep ’em coming! Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology is 125 pages. $25 plus postage: order from r-sitoski@yahoo.ca. https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2022/03/21/poems-in-response-to-peril-an-anthology/

See too this essential anthology, Worth More Standing, https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/worth-more-standing.

Gathering Voices in Response to Peril

POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, our anthology with 48 Canadian poets in support of Ukraine, will be launched May 28, 2 pm, Blackfriars Bistro, 46 Blackfriars St., London ON! All welcome, an outdoor patio.

The anthology, all 122 pages, is out now and it is beautiful… a fitting tribute in solidarity with Ukraine!
Order from r_sitoski@yahoo.ca: $25 plus post till our launch on May 28, then $30 plus post.

POETS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, our Zoom on April 2, is now up, thanks to Richard-Yves Sitoski: h4. Truly a labour of love, from Canadian poets to Ukrainian poets and people. What a profound and poignant event, gathering 100 poets and participants coast to coast— holding fast for over three hours of words that we so needed to hear. Poetry is the ability to respond, and the poets did, in voices eloquently and powerfully expressed. This blog is intended to keep that community vibe flowing.

Part 1 of our zoom, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETCb_gHO0R4, features Penn Kemp, Richard-Yves Sitoski, Susan McCaslin, Svetlana Ischenko, Russell Thornton, Albert Dumont, Bänoo Zan, Celeste Snowber, Blaine Marchand and Marsha Barber.

The Zoom recording Part 2 is on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-XxPmrqMhE&list=PLDARA01MjoyW7WccH9j6yGtI3XZhcE0BD&index=43&t=18s. Featuring Caroline Morgan Di Giovann,i David Brydges, Diana Hayes, George Elliott Clarke, Charlie Petch, Harold Rhenisch, Jennifer Wenn, Karl Jirgens, Kate Braid, Katerina Fretwell, Kim Fahner, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Marianne Micros, Murray Reiss, Patricia Keeney, Peggy Roffey, Solo and RL Raymond.

Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkkLB2mso7E&list=PLDARA01MjoyW7WccH9j6yGtI3XZhcE0BD&index=45 . Featuring Richard-Yves Sitoski, Robert Girvan, Robert Priest, R. Pyx Sutherland, Sharon Thesen, Sheri-D Wilson, Susan McMaster and Akinlabi Ololade Ige, Susan McCaslin, Susan Wismer, Tanis MacDonald, Tolu Oloruntoba, Yvonne Blomer.

Kudos to Rico (Richard-Yves Sitoski), our indomitable host, along with Owen Sound Public Library!  Rico continues to gather our voices in poetry on https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists, 49 so far! Send your videos to him, r_sitoski@yahoo.ca. And please take a listen when you can, when you need to hear these poems. Here’s celebrating National Poetry Month, #npm22.

Attached is our cover for POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, designed by Rico.

Here’s to the community of poets! Gathering voices: so many ways of maintaining connection.
May the conversation continue! For updates, please see Gathering Voices, https://www.facebook.com/groups/PendasProductions.

And here’s my poem, “Toward”, written on the day of the Zoom: https://share.icloud.com/photos/0b2Kvbbwo24LY4DdFhsgtDt6g

May peace prevail, inner and outer,
Penn

Gathering Voices: poets and participants respond to our Zoom

A wonderful event! Still glowing from the sense of purpose generated when poets come together for an important cause. Poetry forever!
Marsha Barber

Thank you all so much for what was an amazing event. Penn, Susan and Richard for your dedication to this cause, and all the poets and audience. It was deeply moving.
Yvonne Blomer

– it was deeply moving, and healing.  Thank you all!
Kate Braid

It was an extraordinary afternoon hearing all the poets read, relating to these dreadful events in Ukraine. The strange thing is that I didn’t realize how I needed to hear the human reactions, responses poetically—Facing this issue head on (through poetry) is, to my mind, part of the eventual reconstruction of world community.
Holly (& Allan) Briesmaster

Richard/Penn: Congratulations on an impressive Zoom launch! Of all the Zoom events in the past few years i have attended this was the most high profile and meaningful with poets caring about the Ukrainian crisis. Plus so many other topics that they are passionate about. I am so heartened Canadian poets are deeply engaged in the tragedies of the day. I look forward to seeing the anthology and am proud that when the history of these times is written there will not be a blank page for the poets.
David Brydges

