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!

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…

Reads for International Women’s Day

This month offers 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. The video of my reading is up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNC2sbZGp3c&t=6s.

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.

Catherine Bush, Blaze Island. Poignant and powerful writing set on Fogol Island, about climate change: “We were very quickly free of the city and out over the most vivid degree of blue permitted on this planet to the human eye.” “It looked like the earth had resisted the imagination of God or poets, I thought in exhilaration.” And this short, tender film from the text, https://www.cbc.ca/arts/canadacouncildigitaloriginals/watch-this-collage-film-love-story-created-by-canadian-artists-in-isolation-1.5804960​.

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

Sadiqa de Meijer, The outer wardsSadiqa 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”

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!

Annie Ernaux, Hôtel Casanova: et autres textes brefs. Autofiction écriture at its finest in curious glimpses: “l’écriture, du rapport qu’elle a avec le monde réel.” My school French was good for Ernaux’s lucent prose, until the slang of dialogue…

Lucy Foley, The Guest List. A predictable but fun mystery set on a secluded Island… murder ensues.

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.”

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 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”

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.”  #IWD

Bell 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.”

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko. Fascination 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 truck convoy versus convoys to Ukraine. Oh, 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. Winnicott calls it: “‘Our first adventures into reality are through the objects” with “vitality or reality of [their] own.”

Charlie Petch, Why I Was Late
To be performed with dulcimer.”
“Things You Didn’t Know about Me”
Self-referential and fun. Performative poetry like 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. “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 matrilineage:

Photo: Amanda Chalmers

A Gathering of Poets in Response to Peril

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In his famous elegy for W. B. Yeats, W. H. Auden says, “poetry makes nothing happen.” He adds: “it survives,/A way of happening, a mouth.”

In response to Auden, please join our Zoom reading on April 2, 2022 at 2 pm EST. This “Oh!Sound Reading” will feature many of the poets below. Details are posted on https://www.rsitoski.com/event-details/poets-in-response-to-peril. Please respond there if you can join us for National Poetry Month. Along with host Richard-Yves Sitoski, we will be celebrating How Poems MatterWhy Poems Matter.

How do poets respond to precarious events in the world? Susan McCaslin writes : “On Feb. 24, 2022, when the world woke to the shock of the catastrophic bombing of Ukraine, I asked myself and a few of my fellow poet friends how they would respond to Auden’s words, especially in these perilous times.” Susan and I discussed this line from Auden and continued with our own reflections on activism through poetry in this “Dialogue: Reflections on W.H. Auden’s ‘Poetry Makes Nothing Happen’”:  https://www.inanna.ca/2018/11/29/art-action-transformation/.

I continued curating this project, with thanks to all the contributing poets. It’s published on March FORTH, the only day of the year that is a command! See The London Free Press column on Saturday, March 5 on https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poets-are-talking-tough-and-their-words-make-a-difference with a video of my introduction to our project and a video reading of two poems for Ukraine up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqEczOl0OyQ. Thanks to the LFP for their ongoing support of poetry! Here’s to peace with freedom!

Penn Kemp
http://www.pennkemp.weebly.com
pennkemp.substack.com

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How Poems MatterWhy Poems Matter.

Poetry makes the song of the heart shape the architecture the eye creates.” Jim Andrews

“I mean this little visual as a statement of how poetry can matter. I feel that it can place us in the meaningful nexus between being epistemological warriors and worriers. Both meaningful positions to consider the world. Poetry makes nothing happen? It does make things happen in terms of epistemology, both as a view on the outside world and one’s internal world.” Gary Barwin

“Poetry makes nothing obvious, nothing earth-shaking happen. At first. But it’s a slow ignition that can light up your life later, on the right day, at the right time, right when you need it most.” Kate Braid

“In the dark hours we place a bird beside a crumbled citadel, a voice inside a crowded tunnel, a mother singing in her mother tongue to a baby who cannot sleep. The image, metaphor, voice  resonates with the rhythms of heart beat and pulse, this for me is poetry. Where we turn in the dark and in the light.” Yvonne Blomer

