A panacea of poems in the pandemic

I’m so grateful to Joe Belanger and the Free Press for supporting the arts and local artists.
Poetry really can console and articulate our emotions in the pandemonium of pandemic. But imagine, a local newspaper publishing new poems!  and these three of mine are so beautifully laid out with room for the poems to breathe! But, hey, embrace me from 6 feet away, okay? 🙂

BELANGER: It’s time to embrace London’s poet laureate, Penn Kemp, and all artists

It’s funny the things you think of when the going gets tough.

London poet Penn Kemp explores the pandemic in her writing as the country has a muted celebration of Poetry Month. JOE BELANGER

It’s funny the things you think of when the going gets tough.

Like everyone else in recent weeks, I could feel the sun’s warmth, see the green tips coming through the garden soil and welcome the crocuses.

It’s spring arriving, yet there wasn’t a big smile on my face; no, just the tension of uncertainty and foreboding that goes hand-in-hand with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then I heard Penn Kemp’s voice on the telephone and a smile arrived.

I can’t help it. London’s first poet laureate and one of this country’s great writing talents always offers up some delightful word treats that usually provoke a smile, sometimes laughter and even tears that eventually give way to serious pondering of the words, ideas and observations she so expertly writes on paper.

I should have anticipated the phone call because April is poetry month and, more often than not, a chance for me to reconnect with Kemp, who has written more than 30 books of poetry and drama and is renowned as a spoken word performer.

Penn Kemp is a perpetual reminder to me of why we need our artists and I couldn’t wait to find out how she’s been keeping, but even more excited to find out what she’s doing.

“Life as usual for a writer, I’m at home,” said Kemp, for whom a degree of isolation is a natural consequence of her art.

“But we feel it all so deeply. The irony and the consolation or disparity in it all is spring’s arrival – the return of warmth against the depths of sadness and sorrow of so many people passing. There’s so much information coming at us, we’re inundated with so much grief. For me, poetry can console.”

And then I read her new words, in her new poem titled, What We Remember, words this horror has provoked that grabbed my heart and told me I am not alone. The opening stanza drawing tears . . .

So many are leaving the planet and yet

are with us, still and still.

How they hover,

the lost, the bewildered, the wild ones!

Clearly life during a pandemic hasn’t escaped Kemp’s gaze or understanding; it has provoked her muse to sing.

There are two more poems, each with compelling observations, perhaps even provocations. It is what Kemp must do, even though she won’t get paid this month when she is often on tour to celebrate her art. It is why I feel so compelled to write about our artists.

“I so believe in the power of community yet everything we relied upon has shifted — to ‘host’ has become a negative and even ‘positive’ (test) has become a negative,” said Kemp.

“What the arts really does is offer a vehicle for the expression of emotion, whether we’re creating or we’re a recipient, you can share in the collective expression of sorrow and suffering and sense that we are together, that humanity is facing this together.”

And I smile again because I don’t feel so alone.

I’m feeling hopeful again because the power of the arts continues to churn, inspiring and, yes, comforting.

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress


The Big Ask

In times of crises we count on the arts for respite,
relief, relaxation and articulation of our response
and reaction to a compounded new normal. As if

unknowns have not always been nearby, hovering
at edge of sight, beyond reach but closing in now,
still unknown. All our questions rise without reply.

How long.

The difference is now we know for once what we
did not know, can’t know, don’t want to face, hid
under cover. But special masks hand-sewn as if to

protect let us feel we are doing our bit, let us act in
dispelling disconnect, overwhelm of circumstance.
Art helps us stitch together disparity or discontent.

This poem will not reveal statistics, won’t describe
missing medical gear, what remains undelivered,
how many gravesites prepared, how much suffering—

how many gone. We have aps for that, as numbers
grow beyond belief but not beyond hope nor help.

Frontline workers, be praised. May all you need be
yours now. May salaries be raised. May you rest
till the rest is easy. May your harvest be in health

not death, not calculated statistics of raised risk.
Do care for yourselves just as you care for others.

We wait, sequestered, connected, isolated, missing
touch, missing what we used to call normal, what
we used to do long ago just last month. We wait for

the weight to lift, to remember we are safe at home,
not stuck. We also serve who stay indoors and wait.

May home be our haven. May we shelter in place,
in peace of mind. Confinement’s just fine for now,
home stead, home stayed and schooled in the new.

Mind the gap, the gulf between then and now as
broadcasts sweep over: they are not forever. Turn
off the hourly news. Tune in to spring joys instead.

We can gather in the power of dandelion greens.
Warmer weather is not another postponed elective.

Even though last night, lightning and hail the size
of loonies lit up the sky at the pink full moon, no
frogs are raining and forsythia has not forsaken us.

Toads are peeping, myrtle is purpling and the sun,
sweet sun, is warming our faces as forget-me-nots
pop their determined way up through damp earth.

What is essential, what urgent when baselines shift?
Spontaneous dance parties and web performance
lighten fatigue, the philosopher’s moral dilemma.

The consolation of poetry is the resilience of words
given to comfort or challenge, compare and contrast.

What is grief but love unexpressed? What is love but
expression? Giving, not in, not out, but forth, giving
over to you. The game’s a match. Love won. Love all.

Penn Kemp
April 8, 2020

What We’ll Remember

How first scylla sky shimmers
against the tundra swan’s flight
west and north, north north west.

How many are leaving the planet and yet
are with us, still and still forever.

How they linger,
the lost, the bewildered, the wild ones!

Though tears come easily these days,
we too hover over the greening land

as spring springs brighter than ever
since stacks are stilled and the pipe
lines piping down.

When the peace pipe is lit
and sweetgrass replaces
smog— when the fog of pollution
lifts and channels clear—

Earth take a long breath
and stretches over aeons to come
and aeons past.