Today, I spent almost two hours in zoom poetry reading for “Poets In Response To Peril” as organized by Canadian Poet Penn Kemp. When the invasion of Ukraine began, she wanted to put together a chapbook, but instead, the outpouring of Canadian voices created a full-length book.. within days. 
This is a really remarkable and quick effort, and the reading had me in tears as a poetry and people lover.  My cat enjoyed the reading as well. 🙂
The proceeds of the book sales will go to PEN Ukraine.
Please consider purchasing this book in support of the voices of Ukraine and PEN Ukraine.  email inquiries and orders to:r_sitoski@yahoo.ca 
Sarah M. Daugherty

My sincere thanks to Penn and Richard and the Library Zoom meister for arranging a truly astonishing afternoon of poetry, coast to coast. It was an honour to take part. Our poems now go out like prayers to Ukraine and , sadly, other places in our world where people suffering in peril may find a measure of comfort in our words. Poetry does have power. With love,
Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni

Our time together yesterday reminded me of a statement I made years ago. This is it: “Time is the storage place of our memories. And the human heart is the storage place of our tears. I have gone to that place of memories and visited where tears are kept. What I retrieved was the notion that poetry is delightful to the human spirit.” I hope your Sunday is restful and emotionally uplifting.
Albert Dumont

Congratulations on this impressive mobilization of poetic force in support of our allies and fellow artists under attack in Ukraine.
Neil Eddinger

These poets…so amazing…all of them.
Kim Fahner

What an event dear Penn, and such variety and diversity and even Ukrainian spoken! Brava! A huge life-changing Poets in Response to Peril event. Brava/bravo Richard and Penn!! The variety, poignancy, astoundingly creative and delightful videos all contribute to a masterful, memorable production. 
Katerina Vaughan Fretwell

​We were particularly interested in your latest book since it also benefits those affected in the Ukraine. What a beautiful endeavour that helps shed light on the dreadful situation expressed with poetry. It is so beneficial and of course, our residents love reading poetry!
Rebecca Gee

Dear Penn, Rico, Susan and all who made this special event possible…It was an emotional gathering of coast-to-coast poets and poems and I was honoured to be part of the outpouring of love and grief and hope at this time of peril.
Here’s to peace and freedom indeed!
Diana Hayes

Dear Penn & Rico,
Warm thanks for hosting such a wonderful event! It was fabulous.
I know it took a lot of energy to do that. You’re culture heroes!
Excellent reading. — It came out great!
Good to see and hear so many supportive authors!
A strong reading set! — The book extends vital support of Ukraine while condemning war.
What a massive job. Your combined energies on the reading, video and book are deeply appreciated.
Here’s hoping that the war will come to an end soon. 
The world stands against the atrocities.
It is good that Canadian writers also stand against such martial aggression.
Thank you for it all,
Sunflowers for Ukraine) 🌼🌼 🌼
Karl Jirgens

And thanks dear heart for all your continuing efforts. I love that the whole project began with the conviction that poetry makes everything happen…in its time.
Patricia Keeney

Such an amazing project! I hope the blog post, the project (and the new book!) get lots of well-deserved attention and love!
Renée Knapp

Thank you  Richard-Yves Sitoski and Penn Kemp for all the work you put into Saturday’s very moving “Poets in Response to Peril” event. It felt like a teaser for the upcoming anthology. Now I can’t wait to read “Poems in Response to Peril”.
Mary Little

Wonderful initiative, great event. And thanks to you Penn, to Richard-Yves, to Susan McCaslin who worked so hard to bring it to fruition. Thanks to Tim for the technical support. A great gathering. Splendid poetry. Now people should purchase the Anthology and help support Ukraine. But it was great to feel a part of the poetic community this afternoon. I look forward to reading the anthology. There were many powerful, moving poems this afternoon.  
Blaine Marchand

Dear Penn & Richard,
Thanks to you both for collaborating on this wonderful and meaningful event. I hope more books orders flow in. Thanks for all you are doing to get more poets’ voice out to the public, Penn. And thanks for the links you are providing to preserve people’s responses to Saturday’s amazing event. The event continues opening in ever-widening circles!
Susan McCaslin

Yes, thank you Penn, Rico, Tim, Susan, and all of my fellow poets for a most intense and meaningful event. I’ll remember it!
Susan McMaster

