The Call of the Forest

Here’s to the Creative Aging Festival!  I’m delighted to be opening this showcase tonight with a paean of praise to an elder who most exemplifies creative aging!

Diana Beresford Krueger lives on a farm near Lanark, Ontario, but she grew up in Ireland. Diana is a seventy-two year old Leo, appropriately born in the Year of the Wood Monkey, and a proponent/gardener of native species par excellence. Her film, The Call of the Forest, exudes an astute vitality and a whole-hearted commitment to environmental activism. The glory of the film is its in-depth appreciation of trees: a documentary “driven by beauty”*! It is showing at The Hyland Cinema till June 1, and I truly recommend it.

In this film, The Call of the Forest, and in her books like The Global Forest, Diana interprets the nature of trees from both profoundly scientific and spiritual perspectives. Certainly, she emphasizes the healing benefits of specific trees as well as the forest as a whole. Care to go forest bathing to enhance your immune system? Try wandering among the deodar pines of Elsie Perrin Williams estate. Open your lungs and breathe in the powerful antioxidants that will lift your spirits for days.

How to articulate the invisible, the spirit of tree, for example… why, that’s my aim as a poet.  My childhood desire was to understand the language of trees, plants and birds. Diana translates for me, even in this dream poem:

Visit In Tune, In Time

Diana Beresford Kroeger benignly surveys my wild garden.
As I explain that I like to let things grow naturally, to pop up
where they will, she sniffs. “This garden needs more tending,”

she proclaims. Singing along, I set to work weeding. Waving
a hand, she encourages my rhythm to tune in with the plants’
own. So the cardinal colours deepen, burnished lilies bronze

exuberant in sunlight. Impossible Echinacea record no clash
of purple/orange but blare triumph. Songbirds gather, a lilt of
goldfinch, a trill of Carolina wren. Cardinals respond in chords.

Brilliance resounds all around. Redbud, mock-orange boughs
bow in the heightened breeze. Resonance ripples and whirls
to restore, re-story this walled garden, her flowers telling, told.

How do plants communicate to each other… and to us? As botanist and biochemist raised in Ireland’s woodland lore, Diana bridges the false gap between science and the arts, between science and spirituality. Her roots are manifold, both as botanical researcher with a doctorate in medical biochemistry, and as hereditary lineage-holder, steeped in the Celtic tradition that has revered woodlands for centuries. Diana vividly and empathetically expresses the urgency in protecting the forest, especially our northern boreal forest that is so essential for global carbon storage.

She continues to beam a sense of wonder, joy and curiosity grounded in intellectual acuity. And in those traits alone, Diana Beresford Krueger is a triumphantly engaged guide to very creative aging. We can only aspire to learn from such an inspirational mentor. Her message is simple: go plant a native tree every year, and watch it grow! Let’s create our Forest City in reality as well as name!

*A quote in a email from the film’s director, Jeff McKay. Thanks to him for exquisite photography, editing and commentary.
Diana 2017

Hear Diana’s CBC interview about the benefits of forest bathing!

Call of the Forest
248 Princess Street, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Winnipeg, MB R3B Canada

CalloftheForest.ca
Twitter @DBKTrees
Facebook.com/CallOfTheForest/

Creative Aging Wolf Hall 2017

 

Performing Women: an Anthology

performing-women-2016

Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets is now for sale!

The anthology is available for $10+ shipping from The League of Canadian Poets, , 416-504-1657, info@poets.ca.  92pages. http://poets.ca/feministcaucus/

And as a copyscript for $12 from Playwrights Guild of Canada, 416-703-0201, sara@playwrightsguild.ca. http://www.playwrightsguild.ca/performing-women-playwrights-and-performance-poets

Contents


Introduction
Penn Kemp, Editor
 

Why Ducks, Anyway?
Kelly Jo Burke

Red Dresses Hang from the Trees and Towers: Red and Rapunzel are Missing

Cornelia Hoogland

Sounding the depth, the surface resounding
Penn Kemp

Zoomorphic Poetics (or, Why I Write So Many Poems About Wildlife)
Catherine Kidd

How does collaboration enhance performance poetry? The Intimate Power of Co-Creation
Susan McMaster

Spoken Word Poetry as Political Act
Sheri-D Wilson

News from the Feminist Caucus, by Anne Burke, http://poets.ca/feministcaucus
“The new printing of Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets
is available from the League Office. I have posted a copy here of the complete list of titles in this popular series. A digital copy was sent to the Playwrights Guild of Canada, our partners for the joint panel at the 2016 Canadian Writers Summit. I came across some amazing interviews which a few of the contributors gave and provide web links here which you need to enter into your internet browser. Thank you to Kelley Jo Burke, Cornelia Hoogland, Penn Kemp, Catherine Kidd, Susan McMaster, and Sheri D Wilson!”
http://poets.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/NewsREVISEDOct2016from-the-Feminist-Caucus.pdf
Interviews with Featured Playwrights Q & A

http://www.playwrightsguild.ca/news/featured-playwright-q-penn-kemp
http://www.playwrightsguild.ca/news/featured-playwright-q-kelley-jo-burke
http://www.playwrightsguild.ca/news/featured-playwright-q-cornelia-hoogland

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Fall Events with Penn Kemp

See you at these Upcoming Events!