Penn Kemp

No Reruns, No Returns

for les revenants

Those who died once from influenza
a century ago, who now are pulled to

a hell realm of eternal return—are you
repeating, reliving the hex of time as if

doomed to replicate the old story you
already lived through? Once is enough.

No need to hover. You have suffered
plenty. You’ve loved and lost all there

is to lose. You have won. You’re one
with all that is. Retreat now to your own

abode. Return home, spirits. You’re no
longer needed here. You are no longer.

Although we honour you and thank
you and remember you each and all,

all those who’ve been called back, called
up from dimensions we can only guess at—

caught in the Great War and carried away
or carried off in the aftermath of influenza—

by this spell, we tell you to go back to
your own time, out of time. Just in time.

May you depart. We don’t know, how can
we tell? where your home is. It’s not here.

Know this virus is not yours. Know this
war is not yours. You are here in our era

by error, by slippage, a rip. You’ve mis-
taken the signage, the spelling in wrong

turns. Now return, by this charm, retreat.
You are dispelled, dismissed, dismantled,

released to soar free from the trance of time.
May you travel well. May you fly free.

Penn Kemp

The poems have been slightly revised.

March is for Women

Celebrating Women’s Day 2020

For Women’s History Month, I’m reading:

Gish Jen, The Resisters
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge                                   and the Teachings of Plants
Marianne Micros, Eye
Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation
Sally Rooney, Conversations with friends: a novel
Laisha Rosnau, Little Fortress
Linn Ullmann, Unquiet
Lidia Yuknavitch, Verge: stories
Leni Zumas, Red Clock

For March 8, I’m celebrating Katerina Vaughan Fretwell’s We Are Malala: poems and art.
From Inanna Publications: “Excellent new review of “We Are Malala” by Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, in honour of #InternationalWomensDay, with thanks to Penn Kemp and The League of Canadian Poets#femlitcan #IWD2020

‘The artwork included in this volume features paintings based on photos of Malala Yousafzai. Fretwell adeptly capture’s unflinching spirit. She brings Malala to life on the page in striking reds and greys. Malala’s eyes dominate, demanding that you engage, that you pay attention. The paintings pay tribute and reflect their counterparts on the page. Readers, take note.’

http://poets.ca/2020/03/06/we-are-malala/

A Canadian artist muses on Malala Yousafzai in poetic dialogue

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
Malala Yousafzai

On the day I read Katerina Vaughan Fretwell’s We Are Malala, a photo appears on my screen’s feed: Malala Yousafzai meets youth activist Greta Thunberg for the first time. Malala and Greta become instant fast friends, and no wonder. Both young women have addressed the United Nations on their respective causes (climate change and girl’s education). When Malala was 17, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Herself now 17, Greta too has been nominated for this high honour. Malala posts the two them, arms around one other. Her caption reads: “Thank you, @gretathunberg” along with a heart emoji.

CNN reports on the meeting of the world’s two most renowned young activists:

Greta Thunberg visited Malala Yousafzai at the University of Oxford. Thunberg is in the UK for a school strike planned for later this week.
Admiration between the two activists was mutual.
“So … today I met my role model,” Thunberg tweeted. “What else can I say?”
“She’s the only friend I’d skip school for,” Yousafzai quipped.*

The dialogue between these young women drew me back to Katerina Vaughan Fretwell’s We Are Malala: poems and art. The connection is appropriate because Fretwell creates a similar evocation of female friendship: hers is by proxy, through the media. Her collection of poems sets up a dialogue between Malala and Fretwell’s own personal history, though the two have never met. Fretwell intertwines her stories with the large context of Malala’s. How do their stories connect, as young women growing up in different times, different continents?  What are the disconnects? Fretwell’s education as a girl is assured in ways that Malala’s never was, but as Fretwell succinctly displays, the similarities of female disempowerment are shocking, despite the poet’s apparent privilege.

It’s essential for women to tell their stories in whatever form best suits. Fretwell’s primary medium is poetry— breathless poems in short lines, reminiscent of the Urdu poetry that Malala might recognize. The poems form an urgent inquiry that Fretwell and Malala share. How does a young woman adapt to the culture in which she was raised? How can she change the culture in which she is immersed?  Both Malala and Fretwell leave their country of birth, for another, safer, saner place. Malala’s exile is involuntary: after the gunshot wound that nearly killed her, she awoke to emergency treatment in Birmingham, England. Fretwell in political protest left the U.S. for Canada, where she still (proudly) resides.

Political poetry is difficult to write because it all too easily swerves into didactic, self-righteous polemics. A good poem follows sound and language itself, leading both the poet and the reader/listener into new and surprising exploration. A political poem tends toward rant, set on the rigid track of a pre-conceived idea or conviction that the poem must adhere to. Political poetry can be written as reaction, in the moment. It has the energy of immediacy, but often it has not had time to cure/ mellow age with a wider perspective. Political poetry is often undigested emotion that has not been realized as art.

In his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth writes that “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind”.

Malala Yousafzai’s history is so moving that our immediate response of empathy and horror can become sentimentally ineffectual. Katerina Fretwell has taken the time necessary to allow emotion to settle into contemplation, into poems that move the reader into wider perspective of understanding that deepens our response. In We Are Malala, Katerina Fretwell walks a fine line, escaping the trap and sensationalized trappings to explore a wider perspective than her personal narrative. The dialectic between poet and her muse continues. These poems stir the reader into action.