One of the poets said that she was falling in love with the community of poets on the zoom. Certainly, it was a wonderful group of poets, both in terms of their poetry and also their humanity. In the midst of sorrow about the war, there was also much beauty in the poets’ words…The breadth and depth of the poems shared by the poets was emotionally moving. Thank you again for putting together such a phenomenal project.
Ola Nowasad

I would like to order a copy of Poems in Response to Peril. I attended the Zoom event on April 2nd and it was phenomenal.
Lisa Reynolds

That was a very rich and varied collection of poems and poets. A delight to be a part of the gathering. Well done, organizers. Thanks!
Peggy Roffey

Sorry Penn for not to be able to participate at event with my voice. I was just ear but not voice. Anyway, I already doing my best with colegues writer here in Bosnia to help some of Ukrainian writer to find temporarry home here in Sarajevo and to be evacuate with great help of German Goethe Institute. I hope I am doing right, aven I have Memory of myself rejecting to leave Sarajevo with my two Children on the beginnig of four years long siege of my city starting 1992.
All the best to you and friends making that event possible.
Goran Simic
Because of a poor connection from Bosnia, Goran was able to be with us only “by ear but not voice.” How ironic, because the voices of those who have known war need to be heard! As this conversation points out:
Dear Mr Simic, (And Everyone else…)
I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, but I do know of your fine work, and have just now read two of your poems, https://www.calvertjournal.com/articles/show/13065/poems-about-migration-love-and-war-by-bosnian-poet-goran-simic. It does not seem right that you could not share your voice at this event, particularly because in addition to your gifts as a poet, you are much closer in many ways to the bloody events unfolding in the Ukraine than many of us here.
Robert Girvan
Dear Robert, thank you for kind words about my poetry. I will be glad to record one of my poems to participate for video Message as Canadian/ Bosnian contribution of poets who alarm the world about attack on Ukrainian state, culture and history. All of my friends writers who survived siege in Sarajevo still feel alive the same scars watching destruction of city and civilians in Ukraina. But with pride for people not to give up struggle. I will do video asap because I spend most of my day on the hill keeping company to the four street abandoned dogs we adopted five years ago.
Goran Simic
Dear Goran,
Excellent! I look forward to seeing you and hearing your voice and words. The lucky ones who have not (yet) faced war, bow their heads to those who have endured it, and listen.
Robert Girvan
Goran has sent the video of his poem for https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists
I hope you do too. His greetings from Sarajevo and the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW1KSzzPQ9c&list=PLDARA01MjoyW7WccH9j6yGtI3XZhcE0BD&index=41.

I am still feeling the pleasure of seeing you in your great blue and yellow costume, and the 
 honour of being involved in the  hours of poetic tension that was so invigorating,  even in the perilous present.
Elizabeth Waterston

All I can say is
Thank you and love to you.
You are a great inspiration,
your spirit, insights and grace
encourage me, inspire.
Sheri-D Wilson

Please let me add my voice to those who have already thanked the organizers and all who attended yesterday’s reading.  It was indeed a marathon and, as one of the final readers, it was gratifying to see how many people hung in through the whole reading in an amazing outpouring of solidarity, support and yes, love. As Richard has noted, if even a fraction of that positive reverse-bomb energy intervenes in places in the world where people’s lives are torn by violence, we will have done our bit for peace and for the sustainable future of humanity. I look forward to receiving my copies of the anthology. 
Susan Wismer

The Cover Reveal!

April is National Poetry Month!

Here’s where I’ll be, celebrating poetry, poets, poems… and plays!

Saturday, April 2, 2pm ET: Zoom. You’re invited to attend Poets in Response to Peril, an online event in which poets from the anthology POEMS in RESPONSE to PERIL offer reflections and poems on the power and limitations of poetry in times of crisis. Registration: https://rsitoski.com/event-details/poets-in-response-to-peril. Featured poets are up on https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists. https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poets-are-talking-tough-and-their-words-make-a-difference.
“Shock and Disbelief”, two poems for Ukraine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqEczOl0OyQ&list=PLDARA01MjoyW7WccH9j6yGtI3XZhcE0BD

Saturday, April 2, 2:30pm ET: Zoom. In celebration of Ellen S. Jaffe, a video of reading my poem, “Homage to Ellen S. Jaffe, Poet”. Listen to it on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7cg9x23dv8&t=12.

