London, Ontario

Thinking of this poem on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, April 26, 1986.
Painting by Jim Kemp.

Smog Alert

Throughout our listening areajimkemppaintingfigureblueskirtseatedbraque
light pollution. Evening haze

drifts down from some secret smelter
depending on which wind blows. Small

particulate matter fills the air, fills our lungs
with tiny lumps that hang there undetected
except we can no longer fully breathe.

Cosmic clouds descend upon us. Below
breath. Below thought. Below bellow.

Probability of precipitation. Mixed rain
and thunder showers. Severe weather

warning. War in heaven, warming
torrents into twisters. Forecast unforeseen.

The radio calls for showers.  Fog patches.
Clouds clog the mind, crowding thought.

Now calm come… clear of cloud…
I’m thinking stars. Or stars are thinking me.

Where are they? Beyond the veil, still
twinkling, emitting their own dust trails.

Sound/performance poet Penn Kemp lives in London, Ontario.  UWO has asked her to be writer-in-residence for 2009-2010.  Among her publications are more than twenty-five books of poetry and drama, ten CDs of Sound Opera and…

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Books read and recommended

An eclectic collection!  But then I started young:)

penn-1950

Books Read, 2015-6.  I’m surprised at the gender balance in books I’ve read over the last two years: I would have thought I’d read more women. You can tell I go on author-binges… Most books came from London Library, with my thanks.

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
Caroline Adderson, Ellen in Pieces
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Jussi Adler-Olsen, The keeper of lost causes
Jussi Adler-Olsen; translated by William Frost. The hanging girl
Carmen Aguirre, Mexican hooker #1: and my other roles since the revolution
Madhur Anand, A new index for predicting catastrophes: poems
Gail Anderson-Dargatz, The Spawning Grounds
Alaa Al Aswany, The Automobile Club of Egypt

Kamal Al-Solaylee, Intolerable: a memoir of extremes

Isabel Allende, The Japanese lover: a novel
Martin Amis, The zone of interest: a novel
Amish, The secret of the Nagas

Andre Alexis, Fifteen Dogs: An Apologue
Andre Alexis, The Hidden Keys

Marguerite Andersen, The bad mother / translated by Donald Winkler
Donald Antrim, The emerald light in the air: stories
John Ashbery, Breezeway: new poems
Kevin Ashton, How to fly a horse: the secret history of creation, invention, and discovery
Kate Atkinson, Human Croquet
Kate Atkinson, God in Ruins
Kate Atkinson, Not the End of the World
Kate Atkinson, Started early, took my dog
Kate Atkinson, When will there be good news?  

Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last
Margaret Atwood, Hag-Seed
Margaret Avison, The essential Margaret Avison: [poems] selected by Robyn Sarah
Mona Awad,13 ways of looking at a fat girl
Ken Babstock, On Malice
Julianna Baggott, Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders
Marie Annharte Baker, Indigena awry
Sarah Bakewell, At the existentialist café: freedom, being and apricot cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre [and others]
Muriel Barbery, The Life of Elves

Jo Baker, A country road, a tree

Pat Barker, Noonday: a novel

Julian Barnes, Keeping an eye open: essays on art
Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time
James Bartleman, Exceptional circumstances: a novel
Gary Barwin, Yiddish for pirates: being an account of Moishe the Captain, his Meshugeneh life & astounding adventures, his Sarah, the horizon, books & treasure, as told by Aaron, his African grey p 110
Stephen Batchelor, After Buddhism: rethinking the Dharma for a secular age

Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother

Ann Beattie, The state we’re in: Maine stories

Linda Bender, Animal wisdom: learning from the spiritual lives of animals

Melanie Benjamin, The swans of Fifth Avenue
Elizabeth Berg, The dream lover: a novel

Nina Berkhout, The gallery of lost species

Wendell Berry, Our only world: ten essays

Clark Blaise, Essays on His Works, ed. J.R. (Tim) Struthers

Harold Bloom, The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime
Judy Blume, In the unlikely event
Giles Blunt, The hesitation cut
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: discovering the woman at the heart of Christianity
Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God

Erin Bow, The swan riders

Gail Bowen, What’s left behind
George Bowering, The world, I guess: poems
Joseph Boyden, Wenjack
Nadia Bozak, Thirteen Shells
Alan Bradley, Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Alan Bradley, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

Dionne Brand, Love Enough
Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord

Peter Brooks, editor with Hilary Jewett, The humanities and public life
Brené Brown, Rising strong
Brené Brown, Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead
Carrie Brownstein, Hunger makes me a modern girl: a memoir
Jan Bruce, Andrew Shatte, Adam Perlman, Mequilibrium: 14 days to cooler, calmer, and happier
Carol Bruneau, These good hands
Bill Bryson, The road to Little Dribbling: more notes from a small island
NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names
Jessie Burton, The Muse

Steve Burrows, A Siege of Bitterns
Steve Burrows, A pitying of doves
Roberto Calasso, Ardor; translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
Julia Cameron with Emma Lively, It’s never too late to begin again: discovering creativity and meaning at midlife and beyond
Peter Carey, Amnesia
Anne Carson, Glass, irony, and God; introduction by Guy Davenport
Anne Carson, Short talks; with a new afterword by the author and a new introduction by Margaret Christakos

Helen Castor, Joan of Arc: a history
Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Bohemian Gospel
Tracy Chevalier, Burning bright
Tracy Chevalier, At the edge of the orchard

Lee Child, Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel
Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World?