David C. Brydges

“The poet’s lampoon must never go dull. Poetry precisely pricks the diplomatic bubble mask with such elegant savagery. Poetry without provocation is a seed without soil. Poets are society’s second government of conscience and dissent. Poets are language light-bearers in darker times. Poets are historians capturing a community’s tragedies and triumphs. We record and share our humanity so others can identify, empathize, and be inspired. Helping to bring wholeness to the human journey when hearts are broken. A poem is a small act as contemporary artist Ai Weiwei says on taking action: “A small act is worth a million thoughts.” Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity. By themselves, they can do a little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving. — statement in the cemetery where Jackson Pollock is buried.” David C. Brydges

“Tyrants hate poets: Ovid was exiled by Augustus, Mandelstam was killed by Stalin, Neruda banished by Pinochet, Hikmet imprisoned in Turkey. When I hear the word Putin I reach for my sonnet!”
Andrei Codrescu

“Poetry is the translation of silences into words.” Sadiqa de Meijer

“When I woke up to the news of war I had no words. And spent a few days disoriented. I stumbled upon a recording I did for the “slow erosions” chapbook launch in January 2021. These poems anchored me, opened a space and I have listened to them since many times and shared with friends. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hpr6Vpkw8d0&list=PLhdtAvxoVAXFJJj9a_pUXRCsAUN-TWawy” Daniela Elza

“Poetry is the place where the light gets into a person’s heart and mind on darker days. It’s the way hope lives in the world, saying ‘yes’ even when everything else seems to say ‘no.’ Poetry transports, transforms, and transmutes. It’s strong magic, and words have power—especially in the face of apathy or tyranny. Poetry asks you to pay attention, to observe, to be the witness, and then it asks you to write the words down on paper and give them a clear, true voice.” Kim Fahner

“Auden also wrote, ‘But it survives/ A way of happening, a mouth.’” In perilous times, poetry is hope, and hope is awareness. Hope is clarity.” Carolyn Forché. Carolyn also gave us permission to add this link to a reading on March 1 of “Voices for Ukraine–Words together, Worlds apart.”

The reading inspired this little poem:
SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

When Ilya Kaminsky thanks
Carolyn Forché for her reading
dedicated to the city of Odessa


“where two things were esteemed,
poetry and ships”–in the subtitle
below, his word “reading” appears

aptly as “vineyard”.
Penn Kemp

“Poetry homes right into the heart and soul and this wisdom is essential as the world spins out of alignment. For too long, poetry has been marginalized; it needs to be central to daily living and acting to manifest inclusion, peace and communal care for everyone.” Katerina Fretwell

Gary Snyder, quoted by Kerry Gilbert below.

“You do what you can, as a citizen, and as a poet. Poetry, it seems to me, pushes against the degradation of language, and opens a space for the human.” Robert Girvan

“Poetry, especially when it is read aloud, can stir the most hardened heart to all that is possible. Poetry may well be our (and the Earth’s) most potent hope.” Heidi Greco  

“Poems connect us.
They are ambassadors when grief blinds us, when joy takes our breath away, when memories visit in the night and don’t leave a name.
Poems are rhythms of peace in a world of ancient battles.
They offer refuge from the front lines when there is little to believe or trust.
They offer a map to the heart, a path otherwise lost.
And finally, poems are followed by silence, the space between words, the knowing that cannot be told with language.” Diana Hayes

“A LITTLE NOTHING: POETRY MATTERS
When words fail, war is apt for displaying insanity.
Does matter matter? In wars of words, matter dissembles, lies.
It’s said, meter matters, metrics matter,
think of Fiona Hill: “…he wouldn’t, would he? Well, yes, he would.”
It’s said, maters matter, mother-tongues matter, meaning matters,
sometimes something trumps nothing
sometimes something lies amidst the branches of insulation
sometimes nothing
sometimes something lies
in the valley of its un-making
some times a thing — a too busy grief
some times no thing
for now, better, no thing
a word-less nothing”
Karl Jirgens