But how do we continue activism while we study or pursue our chosen art? How do we manifest that art in action? Fretwell points a way. Her enthusiasm, her passion, ignites and inspires. And Fretwell has several bows in her quiver. Not only is she a widely published and accomplished poet, but she paints as well. The artwork included in this volume features paintings based on photos of Malala Yousafzai. Fretwell adeptly capture’s unflinching spirit. She brings Malala to life on the page in striking reds and greys. Malala’s eyes dominate, demanding that you engage, that you pay attention.  The paintings pay tribute and reflect their counterparts on the page. Readers, take note.

Malala,
this verse serves me well:
So vie with one another in good works

As always, Inanna’s production values are impeccable, so that the font is easy on the eye, the pages sturdy and Fretwell’s art work subtle and powerful in reflecting the poems.

One of the best editors of our time, Harold Rhenisch, is acknowledged, “non pareil”, as pulling the poet out of the politics and into the poetry: an essential task, this conversion from reportage. News, undigested, is unlikely to stay new. To endure, it must be transformed into art.  In William Carlos Williams’s famous line, “It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack// of what is found there” And to Ezra Pound, “Poetry is news that stays news” (

Reactions to “ecological grief” and “climate depression” are given form in these poems and by their expression, that grief, no matter how bleak is alleviated in the very act of creation. As Malala writes, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Fretwell joins the chorus of women speaking their many truths. “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” At this perilous time, we need artists to tell their histories and to inspire and encourage transformative change.

Like Henry Vaughan, her poetic and literal ancestor from the seventeenth century, Fretwell contemplates “The World”. Vaughan writes, in his famous poem of the same name:

Time in hours, days, years,
Driv’n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world
And all her train were hurl’d…

The darksome statesman hung with weights and woe,
Like a thick midnight-fog mov’d there so slow,
He did not stay, nor go;
Condemning thoughts (like sad eclipses) scowl
Upon his soul,
And clouds of crying witnesses without
Pursued him with one shout. **

Fretwell too, takes on the world. Her “clouds of crying witnesses” are young women activists in hot pursuit of injustice. They are intent on holding “the darksome stateman”, in all his guises, to account.

Some of Fretwell’s phrases will ring in your head long after you have put the book down. My favourite lines in the book link spirit and the natural world:

Once all women could talk to trees.
*
I still chant to forests, seeing chi—
silvery energy—pulsing around twig,

leaf, branch, bole. The whole.

The last lines of this book are a rallying call:

United we thrive, divided we die.
All souls. All sentience.

Sentenced to prescience, We Are Malala.

* https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/25/world/malala-greta-thunberg-meet-trnd/index.html
** https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45434/the-world-56d2250cca80d

Penn Kemp

malala-yousafzai-nobel-peace-prize

This essay appears on http://poets.ca/2020/03/06/we-are-malala/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Year of Happily Reading

BOOKS READ

An odd collection but then 2019 was an odd year!

Thanks to London Public Library for most of these books! And to indie bookshops and small press publishers. Long may you thrive!

penn-1950

Jon Acuff, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done

Elizabeth Alexander, How Lovely the Ruins

Andre Alexis, Days by Moonlight

Nina Allan, The Rift

Kate Atkinson, Transcription
Kate Atkinson, Big Sky

Atticus. The dark between stars

Margaret Atwood, Power politics: poems /introduction by Jan Zwicky
Margaret Atwood, The Testaments

Mona Awad, Bunny

Chris Bailey, Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction

James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

Jo Baker, The Body Lies

John Banville, The sea

Linwood Barclay, A Noise Downstairs

Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls

Julian Barnes, The Only Story

Mike Barnes, Braille rainbow: poems

T.A. Barron, Atlantis Rising
T.A. Barron, Merlin’s Dragon
T.A. Barron, Merlin’s dragon. Book 2, Doomraga’s revenge

Belinda Bauer, Snap

Ann Beattie, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

Yves Beauchemin, translated by Wayne Grady. The Accidental Education of Jerome Lupien

Frank Beddor, The Looking Glass Wars

Billy-Ray Belcourt, This Wound is a World

Gwen Benaway, Holy wild

Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists

Diana Beresford-Kroeger, To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest

Sharon Berg, Naming the Shadows: stories

Gabrielle Bernstein, May Cause Miracles

bill bissett, Breth: th treez uv lunaria: selektid rare n nu pomes n drawings, 1957-2019

Robert Bly, More Than True: The Wisdom of Fairy Tales

Alan Bradley, The golden tresses of the dead

Gregg Braden, The turning point / creating resilience in a time of extremes

Dionne Brand, The Blue Clerk
Dionne Brand, Theory

Di Brandt, Glitter & fall: Laozi’s, Dao De Jing transinhalations

Brené Brown, Dare to lead: brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts

Julie Bruck, How to avoid huge ships

Carol Bruneau, A circle on the surface

Wanda Easter Burch; with a foreword by Robert Moss, She who dreams: a journey into healing through dreamwork

Anna Burns, Milkman

Augusten Burroughs, Toil & Trouble

Steve Burrows, A Dance of Cranes

Simon Buxton, The Shamanic way of the bee: ancient wisdom and healing practices of the bee masters

Maria Campbell, Halfbreed

Anne Carson, Bakkhai / Euripides

Michael Chabon, Book Ends

Kai Cheng Thom, Fierce femmes and notorious liars: a dangerous trans girl’s confabulous memoir

Tracy Chevalier, A single thread

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise

Ann Cleeves, Cold earth

Cohen, Harry’s trees

Henri Cole, Orphic Paris

Billy Collins, The Rain in Portugal

Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory

Craig Davidson, The Saturday Night Ghost Club

Lauren B. Davis, The Grimoire of Kensington Market

Lisa de Nikolits, The occult persuasion and the anarchist’s solution / a novel

Edmund De Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

Patrick DeWitt, French Exit

Claudia Dey, Heart-Breaker

Kate DiCamillo, The Tales of Despereaux

Cherie Dimaline, Red rooms
Cherie Dimaline, Empire of Wild

Emma Donoghue, The Lotterys More or Less
Emma Donoghue, Akin

David Dowker, Machine Language

Carol Ann Duffy, Rapture

Helen Dunmore, Birdcage walk

Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

Marina Endicott, The Difference

Jenny Erpenbeck; translated by Susan Bernofsky, The end of days

Terry Fallis, Albatross

Amanda Flower, Prose and cons: Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, Book 2

