Two poems: a taste of SPRING in two tongues

translated by Miguel Nenevé

Little

warblers no larger than
leaves emit songs louder
than I could bellow—
yellow in green bush
flickering in May mist
spectral among primary
mysteries of spectrum—
a chlorophyll trance
induced by light seduction.
The tree enticing light,
the water entrancing light.
The light mirrored and then
refracted into river shadow
where carp or suckers flurry
under the bent-over willow.
Green smugly shines forth
having eaten pure light, its
rare performancerenewed
when spring aligh ts again.

from Penn Kemp’s River Revery @InsomniacPress

Pequenina

Corruíra, não maior que
as folhas, emite músicas mais altas
do que eu poderia berrar
amarela no mato verde
cintilando na névoa de maio
espectral entre mistérios
primários do espectro—
um transe de clorofila
induzido pela leve sedução.
A luz cativanteda árvore,
a luz fascinante da água.
A luz refletida e depois
refratada na sombra do rio
onde carpas ou ventosas se agitam
sob o salgueir o inclinado.
O Verde brilha presunçosamente
tendo absorvida luz pura, sua rara
atuação renovada
quando a primavera voltar a brilhar
.

Muito obrigato, Miguel!

Penn by Miguel 112019 Killaly
                                                                    Photo: Miguel Nenevé at Killaly Meadows

Rose A Rose

Rose, Dante
knew, leads you
through
Paradise, a
walled and trellised
garden
I thrive on you
rose, your word
arousal
from earth up
you rose and still
you spring
                                  Penn Kemp

LEVANTOU-SE UMA ROSA

(tradução Miguel Nenevé)
A Rosa, Dante
sabia, te guia
pelo
Paraíso, um
jardim cercado
com treliças.
Eu me inspiro em você
aflorando
da terra
rosa, estímulo
à palavra
você se levanta
e salta em prima
vera
Gavin Penn 12020

On Reading the Exotic, the Other, in a Palindromic Month

Notes on Reading 02/2020

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The water dancer
Alexander McCall Smith, To the land of long lost friends
Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
Téa Obreht, Inland
Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens
Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel

/////////

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The water dancer celebrates the power of story and lineage.

What better way to begin Black History Month than with this powerful novel! To be read along with Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. Brilliant, immersive, majestic, magic.

“But knowing now the awesome power of memory, how it can open a blue door from one world to another, how it can move us…can fold the land like cloth… I know now that this story, this Conduction, had to begin there on that fantastic bridge between the land of the living and the land of the lost.”

“I understood Conduction, understood it as a relay of feeling, assembled from moments so striking that they become real as stone and steel”

///////////////

Alexander McCall Smith, To the land of long lost friends

Listening to Alexander McCall Smith’s To the land of long lost friends, I’m conflicted. The easy charm, the delicious accents with rolling r’s, the satisfyingly happy endings, the morality: yes. But the characters are tropes out of Little Black Sambo. When I was five, this forbidden book was my favourite; I read it to my dolls off by heart, loving the exoticism, the bright colours, the adventures… and the pancakes! How do we recognize colonialism in ourselves? I know Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa.  Would he recognize his lightly white-washed stories in present-day Botswana?

///////

Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
Téa Obreht, Inland

Inland is the better novel by far, though the characters are stock in both. The landscape moves from “the former Yugoslavia” (which always suggests Serbia) to the American West of the past. Here’s Obreht has capture the feel of the land, and dialogue. Both novels rest in a mythic premise, a fascination with folkloric beasts.

///////////

Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens

A gentle read twinning two sisters, two countries. So refreshing to read a deeply felt story where the turmoil is internal, not political nor ecological. Though wolves are involved!

/////////”

Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel

What’s not to love on a blustery winter day? Astrology! Epithets for each chapter by Blake! The unreliable narrator a madly determined old woman, as ferocious as she is tender. And does she love animals!

penn-1950

A poem for today’s palindrome: 02022020

Forecast for February, 2020

Today’s palindrome is 02022020,
perfect for Groundhog Day, Bill
Murray’s film of nearly eternal return!

All the groundhogs agree on early
spring, their vision 20/20 in new snow.
We mark the myth with earth magic.