“Poetry, painting, sculpture, music, all the arts, including “folk arts” nourish Life itself and celebrate the creativity of the human spirit and address the Why of being alive. War destroys Life. Some arts remind us of that destruction: ‘Guernica,’ war symphonies, and graphic expressions of death. Arts also can evoke Being itself, even capturing the love and mystical sense of harmony that quietly permeate all the energy-events in the Universe. Above all, poetry and its companion arts embody that sense of Presence in our mutual humanity and aspirations of the spirit. To the No of destructive forces, they are the everlasting Yes to Life.” Lee Johnson

Jim Andrews

“As Wislawa Szymborska writes, ‘Poetry isn’t recreation, a respite from life. It is life.’ Poetry is also a hiatus, a lift out of the daily round. Just as we support white Ukraine, may we support all activists against tyranny. May we celebrate peace with freedom.
From FAST POEM for UKRAINE
The dark day we saw
coming. We heard it
coming. But we thought
we could for-
stall war.
Disbelief and shock there.
Disbelief and shock here.
Will new and expanded
sanctions work? Tears
are never enough. As if
poems could help. As
if words would work.
“We now have war in Europe
that is of a scale and type
unparalleled in history.”
“This will not shake Europe.”
But it already has.
May Kyiv keep safe beneath the holy
mantle of Maty Zemlya, Mother Earth
as if prayers are enough. Send money.
‘Prove that you are with us. Prove
that you will not let us go,’ demands
President Volodymyr Zelensky of us.”
Penn Kemp

“My most recent effort is a poem trying to express how crucial battered old trees are for wildlife—the very ones people (including most arborists) would deem hazardous. Every tree matters to something alive, and the dead and dying sometimes most of all. I confess I hope the poem saves trees.” Chris Lowther

“Because poetry’s nothing is so much better than a poetryless nothing. 
Because Auden also wrote “we must love one another or die.” Tanis MacDonald

“Though poetry may change nothing in Auden’s sense, it has the power to transform consciousness. Change for the betterment of the whole is incremental when in the seed state, but capable of blossoming in the fulness of time. Poetry has the power to open hearts and minds to what poet and novelist Joy Kogawa calls “the arc of goodness.” Susan McCaslin

“Poetry is the voice of the spaces between the words, of the heart between the beats, of the caught breath before the long exhale. It’s not a naming of what we feel and perceive and think and imagine, but a net to capture all of those in its evocations and place them in our hands, to weave our own tale. Poetry hums and sings and says what can’t be said.” Susan McMaster

“No one goes to war for a poem. If the world were filled with poets, and those who read poetry, perhaps the only conflict would be the shortage of time in which to appreciate them all.” Sandra Nicholls

“A n d  P o e t r y  S t a r t e d  t o  R u s h  O u t 
A hole opened in the sky
And poetry started to rush out
At first we thought there must be so much poetry
It would take forever to empty the world
But each poem stretched the hole wider
And so now we must get to work again
We must breathe into the word
And let language rise up among us
If there is no poetry left in the world
Our kind will die forever
Without poetry we will not walk
Into the middle of the river
Just to see what’s done
To our reflections by the waves
Quicker than time can drag poetry
Gasping away forever
We must make up the new world
New words new ways”
Robert Priest

“Poetry takes one view of the world and smashes it, giving the writer — and in turn the reader — a way to reassemble it, examine it, reassess it.” R L Raymond

“I’ve always read that Auden quote — “poetry makes nothing happen” — from a somewhat Buddhist perspective. Nothing. Emptiness. The radiant creative void. Poetry makes it happen.” Murray Reiss