Jonathan Safran Foer, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

Jonathan Franzen, The end of the end of the earth: essays

Tana French, The Witch Elm

Neil Gaiman, The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman, The problem of Susan and other stories. P. Craig Russell, adaptation and art (The Problem of Susan, Locks) ; Scott Hampton, art (October in the Chair); Paul Chadwick, art (The Day the Saucers Came)
Neil Gaiman, Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World
Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good omens: [the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch]

Elizabeth Gilbert, City of Girls

Susan Gillis, Yellow crane

Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers

Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

Philippa Gregory, Tidelands

Lauren Groff, Florida

Camilla Grudova, The Doll’s Alphabet

Steven R. Gundry, The plant paradox cookbook: 100 delicious recipes to help you lose weight, heal your gut, and live lectin-free
Steven R. Gundry, The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age

Samra Habib, We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir

Mark Haddon, The Porpoise

Tessa Hadley, The past

Rick Hanson, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens

Dan Harris and Jeff Warren, Meditation for fidgety skeptics: a 10% happier how-to book

Paul Hawken, ed. Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming

Brian Henderson, Sharawadjii

Elin Hilderbrand, Summer of ’69

Susan Howe, Debths

Helen Humphreys, Machines Without Horses

Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the future: a novel

Mark Hyman, Food: what the heck should I eat?
Mark Hyman, The Blood Sugar Solution
Mark Hyman, MD. Eat fat, get thin: why the fat we eat is the key to sustained weight loss and vibrant health

Inbali Iserles, The mage

Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

Sadie Jones, The Snakes

Eve Joseph, Quarrels: prose poems

Julie Kagawa, Shadow of the Fox

Mary Karr, Tropic of squalor: poems

Byron Katie, written with Stephen Mitchell: Loving what is: four questions that can change your life

Guy Gavriel Kay, A Brightness Long Ago

Thomas King, A matter of malice: a DreadfulWater mystery

Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered

John La Greca, Homeless Memorial: Poems from the Streets of Vernon

Ben Ladouceur, Otter

Mark Laliberte, Brick Brick Brick

Olivia Laing, Crudo

Michiko Kakutani, The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump

Laila Lalami, The other Americans

Lori Lansens, This Little Light

Juliet Lapidos, Talent: a novel

John Le Carré, Agent Running in the Field

Ursula Le Guin, Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books
Ursula Le Guin, No time to spare: thinking about what matters

John Lent, Wood Lake
John Lent, Frieze

Donna Leon, Unto Us a Son is Given

Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud; Fred Jourdain, illustrator ; translation from Mandarin, Min Sun. The blue dragon

Jonathan Lethem, The Feral Detective

Elise Levine, This wicked tongue: stories

Deborah Levy, Things I Don’t Want to Know: A Working Autobiography: a response to George Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Why I write’

Thea Lim, An Ocean of Minutes

Sven Lindqvist, Terra nullius: a journey through no one’s land; translated by Sarah Death

Sam Lipsyte, Hark: a novel

Penelope Lively, Life in the Garden
Penelope Lively, The Road to Lichfield

D.A. Lockhart, Big medicine comes to Erie

Barry Lopez, Horizon

Amanda Lovelace, The princess saves herself in this one

Canisia Lubrin, Voodoo hypothesis: poems

Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive

David Lynch and Kristine McKenna, Room to dream

Sandra Lynn Lynxleg, Glass Beads, Gaspereau Press

Tanis MacDonald, Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City

Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris, The lost words: a spell book
Robert Macfarlane, Underland

Lee Maracle, My conversations with Canadians
Lee Maracle, Talking to the diaspora

Daphne Marlatt, Intertidal: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968-2008

Mark Matousek, Mother of the unseen world: the mystery of Mother Meera  

Susan McCaslin & J. S. Porter, Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine

Elizabeth McCracken, Bowlaway

Ami McKay, Half Spent is the Night
Ami McKay, Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate

Bill McKibben, Falter. Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Circadia

Andrew McMillan Playtime

Jay MillAr, Timely irreverence

Madeline Miller, Circe

Ken Mogi, Awakening your ikigai

  1. M. Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside: Anne of Green Gables Series, Book 8

Sinéad Morrissey, On Balance

Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard

Robert Moss, The secret history of dreaming

Sarah Moss, Ghost Wall

Herta Muller, the fox was ever the hunter

Renée Nault, The handmaid’s tale / [based on the novel by] Margaret Atwood; art & adaptation

Sandra Newman, The Heavens

Cecily Nicholson, Wayside sang: poems

bpNichol, Nights on prose mountain; edited by Derek Beaulieu

Edna O’Brien, Girl

Michelle Obama, Becoming

Chigozie Obioma, An orchestra of minorities

Mary Oliver, At Blackwater Pond: Mary Oliver reads Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver, Upstream: selected essays

Tommy Orange, There There

Susan Orlean, The Library Book

Judith Orloff, The empath’s survival guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People
Judith Orloff, The Power of Surrender

Elaine Pagels, Why Religion?: A Personal Story

Nicholas Papaxanthos, Wearing Your Pants

Ann Patchett, The Dutch House
Ann Patchett, Run

Louise Penny, A Better Man

Sarah Perry, Melmoth

Julia Phillips, Disappearing earth

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Tonguebreaker: poems and performance texts