Margaret Christakos, Her paraphernalias: on motherlines, sex/blood/loss & selfies
Dawson Church, The genie in your genes: epigenetic medicine and the new biology of intention

George Elliott Clarke, The Motorcyclist

Joan Clark, The Birthday Lunch

Ann Cleeves, Thin air

Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Stronger together: a blueprint for America’s future

Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of glory: a memoir
J. M. Coetzee, The good story: exchanges on truth, fiction and psychotherapy

Michael C Corballis, A Very Short Tour of the Mind: 21 Short Walks Around the Human Brain

Daniel Allen Cox, Mouthquake, Arsenal Pulp Press
Joan Crate, Black apple: a novel

David Cronenberg, Consumed
Lynn Crosbie, Life Is About Losing Everything
Lorna Crozier, The wild in you: voices from the forest and the sea
Michael Crummey, Hard light Michael Crummey, Little dogs: new and selected

Amy Cuddy, Presence: bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges
Michael Cunningham, The snow queen: a novel
Michael Cunningham, A Wild Swan: And Other Tales
Michael Cunningham, A home at the end of the world
Kayla Czaga, For Your Safety Please Hold On
Roald Dahl, The BFG
Ram Dass, Polishing the mirror: how to live from your spiritual heart
Meghan Daum, The unspeakable: and other subjects of discussion
Lauren B. Davis, Against a darkening sky

Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t
Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
Don DeLillo, Zero K
Patrick deWitt, Undermajordomo minor
Louis de Bernières, The dust that falls from dreams: a novel
Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy

Elisabeth de Mariaffi, The Devil You Know
Sadiqa de Meijer, Leaving Howe Island
Emily Dickinson, http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/the-online-emily-dickinson-archive.html
Annie Dillard, The Abundance
Diane di Prima, The Poetry deal
Michael Dirda, Browsings: a year of reading, collecting, and living with books
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Before we visit the goddess

Sean Dixon, A God in need of help: a play in two acts (or five, if you think about it)
Sandra Djwa, Journey with no maps: a life of P. K. Page
Anthony Doerr, All the light we cannot see: a novel
Norman Doidge, The brain’s way of healing: remarkable discoveries and recoveries from the frontiers of neuroplasticity
Emma Donoghue, The Wonder

Mark Doty, Deep lane: poems
Marilyn Dumont, The Pemmican Eaters
Kat Duff, The Secret Life of Sleep
Wayne W. Dyer, Memories of heaven: children’s astounding recollections of the time before they came to earth

Umberto Eco, The Book of Legendary Lands
Umberto Eco, Numero zero
Danticat Edwidge, Untwine: a novel
Dave Eggers, A hologram for the king: a novel   And film.
William Egginton, The man who invented fiction: how Cervantes ushered in the modern world

Normandi Ellis, Dreams of Isis: a woman’s spiritual sojourn
Marina Endicott, Close to Hugh
Karen Enns, Ordinary hours
Karen Enns, That Other Beauty
Anne Enright, The Green Road
Louise Erdrich, LaRose
Joel Faflak & Sky Glabush, editors. (Re)imagining Regionalism

Elena Ferrante, My brilliant friend. Book one, Childhood, adolescence
Elena Ferrante, The story of a new name
Elena Ferrante, Those who leave and those who stay
Elena Ferrante, The Story of the Lost Child
Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Australian Booker prize
Tim Flannery, Atmosphere Of Hope: The Search for Solutions to the Climate Crisis
Jonathan Safran Foer, Here I Am

Karen Joy Fowler, We are all completely beside ourselves
Jonathan Franzen, Purity
Antonia Fraser, My History: A Memoir of Growing Up

Antonia Fraser, editor. The pleasure of reading: 43 writers on the discovery of reading and the books that inspired them

Diana Gabaldon, Written in my own heart’s blood
Diana Gabaldon, The Outlandish Companion Volume Two

Neil Gaiman, The sleeper and the spindle
Neil Gaiman, The view from the cheap seats: selected nonfiction
Jonathan Galassi, Muse
Mavis Gallant, A fairly good time: with green water, green sky

Steven Galloway, The confabulist
Connie Gault, A beauty

Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel
Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini, Startle and illuminate: Carol Shields on writing