November 6, 10am. Penn Kemp and Madeline Bassnett read together for this session @Words, Words, London’s Literary and Creative Arts Festival, http://wordsfest.ca/. The Lecture Theatre, Museum London, 421 Ridout St N, London, ON N6A 5H4. Contact: Joshua D Lambier, Artistic Director, jlambie2@uwo.ca.
http://wordsfest.ca/events/2016/penn-kemp-madeline-bassnett-in-conversation

Saturday, November 26, 2-4, pm. Book signing of Barbaric Cultural Practice and Launch of Women & Multimedia and Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets from The Living Archives Series, The Feminist Caucus, League of Canadian Poets: Penn is essayist and editor of the two anthologies.Brown & Dickson, 609 Richmond Street, London  N6A 3G3. Contact: 519-318-1983, books@brownanddickson.com, http://www.brownanddickson.com

http://www.thelondoner.ca/2016/09/28/penn-kemp-as-barbarian

http://www.londonculture.ca/things-we-do/poet-laureate/past-poet-laureates
Thanks for a grand couple of years to the London Arts Council!

Penn, sounding at Canadian Writers’ Summit at Toronto’s Harbourfront, June 2016.  Photo: Monique Renaud for Playwrights Guild of Canada

penn-sound-performing-women-2016-monique-renaud

Recently…

Wednesday, October 5, 2016; doors open 7:00 pm; start time 7:30 p.m. Quattro Book Launch, Toronto, Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta Ave. (event room at rear of dining area) Free. Contact: info@quattrobooks.ca, http://www.supermarketto.ca/
Six authors: Sanita Fejzić, from Ottawa, with her novella Psychomachia
Penn Kemp, from London ON, with her book of poetry Barbaric Cultural Practice
Susan McCaslin, from Victoria, BC, with her book of poetry Painter, Poet, Mountain
Richard Osler, from Duncan, BC, with his book of poetry Hyaena Season
Cora Siré, from Montreal, with her novella The Other Oscar
Laura Swart, from Calgary, with her novella Blackbird Calling

Friday, October 7, 2016, 7:30- 8:30pm. Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, AGO Friday Nights in October, Signy Eaton Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto  M5T 1G4. Call 1-877-225-4246 or 416-979-6648. AGO features Penn Kemp and Paul Dutton, sound poets. The topic is streaming influences from the ’70’s: http://www.ago.net/new-ago-exhibition-explores-the-experimental-energy-of-the-toronto-art-scene-in-the-70s-and-80s.  More details, including a schedule of performances, will be posted on http://www.ago.net. Host Lillian Allen. Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members.
“I am wanting to feature some of the roots of the aesthetic influence on our city. I am thinking about the important and artistically liberating roles your  (mostly) sound works played. The fact that you were a woman inspired me so much. Your sound explorations and experimentations always make me feel so happy and empowered. The power of your art has never left me. So I am paying tribute to you by asking you to read/perform in this series.” Lillian Allen. https://www.ago.net/toronto-tributes-tributaries-1971-1989

Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm. London launch of Penn’s poetry book, Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books). Oxford Book Shop, 262 Piccadilly Street, London N6A 1S4.
Contact: Hilary bookorderprocessing@oxfordbookshop.com. Tel: 519-438-8336.

Saturday, October 15, 2016, 2 pm. Penn reading from her play “The Triumph of Teresa Harris” and Barbaric Cultural Practice. With Daniel Kolos, Antony Christie. The Garafraxa Café, 131 Garafraxa Street South (Highway 6), Durham ON. Contact: danielkolos123@gmail.com or Michelle and Kevin Bossi, 226-432-2175, garafraxacafe@gmail.com. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

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at the CANADIAN WRITERS’ SUMMIT

The Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets is pleased to present the panel “Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets” at the Canadian Writers’ Summit taking place this June at Harbourfront in Toronto. Find out more information about the Summit, and the League’s Annual Conference, at poets.ca/conference.