Signe Pike, The Lost Queen

Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind: what the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence

Maria Popova, Figuring

Max Porter, Lanny
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers

Steven Price, Lampedusa

Philip Pullman, Daemon voices: on stories and storytelling
Philip Pullman, The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth

David Quammen, The Tangled Tree

Joanne Ramos, The Farm

Ian Rankin, In a house of lies

Michael Redhill, Twitch force: poems

Clea Roberts, Auguries: poems

Robin Robertson, The Wrecking Light

Eden Robinson, Trickster Drift

Judith Rodger, Greg Curnoe: life & work

Sally Rooney, Normal People

Laisha Rosnau, Our Familiar Hunger
Laisha Rosnau, The sudden weight of snow

Rena Rossner, The sisters of the winter wood: Forests and forestry

don Miguel Ruiz and Barbara Emrys, The three questions: how to discover and master the power within you

Salman Rushdie, Quichotte

Karen Russell, Orange World and Other Stories

Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness
Oliver Sacks, Everything in its Place: First Loves and Last Tales

Robert Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Anakana Schofield, Bina

Rebecca Scritchfield, Body kindness

W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz; translated by Anthea Bell

Lisa See, The island of sea women: a novel

Diane Setterfield, Once Upon a River
Diane Setterfield, The thirteenth tale

Hana Shafi, It begins with the body: poems & illustrations

Leanne Shapton, Guestbook: Ghost Stories

Robin Sharma, The 5 AM club: own your morning, elevate your life

Dean Sherzai, The alzheimer’s solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age

Vivek Shraya, I’m Afraid of Men

Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, The Yes Brain
Daniel Siegel, The Science and Practice of Presence—A Complete Guide to the Groundbreaking Wheel of Awareness Meditation Practice

Leila Slimani, The Perfect Nanny

Ali Smith, Winter
Ali Smith, Spring

Zadie Smith, Grand Union

Adam Sol, Complicity

Karen Solie, Pigeon: poems
Karen Solie, The Caiplie Caves

Rebecca Solnit, Whose story is this?: old conflicts, new chapters
Rebecca Solnit, Cinderella Liberator

Jen Sookfong Lee, The Animals of Chinese New Year

Heidi Sopinka, The Dictionary of Animal Languages

Lauren St John, Dolphin Song

Elizabeth Strout, Olive, Again: A Novel
Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys

Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth

Tanya Talaga, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

Daniel Tammet, Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing

Drew Hayden Taylor, Chasing painted horses / a novel

William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity fair

Harold Rhenisch, The Spoken World

Joan Thomas, Five Wives

Miriam Toews, Women Talking

Dania Tomlinson, Our Animal Hearts

Rose Tremain, Trespass

Mark Truscott, Branches

Ayelet Tsabari, The Art of Leaving

Anne Tyler, Clock Dance

Arielle Twist, Disintegrate/dissociate: poems

Priscila Uppal, On second thought

Luis Alberto Urrea, The House of Broken Angels

Katherena Vermette, river woman

Alberto Villoldo, Grow a new body: how spirit and power plant nutrients can transform your health

Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Richard Wagamese, Embers: one Ojibway’s meditations

Martin Walker, A taste for vengeance
Martin Walker, The body in the castle well

Clemantine Wamariya, The Girl Who Smiled Beads

Phoebe Wang, Admission requirements

Izabella Wentz, Hashimoto’s food pharmacology: nutrition protocols and healing recipes to take charge of your thyroid health

Walt Whitman, Live oak, with moss; art by Brian Selznick . Commentary by Karen Karbiener, Whitman scholar

Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein

Peter Wohlleben, The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature’s Secret Signs
Peter Wohlleben, The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things

Tom Wolfe, The Kingdom of Speech

Anthology

Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada

Howard White & Emma Skagen, editors; Beyond forgetting: celebrating 100 years of Al Purdy with a forward by Steven Heighton

Ian Williams, editor; The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2018

Hua Laura Wu, Xueqing Xu, Corinne Bieman Davies, editors; Toward the North: stories by Chinese Canadian writers

Poems and texts; an anthology of French poems, translations, & interviews with Ponge, Follain, Guillevic, Frenaud, Bonnefoy, DuBouchet, Roche & Pleynet  

Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Penguin book of the prose poem: from Baudelaire to Anne Carson / edited and introduced by Jeremy Noel-Tod

An enduring wilderness: Toronto’s natural parklands / photographs by Robert Burley; with writing by Anne Michaels, Michael Mitchell, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Alissa York, George Elliott Clarke, Wayne Reeves

DVDS SEEN

Anne of Green Gables: fire & dew; directed by John Kent Harrison

Doctor Who: the two doctors

Paul Goodman Changed My Life: The Life and Work of an Influential Philosopher

Black panther / directed by Ryan Coogler

The Square

Top of the lake directed by Jane Campion
Top of the lake. China girl directed by Jane Campion

Killing of the Sacred Deer. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer takes its name, Iphigenia in Aulis. Dating back to 405 BCE, Agamemnon and his men are stranded on an island because the goddess of the hunt, Artemis, has suspended the winds they require to set sail for Troy. If the war effort is to continue—and it must—he has to sacrifice his own daughter, Iphigenia, because he was previously responsible for the death of a sacred deer belonging to the goddess.”

Madame Bovary

Miss Julie

Regarding Susan Sontag: Portrait of a Feminist Icon

Paris was a Woman

To the Ends of the Earth

Counterpart

Colette

Hereditary directed by Ari Aster

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2

The Good Karma Hospital. Series 1

Faces places; written and directed by Agnès Varda and J.R. Watched a glorious doc, Faces Places by Agnes Varda and J.R.: she’s 80 something.  So moving; you’d love it: colour galore!