Sunday, April 3, 1-2:30pm ET: Zoom launch of Season 8, Gap Riot Press! Launching P.S., my new collection of poetry in dialogue with BC poet Sharon Thesen. Details on https://www.gapriotpress.com/events. https://www.gapriotpress.com/events/gap-riot-season-eight-lunch. Available now for $10: https://www.gapriotpress.com/shop/p/penn-kemp-sharon-thesen-p-s! Zoom: https://trentu.zoom.us/j/96721250873?pwd=QkdLbTd2ZkkydzNZMUJhcnl3MldSQT09. Passcode: 504766

Thursday, April 7, 7-8pm ET: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/94561144196. Zoom reading and discussion with Huron Literary Society at Western University to encourage young writers on all aspects, esp. theatre. Focusing on my play, The Triumph of Teresa Harris, I will talk about writing as an expression of hope… and take questions. With presenters Vanessa Brown and Yoda Olinyk. Contact: Lauren <lschwa22@uwo.ca>. Reading is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Sunday, April 10, 2pm ET: Live! Our theme is the environment and eco-poetry. London Open Mic, Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St N, London, ON N6B 3J5. I am launching P.S. (Gap Riot Press) https://www.gapriotpress.com/archive/penn-kemp-sharon-thesen-ps. I’ll read from THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS to celebrate this intrepid conservationist. Guest readers include Jennifer Chesnut, London Library’s Environmentalist-in-Residence; Richard-Yves Sitoski, Owen Sound Poet Laureate; Andreas Gripp and Jennifer Wenn.  My reading is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Contact: scryingsolo@gmail.com. https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-poet-driving-force-behind-new-anthology-of-poems-about-war-in-ukraine 

Sunday, April 10, 2022, 7:30pm. Earth Speaks: A musical meditation on our collective responsibility to the planet. Chor Amica, Patrick Murray, guest conductor. Performance of ecopoetry and pre-concert talk with Jennifer Chesnut on poetry and local environmental justice, conservation, and awareness initiatives. Oakridge Presbyterian Church, 970 Oxford St. W. London ON N6H 1V4. $25. https://www.choramica.ca/concerts.html

Saturday, April 30, 1-2:30 pm EDT.  Eco-Poetry: Using the Arts to Celebrate the Earth.  London Public Library zoom. With special guest Penn Kemp, explore poems on the theme of the Earth and create your own eco-poem. This  reading and workshop is open for all levels of experience. London Public Library zoom. Host: Jennifer Chesnut. ​Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. Register with your London Library card https://encore.londonpubliclibrary.ca/iii/cas/login?service=https%3A%2F%2Fcatalogue.londonpubliclibrary.ca%3A443%2Fpatroninfo~S20%2F0%2Fredirect%3D%2Fiii%2Fprogramreg%2Fprogramreg.do%3Faction%3Dregister%26sectionId%3D1031692%26returnUrl%3D%252Fsearch~S20*eng%253F%252F.g1008371%252F.g1008371%252F1%25252C1%25252C1%25252CB%252Fframeset~g1008371%26scope%3D20%26lang%3DengIIITICKET&scope=20

Sat 30 Apr 2022 01:00PM-02:30PMOnline ProgramEco-Poetry: Using the Arts to Celebrate the Earth. With special guest Penn Kemp, this reading and workshop will explore poems on the theme of the Earth.

Sunday, May (date TBA), 2pm ET. Live! The Launch of Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology (Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven). London Open Mic, Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St N, London, ON N6B 3J5. Readers: Penn Kemp, Richard-Yves Sitoski, and other local contributors to the anthology as well as surprise guests. Of our 300 print run, we have 150 pre-orders. Keep ’em coming! Poems in Response to Peril: an Anthology is dedicated to the poets of Ukraine from 48 Canadian poets. My reading is sponsored by The League of Canadian Poets. Contact: scryingsolo@gmail.com.

and earlier…

Friday, March 25, 7pm: Live! The Aeolian Hall, London ON. I’m reading poems for peace and Ukraine, including this piece up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhDPMd4iqlI&t=10s at the benefit for Ukraine with Loreena McKennitt and so many more London artists!  https://aeolianhall.ca/events/ukraine-2. Livestream, 7pm ET: https://aeolianhall.ca/events/peace-livestream/. And up this auction, this guitar:

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology

Preorder now from r_sitoski@yahoo.ca!

Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology highlights the work by 48 of our most committed Canadian poets, responding to the current crisis in Ukraine and other perils afflicting our troubled times. These passionate, often heartbreaking, poems offer us sunflowers and broken earth; intimacy and grief; falling bombs and the fragility of flesh; AK-47s and a bride’s bouquet. This anthology couldn’t be more timely and necessary.

Poems in Response to Peril is 125 pages of poetry that describe what Penn Kemp calls “a sharing of community, of heart space. Such an outlet for despair helps us—both writer and reader— to become activists. The poems encompass the entirety of human emotions, written and published in the white heat of this moment in 2022. The videos of readings by our contributors will be linked by q.r. code in the book! You can see 40 readings now up on https://www.youtube.com/user/veggiemeister/playlists.

Poems in Response to Peril will be published in Spring, 2022 by Pendas Productions/Laughing Raven Press. Pre-orders are $25 plus postage. To order Poems in Response to Peril, please email Richard-Yves Sitoski, r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

 Here’s celebrating National Poetry Month with poems that move us to action! 

”Piercing Hearts: poets ‘are talking tough’ and their words make a difference”  The London Free Press, March 5, 2022, https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poets-are-talking-tough-and-their-words-make-a-difference.

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/PendasProductions/ 
www.pennkemp.wordpress.com
https://pennkemp.substack.com/publish?s=w.

Gary Barwin: Poetry Matters, from POEMS IN RESPONSE TO PERIL, Pendas Productions

Couplets and Cupcakes for Ukraine

What is the responsibility of poets in times of crisis? The ability to respond.

On April 2 at 2pm EDT, you’re invited to attend Poets in Response to Peril, an online event in which poets offer reflections and poems on the power and limitations of poetry in times of crisis. Registration: https://rsitoski.com/event-details/poets-in-response-to-peril…

Among our featured poets are Russell Thornton and Svetlana Ischenko. They will read from Poems from the Scythian Wild Field by celebrated Ukrainian poet Dmytro Kremin (Ekstasis Editions), first in Ukrainian and then in their English translation.  

We are also reaching out directly to Ukraine, at the request of an Ukrainian publisher “to inspire and give support”: https://anetta-publishers.com/pages/16.

Cupcakes
From Blackfriars Bistro & Catering: “In our commitment to support the Ukraine war relief, we will be donating 100% of the sales of our Ukraine Flag-inspired Cupcakes to the humanitarian relief efforts & fight against the Russian Occupation. You can pick-up cupcakes in our pantry/larder or pre order by calling 519-667-4930.” And they will send cupcakes too! See blackfriarsbistro.com, 46 Blackfriars St, London, ON N6H 1K7.  

Couplets
This poem was written for April’s National Poetry Month theme of “Intimacy”.

Our Kind of Intimate

What could be more intimate than
constant streaming on our screens,
images plastered on the occipital
nerve, imprinted, planted, permanent?

What more intimate than a tiny cell,
replicating green and reptilian-spiked,
one that multiplies in our bodies as
Covid spreads, as familiar Omicron?

What more intimate than a deep love
roping in family, friends, and foreign
faces on the Web to our known orbit?

In the knowledge that we are all one
multi-armed huge beast we call humanity.
backed for or against, wholly, alone.

What could be more intimate than
a marriage under siege, the bride’s
bouquet between her and him in
 camouflage, weapons at the ready?

A sharp pang of metal piercing flesh,
the rude intrusion of steel into bone.
Sounds haunting the bloodstream
linger along what once were halls

of the bombed maternity hospital,
children still under the walls, not to
speak of infants, mothers in labour.

What more intimate than the time
when thought coalesces into form
between pen and paper, text onto key
board? Before words arise and fall

in place, the sacred alphabet arranged
just so in orderly progression that never
before has taken shape, as the poem is
birthed? Its aftermath, crimson placenta

of relief, grief given way to gratitude
that something remains while entire
civilizations collapse and fall. The fall
resounding rings hollow down our ears.

In our time and beyond, throughout
the barriers of history being broken,
the current kind of intimate intimidates
us not into submission—but to action.

PK

And let us remember and respond to the many other crises ongoing in Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Myanmar and Congo:  https://www.rescue.org/article/top-10-crises-world-cant-ignore-2022.
And then there is climate change…

Arms And The Boy

In our time all the world’s worst
clichés are actualised in stark paradox,
explosive irony.