O whistling pig! Spot this quarter turn.
Persephone, goddess of flowers, returns
today in Greece. Here, she wears thick

brown fur and burrows up through feet
of snow to determine with a nod whether
winter will soon surrender to spring or

not. A quick survey and she ducks back
down the cold tunnel of time into long
distant mythic dream. We don’t know

what the groundhog dreams when she
scurries home to her warm, hushed den.
Edible flowers from my garden, I bet.

Or the security in curling round herself
as her squirming pile of pups blindly
snuffles, eyes unnecessary in the dark.

Mary now purified, free of confinement
shows forth her babe. Forty days respite
in temenos, in shelter, and they call that

impure. The labour in giving birth impure!
Longer light at last starts to awaken her.
Goddess has recovered to hold her child.

Persephone in Hades eats the pomegranate
that ensures her return: red, translucent and
succulent fruit seeds, cased in possibility.

She changes from Crone to Maiden once
more and always, grieving Mother consoled,
together to celebrate the Feast of Torches.

We lay out scarves for Brighid’s blessing on
outer evergreen boughs. We retrieve white
cloths next morning from beneath topknots of

soft snow that fell all night, consecrated when
Brighid passed over. Her snowdrops here are
snowflakes dropped one by one into many.

Imbolc in the Mother’s belly when ewes lie
near to lambing, drawing milk for a wan sun
on the grand cross: eagle, lion, human, calf.

Initiatory dreams score a long night’s rest.
We celebrate Imbolc, fire festival between
solstice and equinox on the year’s wheel.

Penn Kemp

Some Talk Magic coverAmandaUlasnowhill2014

​Mothers and Daughters and Mothers and Daughters

My poem for you, in the beauty of new snow…

Grazing the Face of Climate Change: a poem

#barbaricculturalpractice @QuattroBook
The cedar the bohemian
wax wings twitter among
bare boughs on their way
warmward.
Envy emulates flight,
lights desire, douses
doubt in fiercer certainty.
Icarus stretches his fine
new wings, disarmed by
possibilities plus.
“Beware the wax, my son.
It cannot last in the face of
strong Sun shine.”
No fear. Bright day beckons.
“I’m on my way and who will
gainsay the path to glory, glory!”
Damn the consequence, o’erweening teen.
Between between the elements.
High performance art starts here.
Raising mighty arms he flaps. He flies.
Close, warming his face. Oh, the glow!
Pride bursts, sun bursts, sun grazing.
Rising solar flare— sudden glare incipient—
may might may not
Bright implausible wings dim before
a brighter sun, too close.
Closer. Losing altitude, attitude
Lost.
Farther from father info free fall.
(Hubris, they will say in that all-knowing future.)
The fall, falling. Spring springing.
A flutter of feathers catching the light light on the surface.
Follow their fine drift on the wind, winding down
through sub-lunar splendour onto sea sparkle.
Living sphere, Facing fear too late on a sea of metrics.
Facing ob- livion. (Immortal eyes can not cut it).
Dead last. Death lasts forever. Ever more.
Reflect, refract, reflect again and loss a gain.
Free to fail only once and then no longer
No longer boy but myth.
Penn Kemp201709 hyacinth flower
Photo: Mary McDonald

Pendas Productions

Pendas Pan            Since our first production of Penn Kemp’s play in 1977, Pendas Productions has been developing multimedia works, often in collaboration with other artists and art forms. Our micro publishing company in London ON has produced plays, CDs, DVDs of sound opera, as well as hand-made art books of poetry, art and drama, often in combination with CDs. The company started in 1977 with the production and publication of Kemp’s first play, The Epic of Toad and Heron (Black Moss Press), a drama written to save Toronto Island homes. Pendas continued with poetry/cd combination books, featuring more than twenty authors and producing anthologies in several languages.

Pendas published 136 translations of Penn’s “poem for peace” in two volumes, with CDs. Our literary magazine, Twelfth Key, begun through London publisher Applegarth Follies, continued from 1976 in twenty issues, often of Penn’s workshops and students’ writing. Twelfth Key culminated in 2005 with an anthology and CD of Pendas Poets.