Claire’s Camera

Primaire

The Sisters Brothers

Agatha Raisin. Series one

Crooked house

Notes on a scandal; directed by Richard Eyre

The Little Stranger. Based on Sarah Waters

On Chesil Beach

The spy who dumped me directed by Susanna Fogel

The children act; directed by Richard Eyre. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan

Isle of dogs / directed by Wes Anderson

Risk

The White Queen

Blackkklansman directed by Spike Lee

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Dir: Marielle Heller. With a screenplay by film-maker Nicole Holofcener. Melissa McCarthy Sharp objects

The crown. The complete second season

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Americans. The complete fifth season

At Eternity’s Gate by Julian Schnabel

A Star is Born

The White Queen

Mum. Season one

First reformed directed by Paul Schrader: two quotes from Merton!!  Activism and faith… good commentary on DVD.

The Bookshop

Greta

If Beale Street could talk. Barry Jenkins from James Baldwin

Harold and Maude

At Eternity’s Gate. Willem da Foe as Vincent van Gogh

Fahrenheit 11/9 directed by Michael Moore

Crazy Rich Asians

On the basis of sex. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Good Karma Hospital. Series 2

Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker –in Broadchurch, new showrunner Chris Chibnall

The Wife

Private Life

Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started A Scientific Revolution. I was listening to David Quammen, The Tangled Tree: A net more than a tree. “In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT. In The Tangled Tree David Quammen, “chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them—such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.”

July 19, 2019: Entropy indeed! But the construction continues from 7am till 6pm, making the entire house and my nervous system vibrate!  Not today, there were several wild thunderstorms and more to come, even hail!  And a tornado watch. So I’ve been watching videos…The Wife (astounding; have you seen it?  Glenn Close is mesmerizing. Symbiotic Earth: Lynn Margolis Rocked the Boat & Started A Scientific Revolution. Brilliant woman!  A Private War, with Rosamund Pike totally inhabiting war correspondent Marie Colvin. About to see My Brilliant Friend. All from our Library, so I’m out of date but what a treat: I don’t usually watch: we don’t have TV, just the monitor:).

A private war. Marie Colvin.

My Brilliant Friend. July 21, 2019:  During the storms, I’ve been watching My Brilliant Friend… amazing corollary depicting so vividly Ferrante’s story! I just saw MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, based on Ferrante. Brilliant indeed!

Shetland. Season four

Vera 8

RBG

Mary Queen of Scots. Dir: Josie Rourke, played by Saoirse Ronan. Margot Robbie plays her nemesis, Queen Elizabeth I, and David Tennant is John Knox

Victoria, Season 3

Poetry in America. Season 1; director, Elisa New

In the dark, directed by Gilles Banner, Ulrik Imitiaz Rolfsen

The Durrells in Corfu. The complete third season. Watched The Durrels in Corfu series with the kids: sweet.

Killing Eve; Based on the novellas by Luke Jennings. I recovered by watching Killing Eve and fast forwarding through the ‘kills’.  Brilliant and weird.  Sandra Oh is a marvel. Have you watching Killing Eve? Mesmerizingly weird! Oh Sandra Oh!

The child in time. Watching Cumberbatch in “A Child in Time” and about to see, next cloudy day, “Patrick Melrose”.

Patrick Melrose. David Nicholls turned Edward St Aubyn’s books into a heart-wrenching account of abuse and addiction, carried by a majestic Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict as Patrick… I cdn’t get through the novels, too disturbing. I don’t really understand the gay sensibility of those times, like “Suddenly, Last Summer”.

Us

Gloria Bell

The seagull

Infinity: the ultimate trip / produced by Alberto Villoldo
A Handful of Dust
Apollo 11: Mission to the Moon

Departure/ director, Andrew Steggall

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Green Book

Fantastic beasts: the crimes of Grindelwald / directed by David Yates

24 frames / a film by Abbas Kiarostami

My Week With Marilyn

Small Island. Based on the novel by Andrea Levy

Late Night with Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling

Pina / directed by Wim Wenders

High Life, Claire Denis

Beloved

The Little Drummer Girl

Penn Novel Idea Kingston 2018

Reading at Novel Idea, Kingston. Photo by Andrew Simms.

 

 

 

Grazing the Face of Climate Change: a poem

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

Poems & Plays for Sale, by the Book-full!

Books are the best gift for a time of self-isolation!  A shout-out to Canadian small press publishers and indie bookshops.  Long may you thrive! Your health all round!

Here are my recent offerings for your wish list, to share with poetry- and play-loving pals.

If you order the books from me, I’ll sign them for you!

Penn Kemp
525 Canterbury Road
London Ontario N6G 2N5
pennkemp@gmail.com

Or order from Amazon*. Details below.

From Insomniac Press*, $2O + tax + postage:

River Revery front back cover

Celebrating local writers! https://lfpress.com/entertainment/books/new-books-by-london-and-area-authors-just-in-time-for-christmas

Local Heroes cover good

From Quattro Books*, $2O + tax + postage:

FoxHaunts-Cover

barbaric-cultural-practice_front-cover

Also, prose to celebrate Jack Layton: Love, Hope and Optimism, Ongoing!*

960121_10151616103230020_1383103619_n

Travel to Ancient Egypt with me for $6 + tax +postage!

Helwa cover

Or this fabulous hand-made chapbook from Mother Tongue Books for $50 + tax +postage!

Suite Ancient Egypt

If you love plays and local history, two of my plays about Victorian explorer Teresa Harris are available: https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-dream-life-of-teresa-harris and https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-triumph-of-teresa-harris.