“There is a thickening, the moment water seeping from wetness forms a drop, just before it falls as the watering called in shorthand water and another forms from the wet. Thickening is the opening in the world that forms awareness, that tradition calls the self. It is a shell, that gathers life in and then gives it away. Call that the skull, if you like, a shallow bowl, a shawl, and a shaping. There is space that holds memory, that minds it, then pours it out into other cups, from which people drink it down, in repetition of the original thickening. It is good, they say, to the last drop. It can be found in gardens, wells and the sound of feet on shore that is called sand and gravel, after feet call them to the ear. When tamed, and harnessed, it is called the self, and moves into worlds of artifice. In that form, wild things, that shift by the world’s will, avoid its halters. It can, however, be the passing on of breath, formed in lungs, throat, mouth and with tongue and palette and lip, and in that form it carries through air to a listening ear, which reforms its dance as sound. When the eye joins in, this sound becomes the tracks of birds on paper. To be complete, a voice must complete the triad and lift it again into the air, dancing it again in the mouth.”
Harold Rhenisch

“As poet Don McKay writes, ‘poetry makes “nothing” HAPPEN. Gives the mute heart a tongue, awakens somnolent minds, brings memories back to life and life to conscious engagement.’”
“from WHY POETRY?
Why poetry or any art
in this time of planetary crisis?
how can a mere scatter of words
bright strokes of a brush
or melodies loosed to the wind
stay the daily dying off
of species we will never see again?…
Auden on the death of Yeats
bitterly laments in almost tuneless mourning
that poetry ‘makes nothing happen’
but finds the faith to move on
makes bleakness blossom
in measured blank verse
until it blooms in lofty rhyme
affirming art in a ferocious time.”
Peggy Roffey

“Living the last years in my hometown Sarajevo which survived the four years’ long siege, I noticed many of my friends often reached to poetry books dealing with war, rather than to history books that make every single life looks like numbers. Watching on TV the attack on Ukraine, the only thing I can write now, as a survivor, is a short poem:
Warrior, if you come back to your hometown in uniform
Everybody will ask you how many enemies you killed
But once changing your clothes
Nobody will ask you
How many times you were killed
On your way back home.”
Goran Simic

“Poetry connects us through space and time, through, between and beyond the words themselves. ” Christine Smart

“The nothing that poetry makes happen is pure potential. It’s Zen mushin space. It’s chaos in the original sense of the term, the yawning void that precedes matter and order. It’s a charged emptiness, an electric paradox, infinitude which has the wherewithal to (ful)fill itself. Poetry restores the primacy of the unknown, the unknowable, the unnameable. Poetry is for those of us who find meaning not in answers, but in questions.” Richard-Yves Sitoski

“Poetry is our body’s knowledge. Seeping from blood to ink, where the senses meet soul. Poetry creates bridges from the invisible to visible, crossing all borders. It writes us anew in the midst of hardship and companions us as a lover.” Celeste Snowber

“THIS VAST ROBE
We will,
Wear this vast robe together
Repair the vast robe together
We will
Share ‘this’ – our one Vast Robe
Together”
Roberta Pyx Sutherland

“Poetry reminds us of our deepest humanity. It is the human spirit expressed in language, pulling us back to what inspires and lightens the soul: hope, empathy, faith in the possibility of a future despite history’s continual attempts to eradicate it.” Eva Tihanyi

Here, in the cemetery,
you see the oddest people
with flowers, all searching
for a place they know
and bruised over the place
where the heart is.
When I come here–which I do
only in words–I tell them to walk
slowly, to look for every bit of death
they can find in the works of art
around them:  life is buried there,
where we go.
MTC Cronin, quoted by Sharon Thesen

“Poetry can go beyond prose, bypass intellectualization, and enter an intuitional realm that connects with each of us on a deep emotional and spiritual level.  When this happens there is an extraordinary resonance and true transformation becomes possible, indeed almost inevitable.” Jennifer Wenn

“Sometimes poetry is the invisible thread, the line, that connects us to our own humanity, humility. Realms open – hearts, bodies, spirits, minds. The poem flies into our beings – to unravel the unravelling world.” Sheri-D Wilson

“Poetry as the voice of the heart strings is how it matters.” Elana Wolff

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Poet standing for Ukraine

Two Poems for Ukraine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqEczOl0OyQ. Video: Mike Hensen

Reads for International Women’s Day

This month, with comments:) In a time of loss and transition, I’m having trouble organising my mind, so I read instead of writing or editing. 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. The video of my reading is up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNC2sbZGp3c&t=6s.