For the last decade, Pendas Productions has collaborated with Saby Siren Productions in producing several videopoems for Penn Kemp’s poetry as well as documentation of numerous live performances of her larger works. Our collaborations have been generously supported by the London Arts Council.

“Translation”, a videopoem with Dennis Siren, 2019:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMqzgfLJtws&t=22s

“Among the Parasols”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, q.r. code in RIVER REVERY. https://youtu.be/uomD6YEVkLo

“Heart P’Art”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, https://youtu.be/tqnwecUmSHI

“Between Between”, with Dennis Siren, 2019, https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm#sent?projector=1

April 2018. Launch of Local Heroes: video by Dennis Siren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-zCVUjonwk

Video by Dennis Siren: Couplets#15: November 2017, London. Featuring Penn Kemp & Marta Croll-Baehre. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKiUCHy_Hjs&feature=youtu.be

PennandDenn Collection #1, 2016: Five Eerie Pieces
“On the Other Hand of Time”
“From Dream Sequins”
“Heart P’Arts”
“Between Between”
“For Me It Was Foxes”

“In the Words of Penn Kemp”, 2012

Dennis Siren’s Arts Doc Compilation. Penn: 20.46-26.25, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDa2HF6YDAM

Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera performed at Aeolian Hall in 2009 with Anne AnglinRuth DouthwrightBrenda McMorrowRobert Menegonini, video by Dennis Siren

PoemforPeaceVol2BerniceVincentpaintingVocal Braidings.hmtb.front cover.200gatheringvoicesbanner

from Goddess Pages

Calling on Persephone

by Penn Kemp

A little early for Persephone to return
but how enticing is this pomegranate!
No wonder she was tempted to indulge!

https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/calling-on-persephone-by-penn-kemp/

Pomegranate

Blessed be the lost ones, those who
left, in our opinion, too soon, whose
time, they say, had come. Blessed

be those whose lives have stopped
in their current form, the bodies we
know and miss. For it’s we who are

lacking, not they. Either they don’t
know any more or their essence has
dissolved to some fuller| plenitude

we too will come upon in our time.
Only the Goddess knows for sure
if we listen, if we reach out to Her.

Calling on Persephone, as seasons
darken, as night falls into autumn:
Take care of those we have lost.

*

As we age, the living dead increase,
surround us with presence, with gifts
of their kind, on offer if we realize

they are ongoing, just out of earshot,
beyond tangential vision. Out there,
behind you to one side, they linger

friendly—don’t worry— and ready
to offer advice, offer warning, offer
remarks that reflect a wider gnosis:

Archetypes of what they could have
become, given time or opportunity.
My friends, our dead are listening.

May be as memories fleshed real or
may be as hallucinatory flashes from
some other realm: does it matter?

Now that they are really no longer
matter but transcorporeal illusion,
their words, their nudges and sighs,

they still comfort us, familiar whiff,
where the senses condense off-stage
then expand beyond the peripheral.

*

May we bring their attributes to life
within us. For Persephone’s love
of flower, to surround Her in kind.

She will return; She always does, to
turn the wheel, to begin once more,
speaking the words of consolation.

May we live that gentle beauty for
her, ongoing. May She who loves
blossoms bloom again in our eyes

as we admire a purple pride of fall
garden. May Her essence enter us.
May we become what we might.

May She remember and remind us,
Mnemosyne, Goddess of memory,
inventor of the language we need

now more than ever. Speak to us.
Tell us the news in the old way we
once knew. Keep in touch, please.

©Penn Kemp

Poem for Solstice Night

All Things Considered

q. altered mss
On the shelf inside the storm, an empty
pitcher of light awaits sage and summer
savory.  All puns are planted to present

these things as if saying were enough
to conjure the perfect illusion illuminated.

Now.  At the turning of the year after
nadir of deepest darkness, the small
Moon of Long Night turns to beam
over the orchard above the frozen lake.

The sun stands Solstice still, holding
its breath, biding its time until released
to start once more in utter clarity of cold.

In that perilous moment before cycles
start up again, we all can fall through
cracks.  Interstices of ice drag us down.