Camilla Gibb, This Is Happy
Douglas Gibson, Across Canada by story: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure
William Gibson, The Peripheral
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Sky Gilbert, St. Francis of Millbrook
Philip Glass, Words without music: a memoir
Susan Glickman, Safe as houses: a mystery
Louise Glück, Faithful and virtuous night
Michael Golding, A poet of the invisible world
Natalie Goldberg, The great spring: writing, Zen, and this zigzag life
Katherine Govier, The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel: a novel

Catherine Graham, Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects
Laurie D. Graham, Settler Education
James Grainger, Harmless
Germaine Greer, White beech: the rainforest years
Philippa Gregory, The king’s curse
Philippa Gregory, The Taming of the Queen
Philippa Gregory, Three Sisters, Three Queens
Nicola Griffith, Hild
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Sara Gruen, At the Water’s Edge
Hanif Kureishi, The last word
Louise Bernice Halfe, Burning in this midnight dream

Phil Hall, Conjugation

Garth Risk Hallberg, City on Fire
Jane Hamilton, The excellent Lombards

Thich Nhat Hanh, Inside the now: meditations on time
Thich Nhat Hanh, Love

Graham Hancock, Magicians of the gods: the forgotten wisdom of Earth’s lost civilisation
Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale
Rick Hanson, Meditations to change your brain: rewire your neural pathways to transform your life

Michael Harris, Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s radical makeover
Teva Harrison, In-Between Days

Nadia Hashimi, When the moon is low
Paula Hawkins, The girl on the train
Elizabeth Hay, His Whole Life
Seamus Heaney, Human Chain
Steven Heighton, The waking comes late

Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton & 639 others ; Women in Clothes
Carl Hiaasen, Skink no surrender
Tomson Highway, Fox on the ice
Tomson Highway, Caribou song
Tomson Highway, A tale of monstrous extravagance: imagining multilingualism
Oscar Hijuelos, Twain & Stanley enter paradise
Geoffrey Hill, Somewhere is such a kingdom; poems 1952-1971
Lawrence Hill, The Illegal
Lawrence Hill, Dear Sir, I intend to burn your book: an anatomy of a book burning

Jane Hirshfield, Ten windows: how great poems transform the world
Jane Hirshfield, The beauty: poems
Jane Hirshfield, editor, Women in praise of the sacred: 43 centuries of spiritual poetry by women
P.C. Hodgell, The God stalker chronicles
Alice Hoffman, The Marriage of Opposites
Linda Hogan, Intimate nature: the bond between women and animals / edited by Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, and Brenda Peterson

Nick Hornby, Funny Girl
A. E. Hotchner, Hemingway in love: His Own Story

Michel Houellebecq, Submission

Liz Howard, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent

Tom Howell, The Rude Story of English
Helen Humphreys, The Evening Chorus
Aislinn Hunter, The World Before Us
John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
Eowyn Ivey, The snow child: a novel
Eowyn Ivey, To the Bright Edge of the World

Greg Jenkins, Theban oracle: discover the magic of the ancient alphabet that changes lives
Maureen Jennings, Dead Ground In Between

Erica Jong, Fear of dying
Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock
Paul Kalanith, When Breath Becomes Air
A.L. Kennedy, On writing
Christine Kenneally, The invisible history of the human race: how DNA and history shape our identities and our futures
Michael Kenyon, Astatine
Wab Kinew, The Reason You Walk
James King, Inward journey: the life of Lawren Harris

James King, The life of Margaret Laurence

Laurie R. King, The murder of Mary Russell: a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Mary Russell’s War And other stories of suspense

Stephen King, Finders keepers: a novel
Michael Kinsley, Old age: a beginner’s guide
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything
Marie Kondo, Spark joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up

Marie Kondo, The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, All the Broken Things
Hanif Kureishi, The Last Word
Jhumpa Lahiri, In other words; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
M. Travis Lane, Crossover

Patrick Lane, Washita
Lori Lansens, The Mountain Story
Harper Lee, Go Set a Watcher
Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the craft: a twenty-first-century guide to sailing the sea of story

Ursula K Le Guin, The lathe of heaven: a novel

Donna Leon, Falling in love
Donna Leon, The waters of eternal youth
Ben Lerner, 10:04
Ben Lerner, The hatred of poetry

Christopher Levenson, Night vision
Stephen Levine, Becoming Kuan Yin: the evolution of compassion
Tim Lilburn, The names

Tracey Lindberg, Birdie
Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman, Spontaneous evolution: our positive future and how to get there from here
Alex Lloyd with Ben Johnson, The healing code: 6 minutes to heal the source of your health, success, or relationship issue ’
Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora
Ben Macintyre, A spy among friends
Gregory Maguire, After Alice
Emily St. J. Mandel, Station Eleven
Alberto Manguel, Curiosity
Dennis Maloney, Listening to Tao Yuan Ming
Hilary Mantel, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Stephen Marche, The Hunger of the Wolf
Yann Martel, The High Mountains of Portugal