Recommended Reads for International Women’s Day and ON….

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.

Catherine Bush, Blaze Island. Poignant and powerful writing set on Fogol Island, about climate change: “We were very quickly free of the city and out over the most vivid degree of blue permitted on this planet to the human eye.” “It looked like the earth had resisted the imagination of God or poets, I thought in exhilaration.” And this short, tender film from the text,  https://www.cbc.ca/arts/canadacouncildigitaloriginals/watch-this-collage-film-love-story-created-by-canadian-artists-in-isolation-1.5804960​.

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

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.

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”

Esi Edugyan, Out of the sun: on race and storytelling. https://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!

Annie Ernaux, Hôtel Casanova: et autres textes brefs. Autofiction écriture at its finest in curious glimpses: “l’écriture, du rapport qu’elle a avec le monde réel.” My school French was good for Ernaux’s lucent prose, until the slang of dialogue…

Lucy Foley, The Guest List. A predictable but fun mystery set on a secluded Island… murder ensues.

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.”

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”

Vivian Gornick, Taking a long look: essays on culture, literature, and feminism in our time

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 Marie of France!

Bell 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.”

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko. Fascination 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 truck convoy versus convoys to Ukraine. Oh, 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. Winnicott calls it: “‘Our first adventures into reality are through the objects” with “vitality or reality of [their] own.”

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.

To remind us of spring…

Please join me on https://penn.substack.com/p/reads-for-international-womens-day.

April Poetry with Penn Kemp & Pals

National Poetry Month Virtual Readings

A Near Memoir: new poems (Beliveau Books) is launching on Earth Day, April 22!
Want a taste of my new work? Four poems from A Near Memoir (“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” & “You There”) appear in Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, out now on https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

National Poetry Month Readings

Sunday, April 18, 4pm EDT. Our group reading from the anthology, Voicing Suicide, is hosted by Josie di Sciascio-Andrews with Daniel G Scott, Editor. Spread the word and join us if you can. Here is the link: meet.google.com/pwz-yqew-fiu Contact: <voicingsuicide@gmail.com>.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM EDT. Join us for a party in virtual reality, featuring Kelly Kaur, Nancy R. Lange, Laurie MacFayden, Valerie Mason-John, Gregory Betts, Laurie Anne Fuhr, Jocko Benoit & Penn Kemp. #All you need is a computer ://bit.ly/31JadY6. Co-hosted by Kelly Kaur and Lyn Cadence. Sign up for the event on Eventbrite. https://bit.ly/31JadY6 #NPM2021, https://pic.twitter.com/okIfLuw93w.

Sunday, April 25, 2021, 1 PM EDT. National Poetry Month zoom and launch of Femmes de Parole/Women of their Word, edited by Nancy R Lange. The readers for Femmes de parole / Women of their word on the 25th will be Mireille Cliche (QC), Catherine Fortin (QC), Louise Bernice Halfe, Penn Kemp, Nancy R Lange(QC), Genevieve Letarte, (QC), Sharon Thesen and Sheri-D Wilson! Contact: rappelparolecreation@hotmail.com.

Happy National Poetry Month, NPM2021! These readings are sponsored by the League @CanadianPoets!

New Publications

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher, thesedayszine2020@gmail.com. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/HorsebrokePress?coupon=EIGHTNINETEN

“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” and “You There”. Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, Spring 2021. https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitudehttp://www.sageing.ca/sageing36.html, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6. http://www.wordsfest.ca/zine, March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books. Pre-order now. To be launched on April 22, Earth Day!

“What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, Spring 2021.

SPRING Events

Up now!

The Free Press has a marvellous article on line: https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/london-poet-penn-kemp-marks-womens-day-with-call-to-action. The video link to reading the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNC2sbZGp3c&t=6s.