We grope from dusk to dark to light.
We slip between stars, drawn out
beyond what we know, considering,
considere, to be with the luminary.

Night rustles outside our window, murmurs
and squeaks.  Whimpers follow outraged
raccoon yowl.  Orange and black streak

across the dark pane I can’t see through
conjuring night creatures’ obscured world,

Scent leads a trail to territorial war, deep
enmities nurtured throughout the long wee

hours before dawn lifts that velvet cloth to
reveal grey, seeping shade back to clarity.

Penn Kemp

*

The last lines of this poem were first published in “from Dream Sequins” with drawings by the brilliant Steven McCabe. See his gorgeous https://poemimage.wordpress.com/.

Yours, for Hallowe’en

Le Revenant

Appropriately, this piece was published on the Full Moon of October 5, 2017. Editor Aurora Stewart de Pena.

http://towncrier.puritan-magazine.com/ephemera/revenant

And I’m posting Le Revenant here on Friday, the 13th of October:)

Jake bike Island 2017 SUN

Le Revenant

“During a Lunar Eclipse conscious concerns overcome unconscious drives and the 3-D overrides the Dream Time. Of course, it’s not really possible to stifle, squelch, hold back, deny, or suppress the unconscious for very long without experiencing a psychosis of some kind.”

October 28th, late. Tonight there is a total eclipse of the moon. It is not at first visible. But as the night progresses, overcast clouds scatter, scudding across the mackerel sky, blown by a strong westerly. In a long cotton nightdress, I lie back for the spectacle on a long white deckchair. The full moon is revealed momentarily just at the height of the eclipse. A silver rim, a palimpsest of its usual silver dish. At first I think it is covered by cloud, but the earth shadow remains on the moon face like a bruise that won’t go away. Earth hides reflected light. I too am without reflection down below. No mirror but immersed, watching my own silvered, slivered shadow cast on the lawn chair. The eyes play tricks.

The full moon seemed to be oblique. The colours astonish: red swirls on the bottom and complementary green on top, curving round. Rose-red flashes along the rim of the moon. Brightness edges away the shadow, gently persistently pushing it back to the right. The clouds disperse; a planet appears in the sky just above the moon. We are edging toward Halloween and I drift into preparatory dream…

My academic cousins have invited us over for a seminar on ghosts. We crowd into the cramped living room of a cabin. They tell me in hushed tones that their mother has just died. I hadn’t known my aunt was ill but she’s a great age. Is that her, stretched out the draped kitchen table they’ve fixed up as her bier? Her face is hidden by the grey cobweb of shroud but I recognize the sharp outline of her nose. I choose a seat on the sofa where I can observe the corpse opposite. Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier grin at me from couches across the room. They are both making notes on poetics for the occasion. At the podium, the professors take turns in an animated, pedantic discussion that focuses more on city waterfront than on the ghosts that were supposed to be their subject.

Scanning the cabin, I spot only one ghost on site, and he’s a desiccated old mummy hanging in a wall cabinet like a worn, discarded suit. There’s no time for any other speeches but the ongoing drone of professors when the service is abruptly over. Even now, as we walk past the zoo to our cars, my relations are still vying for our attention, boasting with civic pride about the proposed new developments in their city. Lorna waves goodbye as we head off in different directions to our respective towns.

In the dream, I’m disappointed because I’d come prepared to talk about my encounter with ghosts. After reading Bram Stoker when ill at fourteen with a high fever, I’d hallucinated. For three days running, at 4 pm, when my temperature was highest, a black cloud would roll out from the electrical outlet outside my bedroom. The cloud would rise and condense into a tall figure in evening dress, riding on a wave of blood that threatened to engulf me. Impervious to the scarlet roll of the breaker, Dracula rode toward me, intent, his imperious eyebrows furrowed. No gentleman, he. But before he got to me, I’d fainted.