Garth Martens, Prologue for the age of consequence
Giuseppe Mazzotta, Reading Dante
Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
Ian McEwan, The child in time
Ian McEwan, Nutshell

Ami McKay, The Witches of New York
Don McKay, Angular Unconformity
Robert McKee, Dialogue: the art of verbal action for the page, stage, and screen
Sean Michaels, Us Conductors
Valerie Mills-Milde, After Drowning
David Mitchell, Slade House
Tara Mohr, Playing big: find your voice, your mission, your message
JLisa Moore, Open: stories
Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
Toni Morrison, God Help the Child
Erin Moure, Kapusta
Jane Southwell Munro, Grief notes & animal dreams
Jane Munro, Blue Sonoma
Colleen Murphy, Armstrong’s war
George Murray, Glimpse: selected aphorisms
Susan Musgrave, A taste of Haida Gwaii: food gathering and feasting at the edge of the world

Ralph Nader, Unstoppable: the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state
Azar Nafisi, The republic of imagination: America in three books
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Pablo Neruda, Isla Negra / poems by Pablo Neruda; edited by Dennis Maloney
Christiane Northrup, Goddesses never age: the secret prescription for radiance, vitality, and well-being
Joyce Carol Oates, Soul at the white heat: inspiration, obsession, and the writing life

Edna O’Brien, The Little Red Chairs
Flannery O’Connor, A prayer journal
Nuala O’Connor, Miss Emily
Alexandra Oliver, Let The Empire Down
Mary Oliver, Blue horses
Mary Oliver, Dog songs: thirty-five dog songs and one essay
Mary Oliver, Felicity
Alice Oswald, Memorial: a version of Homer’s Iliad; with an afterword by Eavan Boland

Cynthia Ozick, Metaphor & Memory
Cynthia Ozick, Critics, monsters, fanatics, and other literary essays

Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
P.K. Page, Kaleidoscope: selected poems
Kurt Palka, The Piano Maker
Orhan Pamuk, A strangeness in my Mind Being the Adventures and Dreams of Mevlut Karatas, a Seller of Boza, and of His Friends, and Also a Portrait of Life in Istanbul Between 1969 and 2012 From Many Different Points of View
Tim Parks, Where I’m reading from: the changing world of books
Sooyong Park; foreword by John Vaillant, Great soul of Siberia : passion, obsession, and one man’s quest for the world’s most elusive tiger
Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister
Ann Patchett, This is the story of a happy marriage
Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

Molly Peacock, Alphabetique, 26 Characteristic Fictions
Soraya Peerbaye, Tell: poems for a girlhood

Louise Penny, The nature of the beast: a Chief Inspector Gamache novel
Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning

David Perlmutter, Brain Maker: the power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain—for life

Alison Pick, Between gods: a memoir
Jodi Picoult, Leaving Time
Stephen Pinker, Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
Richard Powers, Orfeo
Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
Terry Pratchett, A slip of the keyboard: collected non-fiction
Terry Pratchett, Mrs Bradshaw’s handbook: an illustrated guide to the railway by Mrs Georgina Bradshaw; produced in association with Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway.
Terry Pratchett, The shepherd’s crown

Terry Pratchett, The Long Cosmos

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer: a guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them

Annie Proulx, Barkskins

Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh, The path: what Chinese philosophers can teach us about the good life
Edna O’Brien, The Love Object

Edna O’Brien, The Red Chair
Lisa Randall, Dark matter and the dinosaurs: the astounding interconnectedness of the universe

John Raymond, Tin House, The world split open: great authors on how and why we write

Paula Reeves. CD, Lighting the Forbidden Lamp: A Woman’s Journey to the Self: The myth of Eros and Psyche Retold

Paula Reeves, CD, Every Woman’s Story Cinderella and Her Sisters: The Shadow Side of Envy

Monty Reid, Meditatio placentae: poems
Raziel Reid, When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Ruth Rendell, The girl next door
Ruth Rendell, Dark corners
Nino Ricci, Sleep
Adrienne Rich, Diving into the wreck: poems, 1971-1972

Adrienne Rich, The dream of a common language: poems 1974-1977

Tanis Rideout, Arguments with the lake
Tanis Rideout, Above all things
Marilynne Robinson, Lila
Marilynne Robinson, Balm of Gilead
Jennifer Robson, Moonlight over Paris: a novel
Leon Rooke, The April poems
Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
Robbie Robertson, Testimony

Peter Robinson, When the Music’s Over

Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer, Reading matters: what the research reveals about reading, libraries, and community

Hannah Rothschild, The Improbability of Love

J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts I and II
Armand Garnet Ruffo, Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird
Rumi, Soul fury: Rumi and Shams Tabriz on friendship / translations by Coleman Barks
Salman Rushdie, Two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights: a novel
Sarah Ruhl, Dear Elizabeth: a play in letters from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and back again
Richard Russo, Everybody’s Fool
Oliver W Sacks, On the move: a life
Robyn Sarah, My Shoes Are Killing Me