Friday, June 17, from 7:45 to 9 am, we will host our breakfast business meeting and open readings. We will be launching the anthology Women & Multimedia: Poetry Collaboration/Elaborations, with work from Di Brandt, Terry Carter, Penn Kemp, Moe Clark, Jude Neale, and Cathy Petch. This anthology is edited by Penn Kemp, and contains papers published in our Living Archives Series. This event is free to members of the League, and may be attended without registering for the Summit. Please contact the League office at admin@poets.ca for more information.

Saturday, June 18, from 4 to 5 pm, Miss Lou’s Room. Join six amazing panelists to discuss experiences and ideas concerning performance. Our six panelists are playwrights, performers, poets… and several are all three. We’ll conclude the panel with a Q&A. The panel is a joint venture between Playwrights Guild and the League of Poets. We will be launching PERFORMING WOMEN, an anthology with papers by the panelists, edited by Penn Kemp. It will also be available through the League, or online through playwrightsguild.ca. This panel is only open to Summit registrants. Visit poets.ca/conference to find out more information about registration and pricing. Miss Lou’s Room is located on the second floor of the Bill Boyle Artport, along the south side overlooking the Natrel Pond/Rink and the lake. See www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/misslousroom/

Panelists:

Kelly Jo Burke, “Why Ducks, Anyway?”

Cornelia Hoogland, “Red Dresses Hang from the Trees and Towers: Red and Rapunzel are Missing”

Penn Kemp, “I am translated: How does multimedia give form to a poem’s alternate expression?”

Catherine Kidd, “Zoomorphic Poetics (or, Why I Write So Many Poems About Wildlife)”

Susan McMaster, “How does collaboration enhance performance poetry? The Intimate Power of Co-Creation”

Moe Clark will be performing from her piece in WOMEN AND MULTIMEDIA.

crystalEldonsm

Photo by Daniela Sneppova, cover of WOMEN AND MULTIMEDIA

Celebrating Brick Books’ 40th anniversary!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Photo: Kathy Smith

Photo: Kathy Smith

Follow the Yellow Brick Road  

 
In these tough times, all publishing houses
need more than a name like Brick to stand.
 
Take a reputation for exceptional books by
some of the finest poet editors in the land.
 
Take Kitty Lewis at the helm, steering poets
to read cross-country, words springing to life.
 
Brick Books birthed in London forty years ago
under the aegis of Applegarth’s Folly and/or
 
Nairn Books. Just like our own Antler River,
Brick’s origins are forked. In the Seventies,
 
London knew the regional led to national
recognition but was in itself the foundation.
 
More lime and less clay constitute the local
soft yellow buff brick London is famous for.
 
Now Brick Books stretches across the land
with aplomb, not coasting on a poet’s laurels
 
but publishing new and more established talent,
whatever is fresh, exact, exquisitely designed.
 
Reading their titles, you realize how space
for the art of poetry is created in the heart .
 
“Three cheers for the Brick Books experience”,
writes Barry Dempster, Brick poet and editor.
 
We too salute Brick’s enterprise, excellence
and enduring enthusiasm for poems that last.
 
No winds of change will blow this house down.
It’s built to endure so the word can be read and
 
heard.  For Brick Books takes care and cares for
the several poetic Muses with singular attention.
Penn Kemp is a London poet, playwright and activist, winner of the
2015 League of Poets Spoken Word Award. Her Muse/ news is up on
https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/.

This poem was publised on 
http://www.brickbooks.ca/follow-the-yellow-brick-road-celebrating-brick-books-40th-anniversary/ for

Celebration of Canadian Poetry 2015, http://www.brickbooks.ca/category/news/celebrate-canadian-poetry/

See also http://www.brickbooks.ca/week-2-i-love-canlit-by-irene-mathyssen/
http://www.brickbooks.ca/week-25-colleen-thibaudeau-presented-by-penn-kemp/
http://www.brickbooks.ca/celebrating-daphne-marlatt/
and http://www.brickbooks.ca/week-19-penn-kemp-presented-by-susan-mccaslin/.

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.

Creative Aging for Boomers!

by Penn Kemp, BA’66, Creative Age Festival’s 2015 Writer in Residence

Penn Kemp, BA’66, Creative Age Festival’s 2015 Writer in Residence

Penn Kemp, BA’66, Creative Age Festival’s 2015 Writer in Residence

Penn is a poet, playwright, novelist, activist and educator.  In 2010, she became London Ontario’s first Poet Laureate.  At the festival, Penn will be performing and leading creative writing workshops with older adult participants.

Demographically, baby boomers have already lived much longer than most of our great-grandparents. Thanks to modern medicine, we have survived childbirth and childhood diseases that would have killed off many of us in earlier eras. Now, suddenly, baby boomers are facing en masse a new longevity that few survivors previously attained.