I am swimming in happiness
rain cocooning my window pane
when TV presents unfriendly fire
dropping smart bombs far-off.

I fall through the scream as if to land
among proud and elegant peoples
divided by civil, uncivil arms.

Dispossessed of the West they thought they knew,
dis/oriented, where do they turn?
Women and men cleaving, cleft, bereft.

City institutions crack under cloud cover.
The clans, the earth, rent in spring rain.
Shovels at a narrow grave.

The image that struck me most
was a fourteen-year-old boy,
just skin and bones. The men were
burying him when

crossed, his last gesture,
an ache up arms’ inner
two tears ran down his cheeks.

That boy survived but cannot speak.
Language is lost in war, though lies thrive.

PK

Blackfriars Bistro

Reads for International Women’s Day

This month, recommendations of women’s writing, with comments. In a time of loss and transition and the chaos of world crises, I’m having trouble organising, so I tend to read instead of writing or editing. A sometimes necessary escape these days. A book is so contained with its beginning, middle, and end. Covers we can close with a sense of accomplishment and of completion. I love how books weave around one other, sequentially, thematically, without my conscious intent. So grateful to London Public Library for their engaging and enticing collection! The dregs of winter: a perfect time for tomes and for poems.

Here’s my poem for IWD, “Choose to Challenge”: https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-poet-penn-kemp-marks-womens-day-with-call-to-action.

Recommended Reads for International Women’s Day

Angie Abdou, This One Wild Life: A Mother-Daughter Wilderness Memoir. In her dedication, Angie Abdou hopes the reader will receive the book like a long letter from a good friend. And it is: a sweet, endearing, sometimes heart-breakingly honest memoir. But earlier, the price of being so open was a devastating social media attack: Abdou describes the effects in this memoir of healing.  We learn what it is what Abdou plans to do with her “one wild and precious life”. During the Pandemic, it’s a lovely treat to hike in the mountains vicariously with her.  And oh, I loved her cottonwood!

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half. Many different ways of exploring identity and choice and choice’s consequences.

Natasha Brown, Assembly. Rachel Cusk, Sheila Heti and Bernardine Evaristo walk into a bar… and meet Natasha Brown. Assembly is honed stiletto-sharp, not a hair out of place, however the protagonist feels in classist, racist England. “Unfair”, whine the various white men who confront her in this short, perfect novel.

Sharon Butala, This Strange Visible Air: Essays on Aging and the Writing Life. Always brave, honest and necessary writing on ageism.

Clare Chambers, Small pleasures: a novel. So many charming pleasures: beautiful writing, engaging characters and utterly engaging plot.  A delicious read and reprieve from current events and dystopias.

Sadiqa de Meijer, The outer wards
Sadiqa de Meijer, Alfabet / alphabet: a memoir of a first language
. “Or was there an influence of origins at work, an onomatopoeic element with ecologically ambient sounds and forms giving rise to each language?”
“I tried to contain where the words went, but there are submerged forces in writing—in the land-water realms of consonant vowel—that require our surrender.”
“a sort of sideways drift has taken place among the words”
“The untranslatable is inherent in all intercultural contact, where its particles may accumulate and become tropes of otherness.”

Junie Désil, Eat salt / gaze at the ocean: poems
“scudding back and forth through history”
“There isn’t a pastness”

Cherie Dimaline, Hunting by Stars (A Marrow Thieves Novel). Harrowing but vital reading, beyond the pale: “a new cacophony was breaking in. It was just up ahead. Rose could feel it, cresting the audible edge of tomorrow. It was coming on dark wings, making short work of time and distance. And this would be the way they resisted. This would be the reclamation. This was the girl who would be loud.” Beware pale groupies!

Esi Edugyan, Out of the sun: on race and storytellinghttps://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-23-ideas/clip/15891798-cbc-massey-lectures-or-5-africa-art?cmp=newsletter_Ideas_5748_403481:
“In the 1800s, Black pioneers established themselves in Priceville, Ont., only to be eventually pushed out by European settlers. The only thing that remained of them was their cemetery.”

Louise Erdrich, The Sentence. Louise Erdrich herself reads the audiobook in a delicious rendition as funny as it is powerfully poignant. And the novel includes a bookseller called Louise! A ghost story that starts on Halloween 2019 and progresses through that annus horribilis till Halloween 2020: one long sentence of the present. Glorious!