“The Words Festival is very pleased to present two of Canada’s finest poets, Jane Munro & Penn Kemp! Our host for the afternoon was Phil Glennie”: http://wordsfest.ca/events/2020/jane-munro-penn-kemp-in-conversation. The recording is up on https://vimeo.com/498423922.

February 19, 2021. “Steal, Stole, Stun”. One Minute Poem, Poets Corner Reading Series. From FOX HAUNTS, P. 15 (Aeolus House) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5Dtvlc5rNE. https://poetscorner.ca/one-minute-poem/.

February, 2021. “We are gonna begin writing sometime when…” from “Re:Solution”. Performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix on  https://www.mixcloud.com/spoken_matter/sound-poetry-mix-tape/. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

February, 2021. “Heart to Art” from Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books) https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/valentine-poem.

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

April 18. NPM. Readings from “Voicing Suicide”, an anthology edited by Daniel G. Scott. Contact: <voicingsuicide@gmail.com>, organizer Josie Di Sciascio Andrews <j_andrews@sympatico.ca>

April, 2021. NPM Zoom and launch of Femmes de Parole/Women of their Word, edited by Nancy R Lange. Readings: Penn Kemp and Sharon Thesen. Contact: rappelparolecreation@hotmail.com.

May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series. Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski 
https://www.facebook.com/OSPoetLaureate2019to2021

September 5, 7:30-9:30pm, 2021. Feature, Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert Street, Stratford ON. Host: Andreas Gripp,
https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows. Contact beliveaubooks@gmail.com.

  1. “Becoming”: a poem of 80 words matched with Jim Kemp’s painting for 80mL Exhibition to celebrate Museum London’s 80th Birthday. http://museumlondon.ca/. Contact: 80museumlondon@gmail.com

New Publications

“To Carry the Heart of Community Wherever You Find Yourself”. Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, http://www.sageing.ca/sageing36.html, P. 12. Number 36, Spring 2021.

“What Matters”, “Studies in Anticipation”, “Hope the Thing”, Possible Utopias: the Wordsfest Eco Zine, Issue 6. http://www.wordsfest.ca/zine, March 2021.

Forthcoming Publications

A Near Memoir, limited edition chapbook. Scroll to bottom of https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books. Pre-order now.

“Strike/Struck/ Stroke”, These Days Zine, Jeff Blackman, publisher, thesedayszine2020@gmail.com.

“Drawing Conclusions”, “A Convoluted Etymology of the Course Not Taken”, “Celebrating Souwesto Trees” and “You There”. Beliveau Review, Vol. 2 No. 2 Issue 5, May, 2021. https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines.

“What we did not know in 1972. What we know now.” Resistance Anthology. Sue Goyette, editor. University of Regina Press, Spring 2021.

“Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

“Weather Vane, Whether Vain, Whither and Thither” and “Black, White and Red All Over Town”,  An Avian Alphabet. Edited by Susan McCaslin, with woodcut prints by Edith Krause.​

“Dichte” and “Cancel Culture”, EVENT 50/2 (Fall 2021) or 50/3 (Winter 2021/22). http://www.eventmagazine.ca

Recent Events with Penn Kemp

March 8, 2021. 7 – 8:30 p.m. “CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE: Finding Common Ground Through Dialogue”,
Featuring keynote address by Waneek Horn-Miller. Celebrating International Women’s Day at the 2021 Hanycz Lecture/International Women’s Day event. 8:15 p.m. Penn’s reading, commissioned by Brescia University College, London, is sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.  Register here for the whole event (https://hopin.com/events/choose-to-challenge-finding-common-ground-through-dialogue?bblinkid=248579307&bbemailid=28900794&bbejrid=1864748878. Contact: Linda, lpalme9@uwo.ca.

“Re:Solution”, performed with Anne Anglin. Sound Poetry DJ mix for https://www.mixcloud.com/. Limited edition audio cassette. Editors, Andreas Bülhoff & Marc Matter, <andreasbuelhoff@googlemail.com

2020 Holiday Recommendations

Curling Up

with a Great Book!