By morning, the October yard is golden with teardrop birch leaves and the heart-shaped redbud. The unknown yellow flowers, something between a sunflower and a bolted lettuce flower, continue to bud and blossom. The bees are encouraged, returning for more and more, but slowing under the weight of pollen and the cold. Goldfinches sway on the forlorn and desiccated stalks, seeking the last black seeds from sunflower heads. Late goldenrod rise determined to flower in this unprecedented warmth. Even the surprised forsythia blossoms along the new branches, fooled by the slight frost a few weeks back into thinking this is spring. As does the careless primrose, with its circlet of magenta around a golden centre. And the last daisy, day’s eye. Give me your answer, do.

We have shifted along the spectrum toward light, despite the darkening days. September was the entire spread of red, with its roses, fuchsia, chenille plant and morning glories. A generosity of geraniums. Tomatoes and peppers began to blush. Firm tomatillos burst their lantern skin alongside a passion mix of osteospermum. And early Christmas cactus bursts against the deep splendid coleus, the extravagance of hibiscus. Now is the yellow season. Mists and mellow fruitfulness, vibrant against the persistent green.

*

My first-born was conceived at midnight on another Halloween, after a party in1969. The first month I was off the pill. As sperm trickled into my womb, I lay in the darkness and in that haze of sleepy satiety saw. A cloud descended, a cloud of children’s voices, milling, excited, clambering. A cumulus of little faces, inchoate, coming into form, coming into perspective, children appearing suddenly after a great treat. One little being was the most persistent, determined to present himself first. The others dropped back, lost their form, slipped, returned to cloud. Triumphantly, the winner declared himself, named himself, chose me as his home. Flushed with victory, his cherubic cheeks reddening. I saw this boy again, two years later, incarnated as my son. He realized himself as a toddler just as he had appeared at his conception, as form took hold.

This tadpole swam in me, nothing but a black dot. The tadpole flourished, developed limbs. A small toad explored my innards as its own private pond. I watched from up in my head, fascinated and somewhat horrified at this invasion. The toad stopped wandering, settled into my womb, curved into a ball and concentrated on growing. Would I never know privacy again? During the day, I taught rock music lyrics to bemused Tech kids who until then had no interest in English. Night was given over to swelling. Growth comes at night, and I grew; the foetus grew. Swelling with pride, I became belly. Belly became me. Two heartbeats in me now. And then, as we watched Woodstock, the kick. Not just a kick, a drumbeat rocking to the percussion of Country Joe and the Fish.

Because of the size of the foetus, the doctor proclaimed it would be due the first of July. I waited throughout the summer, our first in the suburbs. Steam lifting off the balcony railing. Our first summer off the ground, in a high rise. In those innocent days, a high-rise was an eyrie, the height of sophistication. We settled into domesticity. I wore a loose Moroccan djellaba and wallowed like a whale. My belly continued to expand in the heat like an over-ripe tomato. Thirty pounds of belly, and my arms and legs still skinny. We painted the spare bedroom for the baby. We painted my academic cousin’s wicker basinet. We entertained bachelor friends, who stayed too long,

I was twenty-five. I thought I was ready. Married, educated, well-travelled. Ready for the next stage. And the urge was in me. My husband accommodated. Neither of us had any conception of parenthood. There were few books on the topic in 1970, aside from my mother’s Dr. Spock. None of our friends had children. But we nested. My belly pulled my intellect into its own wisdom, its will more focussed than mine, which seemed to have melted in the heat. I waited placidly. Hormones suffused my mind. I dreamed of toadlets, amphibian babies swimming through my veins, through ‘hysteria’, the original wandering womb. Wondering when, wondering if and how.

In hospital, I rode out the contracting waves for thirty-six hours. When the contractions were so close they were one crest and trough, ongoing, I left my body to float out the top of my perspiring head. Hovering on the ceiling, I watched with mild compassion the woman below writhe in a white hospital gown, her sheet twisted. Not waving but drowning. It was a long weekend and my doctor was away playing golf. When he returned, I was induced. My son was reluctantly induced into the world.

I recognize him, this revenant. A summer baby, born in Leo, ‘way past due, but once out, bursting to engage us with outstretched arms. Plump and bursting, baby Joy, baby Life, firstborn. My Syrian friend Hassan tells me that if I were Moslem, I would now be called by my son’s name. My honorific would be my role: Mother of the First-born. Out of respect, because I have delivered the son, the centre of the world. Holding this child, I believe it.