Since those born after World War II are now in their sixties; many are reclaiming The 60’s as their own, in some resonant echo with the 60’s in which they came of age. The sixties are the new forties, I hear. But I think of grandmothers, worn out and surrendered to old age at 40. My mother at 70 thought of herself as 35, despite long-standing aches and pains. Nearly seventy, I think of myself as 70, with few aches and pains, at present. (Thanks, Aquafit!)

In approaching my eighth decade, I contemplate the years ahead and behind. So far, so good. To surrender ambition, competitiveness, greed: how freeing. I have spent the allotted lifetime of three score and ten, accumulating, accomplishing, gathering. And now the work is in letting go, shedding, prepared at any point to surrender IT ALL.

How do we learn letting go, surrendering the unnecessary, the outmoded, that which is not useful? How do we live completely in the moment, so that we no longer live in dread of our spouse’s illness, our own? How do we age creatively? How do we grow up without the wisdom of older guides? How do we mature into elderhood, with so few signposts to guide us?

Neoteny, the expanded time for growing up that our culture allows, is a word that I have lately been examining. “Neoteny is the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles.” Croning may begin at 50 these days. What new possibilities begin at 70, at 80 and on? We know all too well what diminishes, and what ends.

How are we to grow into creative aging, with so few pointers? Since we’ve thrown away or lost ancient traditions that might have helped, we need to draw our own maps, our own definitions of maturity. What is an elder? Can we define the term, or do we need to live the question into our own answers, as Rilke suggests in Letters to a Young Poet:

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Sherry Ruth Anderson’s Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace is a remarkable exploration of this new territory of personal growth. Anderson’s book is both her own journey into elderhood and a guidebook that brings the reader along as a friend whom she invites into her garden. Having written such formative books as The Feminine Face of God and The Cultural Creatives, Anderson is well qualified to articulate the first steps toward elderhood. She is adept at tracing the social implications of her own investigation as it reflects cultural changes. Her personal is indeed political.

Anderson’s own questions, ponderings and fears remain, but now she begins to live the possibilities of elderhood.

P. 83: “Almost always, when I feel my fear open up like this, something unexpected happens… my familiar sense of self has shifted into a deep calm and stability. I feel sober and mature, steady as a mountain and at the same time quite spacious and relaxed. The sensibility is of one ancient and wise.

All of this is quite paradoxical. I feel empty… containing all possibilities— so unformed I’m no longer caught in my yesterdays; so free I’m miles of sky with no clouds.

Will I ever get over how experience changes when I don’t run away from it? Here my fears about getting old and losing my mind have opened to a new sense of maturity… that ancient calm wisdom… the perspective of an elder, I wonder?”

In her inquiry, Anderson quotes some renowned elders. Mary Daly in her seminal Gyn/ecology writes: “‘We knit, knot, interlace, entwine, whirl and twirl…’ And what women found, she said, was a place to develop their integrity and ways to break the spell of the culture’s clocks.”

As theologian Nelle Morton mused, “we were hearing ourselves into speech.”

What can we learn from the process of creative aging? What wisdom can we claim? Anderson is never content to keep her own findings to herself. She has developed elder circles across the continent. In group dyads, she poses such questions as “Tell me a way you deny your experience of diminishment.” “What’s it like to feel that denial now?”

“What are the gifts reserved for age?” She listens to the responses and invites us into a deeper hearing of one another.

Anderson presents “a new perspective on aging, inviting the reader to engage the aging process through the art of inner inquiry. This work guides beyond our culture’s mind traps through stories where elders face into the lies, the losses and endings, the tender and bittersweet and ferocious truths of growing old.”

May we too long continue to explore on all levels, inner and outer.  May our histories be recalled. May we all remember the right role of elders: to listen, to be heard, to be held in respect. To hold on. To let go. To be held.

About Creative Age Festival

A 4-day festival to celebrate the creative spirit of older adults (50 plus) in City of London Ontario.  2015 Festival – Thursday, June 4 ~ Sunday, June 8.

Mission

Mission Statement: The Creative Age Festival London will celebrate the creative work and achievements of older adults, promote creative aging programs, feature positive images of older adults in the community and build respect and understanding between generations.

General Information

Activities, workshops and arts education courses to explore, develop and express creativity as we age.

https://www.facebook.com/CreativeAgeLondon?fref=nf


This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Alumni Gazette
http://www.alumni.westernu.ca/alumni-gazette/spring-2015/creative-aging-for-boomers.html

For more information on upcoming workshops, see past posts on http://www.pennkemp.wordpress.com.