Superb Canadian writing highly recommended, grouped idiosyncratically

First, by women

Pairing books by Indigenous Writers: Michelle Good, Five Little Indians; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost, Islands of Decolonial Love and Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies.

Pairing pandemic novels: Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars; Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World and Larissa Lai’s The Tiger Flu.

Pairing BC novelists: Shaena Lambert’s Petra Maria Reva; Good Citizens Need Not Fear; Caroline Adderson’s A Russian Sister and Anakana Schofield’s Bina.

Pairing books on relationship: Christy Ann Conlon’s Watermark; Annabel Lyon, Consent; Lynn Coady, Watching You Without Me; Shani Mootoo, Polar Vortex; Vivek Shraya, The Subtweet; Frances Itani, The Company We Keep.

Pairing Westerns: Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner; Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel; Helen Humphreys’s Rabbit Foot Bill and Kate Pullinger’s Forest Green.

Pairing fiction set abroad:  Aislinn Hunter’s The Certainties. Janie Chang’s The Library of Legends; Sarah Leipciger’s Coming Up For Air; Marianne Micros’s Eye; Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here; Lisa Robertson’s Baudelaire Fractals. Anne Simpson’s Speechless AND Farzana Doctor’s magnificent Seven.

Non-Fiction
Carol Bishop-Gwyn, Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt
Lorna Crozier, Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats)
Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
Theresa Kishkan, Euclid’s Orchard & Other Essays
Amanda Leduc, Disfigured
Susan McCaslin & J.S. Porter, Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine
Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer, Reading still matters: what the research reveals about reading, libraries, and community
Susan Vande Griek and Mark Hoffmann, Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel
Elizabeth Waterston, Railway Ties 1888-1920
Jody Wilson-Raybould, From where I stand: rebuilding Indigenous Nations for a stronger Canada

Awards
The Writers’ Trust Award goes to Gil Adamson for Ridgerunner!
The Giller goes to Souvankham Thammavongsa for How to Pronounce Knife
The Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize goes to Armand Garnet Ruffo

Reading Canadian men
Billy-Ray Belcourt, A history of my brief body
Dennis Bock, The Good German
Michael Christie, Greenwood: A Novel of a Family Tree in a Dying Forest
Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In
David Frum, Trumpocalypse
William Gibson, Agency
Rawi Hage, Beirut Hellfire Society
Thomas King, Indians on Vacation
Thomas King, Obsidian: A DreadfulWater Mystery
Kurt Palka, The hour of the fox: a novel
Andrew Pyper, The residence
Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Robin Robertson, The long take: a Noir Narrative
Jesse Thistle, From the Ashes
Clive Thompson, Coders
Richard Wagamese, Keeper’n Me

Back to Poetry, Canadian and Beyond
Madhur Anand, A new index for predicting catastrophes: poems
Margaret Atwood, Dearly
Adèle Barclay, Renaissance normcore
Gary Barwin, For it is a PLEASURE and a SURPRISE to Breathe: new & selected Poems
Heather Birrell, Float and scurry
Jericho Brown, The Tradition 
Lucas Crawford, The high line scavenger hunt
Amber Dawn, My Art is Killing Me
Dom Domanski, Bite down little whisper
Klara du Plessis, Ekke
Nathan Dueck, A very special episode / brought to you by Nathan Dueck
Chantal Gibson, How She Read
Julie Hartley, Deboning a dragon
Karen Houle, The Grand River Watershed: a folk ecology
Patricia Keeney, Orpheus in Our World
Kaie Kellough, Magnetic equator 
Canisia Lubrin, The Dyzgraph*st
Daphne Marlatt, Intertidal: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968 – 2008
Jane Munro, Glass Float
Harold Rhenisch, The Spoken World 
Robin Richardson, Knife throwing through self-hypnosis: poems
Anne Simpson, Strange attractor: poems
John Elizabeth Stintzi, Junebat
Moez Surani, Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real?