Jocelyne Saucier, And The Birds Rained Down
John Ralston Saul, The Comeback
Lisa Robertson, Cinema of the present
Paul Savoie, Nocturnes

Lisa Scottoline, Keep Quiet
Nazneen Sheikh, The Place of Shining Light – House of Anansi
Stacy Schiff, The Witches: Salem, 1692
Stacy Schiff, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): portrait of a marriage
Anakana Schofield, Malarky
Anakana Schofield, Martin John

The Shambhala Sun and Andrea Miller, editors, Buddha’s daughters: teachings from women who are shaping Buddhism in the West
Barbara Shapiro, The Art Forger

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Sacred seed / introduction; essays by Patriarch Bartholomew, Pir Zia Inayat-         Khan, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Leonard Shlain, Leonardo’s brain: understanding da Vinci’s creative genius

Jane Smiley, Some luck
Jane Smiley, Horse heaven
Jane Smiley, Early warning
Jane Smiley, Golden age
Alexander McCall Smith, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café
Alexander McCall Smith, Sunshine on Scotland Street: a 44 Scotland Street novel
Alexander McCall Smith, The novel habits of happiness
Alexander McCall Smith, What W.H. Auden can do for you
Ali Smith, Artful
Ali Smith, How To Be Both
Ali Smith [collected by], The book lover
Dominic Smith; The Last Painting of Sara De Vos; narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

Murdoch Neil Smith, Boo: a novel
Patti Smith, The M Train
Tracy K Smith, Life on Mars
Tracy K Smith, Ordinary light: a memoir

Wilbur Smith, Desert God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt
Mary Soderstrom, River music: a novel
Karen Solie, The road in is not the same road out

Carolyn Marie Souaid, This World We Invented
Julia Spencer-Fleming, I shall not want
The Spoken Arts treasury. Volume II: 100 modern American poets reading their poems
William Stafford, Ask me: 100 essential poems
David Staines, editor. The worlds of Carol Shields

Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
Ricardo Sternberg, Map of dreams
Mark Strand, Collected Works
Mark Strand, Eavan Boland, editors, The making of a poem: a Norton anthology of poetic forms
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton

Cordelia Strube, On the shores of darkness, there is light
J.R. (Tim) Struthers, ed. Clark Blaise, Essays on His Works

Noah Strycker, The Thing with Feathers
Rosemary Sullivan, Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Margaret Sweatman, Mr. Jones
Graham Swift, England and other stories
Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday
Magda Szabo, The door; introduction by Ali Smith
Wisława Szymborska, Map: collected and last poems; edited by Clare Cavanagh
Diana Tamblyn, From the earth to Babylon, Book one, the story of Gerald Bull & the supergun
James Tate, Dome of the hidden pavilion : new poems
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to walk in the dark: because sometimes God shows up at night

Patrick Taylor, An Irish doctor in peace and at war: an Irish country novel
Madeleine Thien, Do not say we have nothing

Joan Thomas, The Opening Sky
Judith Thompson, White biting dog & other plays
Russell Thornton, The hundred lives
Kim Thúy, Ru
Sara Tilley, Duke
Colm Toibin, Nora Webster
Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop
Colm Toibin, Brooklyn

Kim Trainor, Karyotype
Tomas Tranströmer, The great enigma: new collected poems; translated from Swedish by Robin Fulton
Rose Tremain The American Lover
Linda Tucker; foreword by Andrew Harvey. Saving the white lions: one woman’s battle to save Africa’s most sacred animal
Anne Tyler, The beginner’s goodbye
Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread
Anne Tyler, Vinegar Girl
Luis Alberto Urrrea, Into the beautiful North : a novel
Jane Urquhart, The Night Stages
David Usher, Let the elephants run : unlock your creativity and change everything
John Vaillant, The Jaguar’s Children
Guy Vanderhaeghe, Daddy Lenin and Other Stories
Mario Vargas Llosa, The discreet hero
M. G Vassanji, Nostalgia: a novel
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Anima Mundi
Norah Vincent, Adeline: a novel of Virginia Woolf
Colleen Wagner, Home

Jo Walton, Among Others

Sarah Waters, The paying guests

Phyllis Webb, Peacock Blue, The Collected Poems

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Robert J. Wiersema, Black Feathers
E. O. Wilson, The meaning of human existence
Simon Winchester, Pacific: silicon chips and surfboards, coral reefs and atom bombs, brutal dictators, fading empires, and the coming collision of the world’s superpowers
Kathleen Winter, Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage
Michael Winter, Into the blizzard: walking the fields of the Newfoundland dead
Jeanette Winterson, The gap of time: The Winter’s Tale retold

David Whyte, The house of belonging
Kym Wolfe, Conversations with the artist Philip Aziz
Tom Wolfe, The Kingdom of Speech

Susan J. Wolfson, Reading John Keats
Marion Woodman’s CD, Emily Dickinson and the Demon Lover

Marion Woodman’s CD, Holding the Tension of Opposites

Marion Woodman’s CD, Rolling Away the Stone

Marion Woodman’s CD, Sitting by the Well

Marion Woodman and Robert Johnson’s CD, When Souls Meet

Richard B. Wright, A life with words: a writer’s memoir
Richard B. Wright, Nightfall
Ronald Wright, The gold eaters

Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Alissa York, The Naturalist
Deanna Young, House Dreams
David Zinczenko, Zero belly diet

On Tradition

 

May 2017 SHINE!