Louise Gluck, Faithful and virtuous night
Louise Gluck, American Originality: Essays on Poetry. Essential and astonishing reading and re-reading for any poet and reader of poetry. “What remains is tone, the medium of the soul.”
“The silenced abandon of the gap or dash, the dramatized insufficiency of self, of language, the premonition of or visitation by immanence: in these homages to the void, the void’s majesty is reflected in the resourcefulness and intensity with which the poet is overwhelmed.”
“the use of the term ‘narrative’ means to identify a habit of mind or type of art that seeks to locate in the endless unfolding of time not a still point but an underlying pattern or implication; it finds in moving time what lyric insists on stopped time to manifest.”

Amanda Gorman, Call Us What We Carry. An astonishingly accomplished and moving collection.
The Muses, daughters of Memory inspire us.
“History and elegy are akin. The word ’history’ comes form an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘to ask.’” Anne Carson
Lumen means both the cavity
of an organ, literally an opening,
& a unit of luminous flux,
Literally, a measurement of how lit
The source is. Illuminate us.
That is, we too,
Are this bodied unit of flare,
The gap for lux to breach.”

Vivian Gornick, Taking a long look: essays on culture, literature, and feminism in our time. A good read for #InternationalWomensDay! In her memoir, Vivian Gornick, looking back on the feminist movement in which she was deeply involved, understands “what every good memoirist understands: that the writer’s own ordinary, disheveled, everyday self must give way to that of a narrating self — a self who will tell the story that needs to be told.” #IWDBell Hooks, All about love: new visions. “Love invites us to grieve for the dead as ritual of mourning and as celebration… We honor their presence by naming the legacies they leave us.”

Lauren Groff, Matrix: a novel. “Visions are not complete until they have been set down and stepped away from, turned this way and that in the hand.” Loved this celebration of mediaeval visionary abbess, Marie of France!

Joy Harjo, Poet warrior: a memoir
In these quotes, you can experience her voice directly as written:
“And the voice kept going, and Poet Warrior kept following no matter
Her restless life in the chaos of the story field.”
“Every day is a reenactment of the creation story. We emerge from
dense unspeakable material, through the shimmering power of
dreaming stuff.
This is the first world, and the last.”
“The imagining needs praise as does any living thing.
We are evidence of this praise.”
“When you talk with the dead
You can only go as far as the edge of the bank.”
“Frog in a Dry River”

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko. Fascinating depiction of a war-torn Korean family saga, now filmed. All too relevant still.

Maggie Nelson, On Freedom. I’m listening to Maggie Nelson ON FREEDOM ironically, given Canada’s situation and the loss of innocence in that word’s current associations.

Molly Peacock, Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door.
A lovely study of painters and painting. Tonalists “connected light both to emotions—and to the sounds of emotions. Using musical vocabulary, like nocturne or symphony, they suggested that emotions could be heard through paint”. “tap into childhood to find the ‘transitional object;” as D.W. Winnictott calls it: “‘Our first adventures into reality are through the objects” with “vitality or reality of [their] own.”

Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness by one of my favourite writers.

Charlie Petch, Why I Was Late
To be performed with dulcimer.”
“Things You Didn’t Know about Me”
Self-referential and fun. Performative poems, as in The nerves centre but stronger.

Angela Szczepaniak, The nerves centre. A ten-act cast of characters: poetry in performance, poet performing! A study of anxiety, her titles from self-help with dramatis personae. My fave: Mime Heckler. Utterly uttered!

Lisa Taddeo, Animal: a novel is a ferocious diatribe against male sexual violence. Since the book is dedicated to her parents and she lives with her husband and daughter, I wondered about the story behind the novel.

Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise. Nicely structured fin de siècle tome, over three centuries, based on Washington Square and similarly named characters not to mention Hawaiian royalty. Deja vu, David Mitchell!

Zoe Whittal, The Spectacular. Three generations of women negotiating current, changing times.  It’s complicated, very. Spectacular, if you’re 21.  I’d have liked much more from the oldest woman but it’s a long novel as is. Reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue.

Joy Williams, Harrow. Harrowing indeed, and disjointed.
“a sacred grove, a temenos. It had once meant asylum and within it was asulos—the inviolable. It protected what was within and excluded that which was without.”
Kafka’s hunter, “Gracchus, the literal expression in a concrete image of an abstraction.”

The Matrilineal Lineage. Photo: Amanda Chalmers

To remind us of spring…