See more recommendations on https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/31booksinaugust/ , https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/reading-and-recommending-poems-for-national-poetry-month-2020/ and https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/on-reading-new-work-by-canadian-women-novelists/On reading new work by Canadian women novelists.

Anthologies
Best Canadian poetry 2019   
Measures of astonishment: poets on poetry / presented by the League of Canadian Poets
Caroline Adderson, editor. The Journey prize stories: the best of Canada’s new writers
Nyla Matuk, editor. Resisting Canada: an anthology of poetry
Adam Sol, How a poem moves: a field guide for readers of poetry

Beloved Books on Spiritual Ecology
Tim Dee, Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest
Robert Macfarlane, Underland
Richard Powers, The Overstory
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life

Deepest, Longest and most Transformative Read of 2020
Peter Kingsley, Reality, Catafalque Press, 2020
(and Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom)

International Reads
John Banville, Snow
Neil Gaiman, American Gods: The moment of the storm. 3
Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings
Lily King, Writers and Lovers
Natsuo Kirino, The goddess chronicle
E. J Koh, The magical language of others: A memoir
Raven Leilani, Luster
Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights
William Maxwell, So long, see you tomorrow
Ian McEwan, Machines like me: and people like you
Ian McEwan, Cockroach
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: the revolution
David Mitchell, Utopia
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
Naomi Shihab Nye, Cast away: poems for our time
Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet and Judith
Tommy Pico, Feed
Samantha Power, The Education of an Idealist
Omid Safi, Radical love: teachings from the Islamic mystical tradition
Jake Skeets, Eyes bottle dark with a mouthful of flowers / poems by Jake Skeets
Mirabai Starr, Wild mercy: living the fierce and tender wisdom of the women mystics
Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive
Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough
Ruth Ware, The Turn of the Key
Jennifer Weiner, Big Summer
Niall Williams, This is Happiness
Bob Woodward, Rage

About to read (sometime, soon-ish)
Madhur Anand, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart
Marianne Apostolides, I can’t get you out of my mind: a novel
Nina Berkhout, Why Birds Sing
Carol Bruneau, Brighten the Corner Where You Are: A Novel Inspired by the Life of Maud Lewis
Cathy Marie Buchanan, Daughter of Black Lake
Catherine Bush, Blaze Island
Louise Carson, The Cat Possessed
Dede Crane, Madder Woman
Lorna Crozier, The House the Spirit Builds
Francesca Ekwuyasi, Butter Honey Pig Bread
Heather Haley, Skookum Raven
Catherine Hernandez, Crosshairs
Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society
Shari Lapena, The End of Her
Jessica J. Lee, Two trees make a forest: travels among Taiwan’s mountains & coasts in search of my family’s past
Tanis MacDonald, Mobile
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Mexican Gothic
Noor Naga, Washes, Prays
C.L. Polk, The Midnight Bargain
Damian Rogers, An Alphabet for Joanna: A Portrait of My Mother in 26 Fragments
Johanna Skibsrud, Island
Susan Swan, The Dead Celebrities Club
Emily Urquhart, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me
Natalie Zina Walschots, Hench: a novel

AND…
Jordan Abel, Nishga
André Alexis, The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction
Bill Arnott, Gone Viking
John Barton, Lost Family 
David Bergen, Here the Dark
Wade Davis, Magdalena: river of dreams 
Cory Doctorow, Radicalized
Cory Doctorow, Attack Surface
Gary Geddes, Out of the ordinary: politics, poetry and narrative
Steven Heighton, Reaching Mithymna: among the volunteers and refugees on Lesvos
Kaie Kellough, Dominoes at the Crossroads
David A. Robertson, Black Water
Mark Sampson, All the Animals on Earth
J.R. (Tim) Struthers (Editor), Alice Munro Everlasting: Essays on Her Works II
Mark Truscott, Branches
Ian Williams, Reproduction

Most of these books have come to me through London Public Library, now celebrating 125 years! Thank you!
Others came from Indie bookstores and friends. None from Amazon.

Check out my own books on http://pennkemp.weebly.com/works.html.

Read on ! Read often:)