He drains my milk, sucks so eagerly that my nipples are raw and bleeding. Blood and milk trickle down from the corner of his mouth, separately, red and white. He sleeps in the cradle of my arms, satiated. The world is his womb these August days so hot neither of us can tell inside from out. We are outside in. I have known him beyond time. And I watch with the decades as he unfolds.

Penn Kemp

Poem for Solstice Night

All Things Considered

On the shelf inside the storm, an empty
pitcher of light awaits sage and summer
savory.  All puns are planted to present
these things as if saying were enough
to conjure the perfect illusion illuminated.
Now.  At the turning of the year after
nadir of deepest darkness, the small
Moon of Long Night turns to beam
over the orchard above the frozen lake.
The sun stands Solstice still, holding
its breath, biding its time until released
to start once more in utter clarity of cold.

 

In that perilous moment before cycles
start up again, we all can fall through
cracks.  Interstices of ice drag us down.

We grope from dusk to dark to light.
We slip between stars, drawn out
beyond what we know, considering,
considere, to be with the luminary.

Night rustles outside our window, murmurs
and squeaks.  Whimpers follow outraged
raccoon yowl.  Orange and black streak

across the dark pane I can’t see through
conjuring night creatures’ obscured world,

Scent leads a trail to territorial war, deep
enmities nurtured throughout the long wee

hours before dawn lifts that velvet cloth to
reveal grey, seeping shade back to clarity.

Penn Kemp

*

The last lines of this poem were first published in from Dream Sequins, Lyrical Myrical Press, with drawings by the brilliant Steven McCabe. See his gorgeous https://poemimage.wordpress.com/.

Poetry and Jazz on a midSummer Night

Penn Kemp and Bill Gilliam with Daniel Kolos

Saturday, August 6, 7 pm. StoryRoomToronto, 48 Dalton Road, Toronto M5R 2Y7.

Helwa! Experiencing Ancient Egypt. Egypt is a land of the heart, and the heart of earth’s land mass. Travel with us to timeless realms.  Sample a piece from HELWA! here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM2Jg1Xf39g….

We will also be performing poems from Penn’s forthcoming book, Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books). These pieces are on the CD, From the Lunar Plexus, which will be available for sale along with Bill’s CDs. Seating is limited. Please note that all spaces are now filled.
Contact Penn@pennkemp.ca or Bill, 416 904 2157.

Daniel Kolos and Penn will be performing “Poem for Peace in Two Voices” in English and in Daniel’s translation into Egyptian hieroglyphs!  You can hear us reading “Night Orchestra” on http://www.mytown.ca/pennkemp.

“What happens when the lyric power of a highly experienced and galvanically charged poet dances in the electron stream? Barbaric Cultural Practice collects a decade’s poetic exploration of digital world absurdities, of the vitality of the earth and its grave needs, and of community. Penn never just reads: she performs, even on the page, and we can’t help but listen. Connect with the surging circuit of her energetic and eclectic words, connect and recharge.” – Susan McMaster

Admission is free with the purchase of the chapbook, Helwa! ($6) or a CD ($20) or by donation.

Bill Gilliam is a Toronto based composer / pianist who improvises new music compositions. blending influences of contemporary harmony & jazz idioms into his unique style of playing. His recordings include Ensorcell for solo piano; Signposts with piano, percussion & spoken word; & Memory Vision, a DVD with electro-acoustic music & two poems by Penn. www.bill-gilliam.com

Performance poet and playwright Penn Kemp is the League of Canadian Poets 2015 Spoken Word Artist of the Year. She has created several CD’s of sound opera with Bill, including Night Vision. Her latest works are two anthologies: Performing Women and Women and Multimedia. Her new book of poetry, Barbaric Cultural Practice, will be out October 1.

Bill and Penn are next performing September 3 @ 2p.m, Words and Music Salon, Vino Rosso Bar & Restaurant. 995 Bay St., Toronto M5S 3C4. Free.

Helwa cover

Penn’s readings are sponsored by the League of Poets, Metro Readings in Public Places.

Helwa Nut Circle