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/12/26/london-new-years-day-chilling-at-home-most-common-tradition.

For a rebel like me, what do I know about tradition? In my youth, along with the rest of my 60’s generation, I cast off all tradition as old hat. I scorned as false the sense of security that tradition offers. We vowed to create everything new! But this year especially, after such world-wide disruption, tradition gives comfort and joy, as the carol’s refrain has it. The old hat fits just right. Nostalgia offers a familiar past that is safer than the unpredictable future. Tradition is a way of handing down a swirling legacy to children and grandchildren, establishing the implant of warm memories. Here’s to plum pudding lit with brandy flame for New Year’s dinner! Christmas cake soaked in rum since early November… eggnog and Handel’s Messiah!

Icelanders have a tradition of giving each other books and then quietly reading at home all through Christmas Eve. I’d be too antsy to read on a night so redolent with anticipation. But I’m ready to establish a new tradition of peacefully reading through New Year’s Day. Reading quietly, very quietly, after the excess of New Year’s Eve. Sinking into the contained comfort of the latest Louise Penny novel. And poetry, luxuriating in the slow process of reading poetry, where not even eyes move fast. My only Resolutions on New Year’s are to eat less, exercise more: sound familiar? By the last Saturday in January, I’m ready for another feast….The clan collects annually for Robbie Burns and a reading of the “Address to the Haggis” before we feast on haggis and tatties. I still resolve to exercise more… later. My feeble rendition of the “Address to the Haggis” is up on https://www.facebook.com/christine.romard/videos/919139858104867/?theater

penn-1950

1952, reading Tom Sawyer (I think…)

NewYearTime

A typical New Year’s Eve pic in the Kemp household: New Year’s Baby Clare Bice and Father Time Jim Kemp en route to the Beaux Arts Ball!

Coda: If you’ve been raised on English Literature, you can’t escape the T.S. Eliot essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”.  How we fit into the wide embrace of all that has been already written.

Intimations of becoming all that already has been, is, and will be.

Janus: the two-headed month, looking back and looking forward. May your memories be dear, your present fulfilled and your future shining!

Poem for Solstice Night

All Things Considered

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penn Kemp

*

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

Endorsements for Barbaric Cultural Practice

The latest book of poetry by Penn Kemp, forthcoming October 1, 2016 from Quattro Books.

In praise and rant, the poems in Barbaric Cultural Practice pay tribute to our dear Mother World’s enchantments as well as her upheavals. They confront the stresses of urban life as juxtaposed to nature’s round, and deal, for example, with the effect of computers on our psyche and with the imprint of electronic media upon perception, consciousness and dream life. They are a response to the need for action against climate change and a humorous protest against overwhelming technology.
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/9781988254388-item.html

“… quirky, witty, funny, deep, wise & full of surprises.”
– Di Brandt, author of Walking to Mojácar

Barbaric Cultural Practice is an urgent set of makings, of remarkable and dramatic word-acts, that reminds us that language – the hallmark of civilization – also enables barbaric, human imposition on Nature and the eternal. The inaugural Poet Laureate of London ON, Penn Kemp is an expert tool-and-die versifier. Proof? Well, that very pun you’ve just read is indebted to her, for she employs every poetry technique available – every tool in the toolbox – to stress the stubborn connection between concrete reality and supposedly abstract words. Nor does Kemp flinch from pondering how our distancing embrace (that’s not an oxymoron) of electronica interferes with our relationships to the earth, each other, and to Art. Barbaric Cultural Practice is so timely, it is an alarm clock, shocking us awake to our drowsy, Eloi circumstances.”
– George Elliott Clarke, Parliamentary Poet Laureate

“Penn Kemp, a poet at the peak of her powers, casts a loving gaze at poetry’s purpose, at our planet and all sentient beings. Through loving attention, wordplay, whimsy and wit, dream and prophecy, Kemp transforms the ineffable into an elegant expression of life deeply envisioned. Through metaphoric shape-shifting, Kemp shows us that “My work is the translator’s, to move one/ sense into another’s realm.”(“Blow by Blow”). This gift of synaesthesia heightens her calling for us to take our earthly stewardship to heart: These are poems to meditate on, to incorporate into the interstices of our layered lives. In the book’s title, Kemp transforms a political gaffe, “barbaric cultural practices”, into an elegy for earth and heart-song for each other. Above all, Love is this exceptionally talented and seasoned poet’s guiding light.”
– Katerina Fretwell, author of Dancing on a Pin