And this anthology,  available only from me. $20 in this format.  But for $12, without the colour, order from https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/performing-women.

performing-women-2016

* Find my books on https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=Penn+Kemp&ref=nb_sb_noss.

You can also find them in your Library, I hope. Certainly London Public Library has them all, plus CDs and DVDS.

Blessings for a Joyous Holiday! 

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

Poems for Sale: a wish list for you

Books are the best gift for upcoming holidays… a respite from the rush.

Here are my recent offerings to share with poetry- and play-loving pals.

If you order from me, I’ll sign them as you wish!
Penn Kemp
525 Canterbury Road
London Ontario N6G 2N5
pennkemp@gmail.com

Or order from Amazon*. Details below.

From Insomniac Press*, $2O + tax + postage:

River Revery front back cover

Local Heroes cover good

From Quattro Books*, $2O + tax + postage:

FoxHaunts-Cover

barbaric-cultural-practice_front-cover

Also, prose to celebrate Jack Layton: Love, Hope and Optimism, Ongoing!*

960121_10151616103230020_1383103619_n

Travel to Ancient Egypt with me for $6 + tax +postage!

Helwa cover

Or this fabulous hand-made chapbook from Mother Tongue Books for $50 + tax +postage!

Suite Ancient Egypt

If you love plays and local history, two of my plays about Victorian explorer Teresa Harris are available: https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-dream-life-of-teresa-harris and https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/the-triumph-of-teresa-harris.

And this anthology,  available only from me. $20 in this format.  But for $12, without the colour, order from https://www.canadianplayoutlet.com/products/performing-women.

performing-women-2016

* Find my books on https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=Penn+Kemp&ref=nb_sb_noss.

Blessings for a Joyous Holiday!
Penn

Listening to the River

“London poet Penn Kemp helps explore identity at Wordsfest”

The Thames River moves swiftly through London’s Kilally Meadows, a turn in the river at the end of Windermere Road that is eating away at the bank, carving a new history in its journey.

It’s here on the Thames, two kilometres from her childhood home that poet, spoken word performer and playwright Penn Kemp has found inspiration that culminated in River Revery, her 31st book of poetry and drama.

It will be launched Saturday at the sixth annual Words, London’s literary and creative arts festival, also known as Wordsfest, being held at Museum London Friday through Sunday.

Wordsfest will feature 40 Canadian authors, poets, writers, songwriters and other literary stars. It’s a “celebration of creative ideas, artistic expression and cultural diversity,”  where the concept of identity will be the theme.

“The Thames River is the very centre of London – look at the forks downtown – the very heart of the city, the flow, the current and the influence,” said Kemp, sitting under a sunny sky days ago a few metres from the river.

In Kemp’s new book is the poem Riparian, inspired by the place where we had just been walking and this excerpt reflects our view:

Woodcocks drum in May at Kilally Meadows as
mallard mothers introduce their pride to water.

Cattails sieve sediment in the marsh. Let alone.
Carrying on. There a dead ash stands undercut by
spring current sweeping without resistance among
dangled roots. On topmost branch, the local osprey,
intent on a shoal of suckers suspended in shadow,

catches sunlight, breast gleaming, before plummeting
with curved claws to pluck family breakfast.”

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Kemp will be in conversation with Diana Beresford-Kroeger, an author, medical biochemist and botanist who wrote the forward for River Revery.

Beresford-Kroeger is the author of several books, including To Speak for the Trees, released in September. She was named a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2011 and named by the society as one of 25 women explorers of Canada.

The Thames, its tributaries and the land it flows through is the land of Kemp’s childhood, where she wondered and dreamed and played and ran and walked and rode a bike.

The river meanders through her work, including her plays about Teresa Harris, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris (2013) and The Triumph of Teresa Harris (2017).

Harris was born in 1839, youngest of the 12 children of Royal Navy Capt. John Harris, one of the city’s earliest settlers and builder of Eldon House. The house was owned by the family until 1960 when it was donated to the city as a museum, while much of its property along the Thames became Harris Park.

Teresa, an independent minded adventurer, inspires not only Kemp’s work but also her heart.

River Revery, dedicated to Kemp’s grandchildren, is not just a book of poems; it’s a collaboration with London artist Mary McDonald, who provided photos and animations to support Kemp’s words. The website riverrevery.ca includes the full breadth of the work, which was first revealed at last year’s Wordsfest.

Kemp is also a wealth of knowledge about the Thames. She tells me the Thames is called Deshkan Ziibi (Antler River) in the Ojibwe language, but it was named by Lt.-Gov. John Graves Simcoe after its British namesake – a name itself rooted in the ancient Celtic language and meaning the Dark One.

“I really think we need to return to listening to what the river and the land are telling us,” said Kemp, a lifelong environmentalist and activist.

“Ever since I was a tiny child, I’ve tried to articulate the mystery not expressed in words – the river, trees, the birds – . . . and I’m still trying to translate the mystery. I believe if I’m listening I can hear one maple.”

Kemp gets irritated with anthropomorphism of nature by people making it appear and behave as a human being even though the rivers, trees, animals and land are distinct entities.

“The land is not limited to our sensibilities or understanding and comprehension,” said Kemp.

“That’s where the listening comes in . . . We’ve been trained to project, transfer our humanness values to nature and the truth is nature is so much longer lived. It has its own life. It breathes so much longer than we do. We have to get back to honouring the land as the Indigenous People did before colonialism.”

Kemp said the Thames is more than a “metaphor” of the identity of London. “It’s the reality of our identity, staring us in the face, asking for recognition, to be honoured and valued, not just to be used,” she said.

Wordsfest artistic director Joshua Lambier said the festival’s theme of identity is about “re-imagining Souwesto” referring to name coined by the late London artist Greg Curnoe for Southwestern Ontario.