“In Barbaric Cultural Practice we are treated to some of the most clear-eyed, keenly felt articulations of the present moment, as well as Penn Kemp’s boundless capacity for play: the simmering, tangling, rocketing, warbling, wooing, cooing, and joyful boogieing of her poems working themselves onto the page. Kemp’s feet are so sure, dancing on that lip. Through this book we learn all that’s at stake between the poem’s lines. ”
– Laurie D. Graham, author of Settler Education

“Penn Kemp’s work is profoundly mystical, a tour into otherworldly realms but informed by this world’s concerns, the depth of poetry, and the ability of her language to cross borders into metaphysical realism.”
– Leona Graham, author of Cloudbank Across the Fens

“Kemp walks the line, exploring a new syntax of language, whether celebrating the goddess or the dance between voice and machine, hand to iPad, to transmit this map of her mind and dreams.”
– Dennis Maloney, author of Listening to Tao Yuan Ming

“Penn Kemp’s Barbaric Cultural Practice brings together etymological, sonic, and cultural layerings of the words “barbaric,’ “cultural,” and “practice.” This electric new volume distinguishes the truly creative and evolutionary from what impedes a fuller engagement with each other and with planet earth. In these poems, the source of true wildness (wilderness) calls heart to heart: “I has widened to include/ you and you and you.”
– Susan McCaslin, author of Painter, Poet, Mountain: After Cézanne

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

“Penn Kemp’s Barbaric Cultural Practice is a stunning and magical tribute of travel wisdom of vision of longing of voices and of Goddess ways of seeing into and circumnavigating the heart of old ways of ancient catapulting into futures of tech-knowledge-able dancing back and forth of swaying of seeds of truth gardening matter of otherworldly mantras singing of the everyday made extraordinary. what movement in stillness what stillness in motion. what beauty what love!”
– Sheri-D Wilson, author of Open Letter: Woman Against Violence Against Women

“What is it like, writing a poem? Penn Kemp knows. She has spent her life performing poetry, publishing poetry, being poet-in-residence, Poet Laureate, poster-person for other poets. Now she stows her yellow pencil, fingers the keys of her computer, opens a new window and waits for a poem to find its way onto the desktop.

This is the poem and I

take no hand in it. I

want to write a comedy.

That’s rich. That’s fun-

ny laughs the voice in

my head that keeps

right on talking the poem

down the tree and onto

the screen.

That is from “Cogito Ergo Sum” in the first part of Penn Kemp’s new collection of poems, Barbaric Cultural Practices.  Penn likes to play jokes with words, but it’s no fun finding familiar words playing silly tricks under the direction of the electronic impersonal:

How have I come to man-

ipulate this trackball

with fingers on a keyboard?

Pause.

                                                            We are beyond the mouse.

My Spell Checker would change Cogito to Caught.

For someone’s        Suggest salmon’s.

For trackball               Suggest traceable

For Change all            Ignore

For Add                       For Options

For Delete                                                                        Close.

After you push the “Page Down” button, you can move to other sections, less high-tech, dealing with topics like “House – Hold – Man – Age – Meant.” Or with hearts, and strokes:

His mind is air-brushed
to a whiter, more spacious landscape
reflected in such snowy waste outside.
So we sink into sweet reverie fireside,
unthinking, unburdened, cuddled and
coddled warm by flame and the scarlet

beauty of this moment in flower here
only once but all the more present in
daring our ambivalent future dissipate

fear for now. Say it straight. For now.

Happier moments flower in poems like “Dream Visit, in Tune, In Time.” The rhythms, the internal rhymes, the spaces, work against logical walls:

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

But against the whimsical sequence of “Dream Sequins” Penn Kemp sets TV realities

I fall through the screams . . .

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

Then another twist, and Penn Kemp launches a final fantastic essential plea for light:

Let us eat light like
plants. Let us chew
the bright air till we can

swallow light like
fire-eaters. Let us
assimilate light . . . .”

– Elizabeth Waterston, author of Readying Rilla: L. M. Montgomery Reworks her Manuscript

“Penn Kemp is an icon in the cultural landscape. Her biography page on her blog states she has over 25 books of poetry and drama published, plus six plays and numerous works recorded on different electronic means. But this new work is brilliant in its form… Kemp has done something enlightening for readers by using the term for this collection of poetry. She has crafted her personal thoughts and views in this work and given all of us something to consider about our own actions… Literature should cause a reader to consider their world and their actions in the world around them. Penn Kemp has done that for me with her collection Barbaric Cultural Practice. No doubt I will be reading it again and quoting it here.”
– Steven Buechler, https://pacifictranquility.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/making-us-consider-our-actions-discussion-of-penn-kemps-barbaric-cultural-practicequattro-books-to-be-launched-autumn-2016/

Cover Painting of Barbaric Cultural Practice by Anne Anglin

barbaric-cultural-practice-transporting

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Creative Age Festival 2016

My poem, “Double Vision“, celebrates the Creative Age Festival in London ON!

Photo: Kathy SmithPhoto by Kathy Smith

Double Vision, i

Age is the phase for integration as we enter
the violet sphere, embracing shadows in
whatever form they appear, welcoming all.
We wear our lives on our faces, to be read.

We have stood in bright glittering sunshine
long enough. We have given to the world
what the world required. Now we inquire
what we ourselves need to feel complete.

We enter understanding, standing under all
we have done, all we are. We rest in the full
spectrum of fulfilment, scanning the span of
a moment’s totality. Time out of time expands

to include our whole life, with its possibilities
realized or still potential, yet to be enacted,
expended to the rest remaining to us, doubling
to manifest or stay outstanding as life allows.

Now is when to remember just who we entered
this world to become. To gather, to recollect, to
recall, to weave into a basket of plenty and pass
our basket of us as bequest on, nest for the next.

None of our history is lost. It lives in the present
as presence. We are the legacy we leave and
that which we’ve received, stretching back over
generations. We hold in our palms the prints

of past, present and unknown epochs to come.
What brings us to wisdom, this transmission
of all we are? Our grandchildren might hear
what our offspring may not yet have learned.

For our wisdom to ripen, we need shelter, a
place that respects us so we may continue
to live the love that is antidote to fear, free
of want. Where we can reflect upon, reflect

back gleams of insight gleaned from living
well, unhampered. May we listen to our body.
Despite the indignities our flesh is heir to, we
attend to aches in organs hitherto unknown.

Photo by Marque SmithPhoto: Marque Smith

 Double Vision, ii

Now we understand why old folks walk as
they do, not from choice, but because knees
don’t bend and ankles tend to give way. We
see our parents in the mirror and marvel at

the flight of time, knowing that inside we feel
thirty or forty max., on good days. We know
the limits our younger selves blithely ignored,
growing up, growing over the lump in our heart.

As we enter elderhood, may we burn up rather
than rust away, till we are entirely retread, ready
for whatever awaits. Retired, may we try again,
treating ourselves as well we need be treated.

May our inner weather be sun-dappled no matter
what. May we recognize in the mirror the others
that we were, as we are. May we elders be seen
as lineage-holders, holding the mirror for the next

generation down the line and on. May we be heard.

Penn Kemp

This poem was  published in Cautionary Tales: Giving Voice to the Elders (2015) for the League of Canadian Poets Feminist Caucus Archives.  The original version of “Double Vision” was commissioned by Gina Barber for the Age Friendly London Report.  It was recorded by Dennis Siren on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B8DOIfinOs.

Photos are from Creative Age Festival 2015, in the London Public Library Rotary Garden.

Photo: Bernarda Norwood

Poem to Celebrate Our Trees

For ReForest London!

Celebrating Tree in Souwesto

Mother trees surround us, the very
few left over from original forest we
long paved over, old rotten stumps
that settlers burnt to clear their land.

The Oak above Pond Mills hidden
on a hillside of younger upstarts.
The Beech behind Attawandaron
where October puffball might pop.

The Black Spruce and Tamarack
that whisk us into clearer northern
air as we walk through Sifton Bog
like winds that wind along each limb.

The Hickory I climbed as a girl
on Medway Farm, lying astride
one long branch intertwined by
all those saplings vying for light.

The three Birch in our front lawn,
planted when we moved here some
sixty years ago, growing old along-
side, dropping fireplace kindling.

Trees we have known are trees we
can meet by species. Once connected,
always familiar, old friends to greet
on any city street or in deep woods

if we can slow down long enough to
salute the Tree of Life in each. Light
candelabra of Catalpa, Horse Chestnut,
Pine, Balsam Fir, Juniper or Cedar cone.

Sing a litany of names that belong here.
Alder, Balm of Gilead, Willow galore.
Glorious Maple, Butternut, sad slips of
Elm, even intrusive Buckthorn now.

Celebrate those graceful interlopers,
the Carolinians (Redbud, Tulip Tree,
magnificent Magnolia) sheltering here
at comfort’s edge in Snowbelt country.

Here’s to lacy Walnut, Honey Locust,
whose canopies carry us off to African
plains: Acacia giraffes might browse
or Le Douanier paint above his lion.

Sycamore is our memory tree, shedding
its bark like arbutus, its winter silhouette
a ghostly skeleton, reminiscent of that
other London’s Plane-shaded streets.

Trees know their season, their reason for
being. How each tree reaches out to be-
come World Tree. We have so much to
learn from not living on but with our place.

We who live in this Forest City must ensure
a name never replaces the reality of canopy.
Long may our trees flourish for we can only
prosper with our elder brothers, our mothers.

Penn Kemp

http://reforestlondon.ca/celebrating-tree-souwesto

PennSumac

Photo: Leona Graham, Elsie Perrin Williams Estate