Lambier said identity will be explored from a variety of angles, including the “notion of the Forest City,” which Kemp and Beresford-Kroeger will explore, and the relationship between “creativity and identity,” which a panel hosted by award-winning author Nino Ricci, the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity at Western University, will discuss Saturday at 4 p.m.

“The great thing about Wordsfest is the diversity of the content, so there should be something for everyone,” said Lambier.

“We try to bring the Western University campus downtown to the people of London who want to meet and see national authors, but also our local writers who will all be discussing new ideas, new books, new artistic approaches.”

Joe Belanger, The London Free Press, October 31, 2019

GOING WITH THE FLOW: Kemp a natural at Wordsfest C1

London poet helps explore identity at sixth-annual Wordsfest

Penn102019 Belanger

Photo: Joe Belanger

Believe…

In the space of a year she has learned to sit,
to stand, to walk, to totter forward in a run.

She has seen one full round of the seasons.
She wraps her family round her little finger.

Now just before dusk we stroll hand in hand
to witness the evening ritual of geese return.

Gliding along the Thames in formation, they
skim overhead, flapping slow time in synch.

She studies their procedure, dropping my hand
to edge forward, neck outstretched, arms aero-

dynamically angled. She flaps and flaps along
the bank, following their flight, ready for that

sudden lift. Again, again, till the last goose has
flown. Dragging her heels home, disconcerted,

she braces her body against the rising breeze,
bewildered that she too can’t take off to sky

but game to try again tomorrow, convinced
the birds’ secret will soon belong to her.

believe 2018 Mary McDonald

 

Presenting RIVER REVERY

My new collection of poems is available from https://insomniacpress.com/new-releases.

RIVER REVERY

Rivers are often used in mythology to represent boundaries; to cross the river is to transform. The poems in RIVER REVERY reflect the river Thames as it winds through the city of London, Ontario. Because the Thames forks into two streams at the city’s core, it was called Askunessippi, “the antlered river,” by the original Algonquin inhabitants. For Indigenous communities, it is “Deshkan Ziibiing.” In re-naming the river the Thames, English settlers colonized forbidding new territory as an imitation of ‘home,’ rather than embracing the vibrancy of the river as it is. A distillation of ecological concern is a current necessity in RIVER REVERY. Such inspiration in poetry is one source for right action since the Thames waters our gardens, real and imaginary.

Poetry  ·   $19.95  ·  Trade paperback  ·  ISBN 978-1-55483-238-5 ·  122 pages  ·  5″ x 8”

River Revery

The London Free Press is marvellous at supporting local arts. Check out this interview on RIVER REVERY at Killaly Meadow! https://lfpress.com/entertainment/books/london-poet-helps-explore-identity-at-wordsfest?fbclid=IwAR0KU-ArMTmBwAmQ5IhMXix-Lm-QhSrlOCEWMBLF3_gywQS3uFy3gtk8p88

RIVER REVERY was launched at the glorious WORDS: The Literary and Creative Arts Festival Museum London!  I was honoured to be “In Conversation” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger. An indomitable visionary, Diana was launching her essential new book:

To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest  

Our conversation was moderated by beloved rogue psychiatrist, Nina Desjardins to a full house, with lively audience participation.

All fired up! A triad of women offer the courage and resilience of heart, imagination and action to face climate change and tip the balance towards recovery.

Penn Nina Diana Jake Wordsfest by PatriciaWith Nina Desjardins, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, me and my son Jake Chalmers at the book signing after our Wordsfest “In Conversation”! FUN! Thanks, everyone for filling the hall… and THANKS, Wordsfest! My reading from RIVER REVERY  was sponsored by The League of Canadian Poets. https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/river-revery/

The video of “In Conversation” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger was recorded by the ever-brilliant Dennis Siren: https://youtu.be/lf_apKTzpgQ, for all those needing inspiration!
A poem from RIVER REVERY is in the 2019 http://wordsfest.ca/zine.

My reading was funded by Canada Poetry Tours, The League of Canadian Poets @canadianpoets and the Canada Council for the Arts,

.Poets logo    logo

RIVER REVERY features photographs by Mary McDonald and QR codes linking to poetry films by Mary McDonald and by Dennis Siren.

Animations and sound explorations of several of the poems by media artist extraordinaire Mary McDonald are up on RiverRevery.ca as well as news about the poetry films: they are shown in festivals everywhere! You can add to this community project on #RiverReveryLdn. An Augmented Reality, multimedia animation collaboration, with thanks to @LdnArtsCouncil #CommunityArtsInvestmentProgram

RIVER REVERY is dedicated to my grandchildren, Ula and Kai… and to all the grand children who will carry on!

Shall we rename the Thames? The Antler River!

Yours in the current’s flow,
Penn

Pendas Productions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“In the Words of Penn Kemp”, 2012

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

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

PoemforPeaceVol2BerniceVincentpaintingVocal Braidings.hmtb.front cover.200gatheringvoicesbanner

Solution: a poem

This poem is up on the front page of the current https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/.

What a fabulous image to accompany the poem!

frogs

 

Solution

We two skalds sit together side by
each, looking out over centuries.

We watch the stirred pot settle till
murky situations sweetly clarify of

their own accord, attuned to an old
rhythm whose resonance is our song.

We watch the seasons’ rush, leaves
deciding on whether it’s spring or

fall. The creek is slowly turning into
pond, so water plants blithely tell.

And the frogs declare they’re home.
They’re not going anywhere else

now that our water levels equal
spirit level. Toads will return in

time to lay a million unimpeded
eggs, a myriad tadpoles and more

toads a fingernail long to bide a
while as lares in their garden lair

awaiting the Goddess.

Penn Kemp