How we are (in)formed!

Listening to

Robert Harris’s choices are interesting, and all too telling!

The delicious Rosalind Russell sings, “Just throw your knowledge in his face… that’s the second way to lose a man…” And then George Gaynes sings for “his gentle girl, his quiet girl…” from On the Town, 1949. “We need no words./ She sees— she knows… Where is that special girl/Who is soft, soft as snow/ Somewhere /Somewhere, my quiet girl”.

Bernstein’s lyrics enforce the notion of ‘a gentle, quiet’ girl who is “a different kind of girl” from the “sharp, intellectual kind” usually picked. And so stereotypes are deeply embedded from childhood on… On the Town heralds in the ‘50’s!

Oh how things have changed… or not!

“It happens over and over
I pick the sharp intellectual kind
Why couldn’t this time be different
Why couldn’t she – only be
Another kind – A different kind of girl

I love a quiet girl
I love a gentle girl”

Ah, the songs were out of context…I stand corrected, though I still question Robert Harris’s choices:)! “It was Betty Comden and Adolf Green who wrote the lyrics, Not Leonard! and if you watch the play, the hero changes his mind about the unquiet girl and gets Ruth! The song ends up being almost satirical in its proper setting.” Good to hear. 

Penn Winnipeg bear

Photo: Heidi Greco

Sound Learning!

“Reading and Workshop with Penn Kemp”

Saturday, June 6, 10:30 to noon.
Landon Branch Library (downstairs), 167 Wortley Rd, London N6C 3P6.

All welcome!

Come celebrate the culmination of our  Creative Age Festival London readings and workshops with me!

Photo: Kathy Smith

Photo: Kathy Smith

Free, sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Program Description:

Penn Kemp is an inspiring workshop presenter, poet, playwright, performer, activist and London’s inaugural poet laureate. After reading from some of her plays, Penn will lead us in exploring and developing characters through sound and image. In allowing our Muses to speak through us, we’ll be surprised at the unfolding process of new writing. Free. Drop in.

Photo: Deb Hill

Photo: Deb Hill

Reading sponsored by the Guild of Canadian Playwrights.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg.,

Upcoming Events and a Rant to warm your heart on chilly days…

When Politicians are Poeticians…

Saturday, 29 November 2014,1:00-3:30 PM. “Poets and Politics”, ON N5W 2X6. “London’s Yukyuks next Sat. afternoon should be fun/ny. I’ll be judging a slam competition with former mayor Jane Bigelow… of poems
written and performed by newly elected city councillors! They take office the next day, Politicans/ poeticians: we both love language:)”

Saturday, December 6, 2014, noon-1pm,  I’ll be reading a new poem in the Ritual of Remembering, Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Brescia University College Auditorium, The Circle, London. Free Parking in all Brescia lots.

Oh yes, the Rant for our much anticipated new Council in London ON!  Here goes:

When Politicians are Poeticians…

Writer Ursula K Le Guin was honored for her life’s work this month at the American 2014 National Book Awards. In her resounding, prophetic speech, she announced: “Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting
the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality….
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

Politicians, you are poeticians. You share a love of language with poets. I ask you to consider your words carefully, starting with ‘considere’: to be with the stars, to take the widest view. Consider the meaning of the word ‘integrity’: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished; soundness. You are like poets in that you believe in words. I wish you fewer! But I wish your words to work true all the way through.

Our new Council is a visionary council, with all the power of new beginnings and a future four years anticipated. As visionaries, you see this world at the same time as you see another. What kind of city can The Forest City be? The movement of potential transformation is from envisioning (as the consultations with Londoners have shown) through expression in words that can then be translated into action, with the people of London behind you. Our new Council, I believe, is keen to negotiate, to include and to persuade. May your ideals translate into direct and effective action. May our plans for this beautiful city be realized.

Penn Kemp

Here’s to the inner Light… and Warmth!  I recommend snogging with your beloved!


Beloved Gavin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Celebrating Ancient Egypt: HELWA!

Suite Ancient Eygpt cover

Helwa!: Experiencing Ancient Egypt ..

Gathering Voices, Penn’s Lit.-on-Air radio show on CHRW Radio Western, 94.9 FM, is heard on Tuesdays, 6:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Tonight, our next show is Helwa!: Experiencing Ancient Egypt. Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 6:30 – 7:00 pm. (R. November 25, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am).

Helwa! is also archived on

and can be heard any time!

Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt, Part 1 by Penn Kemp with The Helwa Ensemble: musicians Mary Lynne Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, sound artist Jocelyn Drainie, Egyptologist/poet Daniel Kolos and belly dancer Ishra Ishra Shirley Blanco. Together we trace the soul’s journey across the nocturnal sky to rebirth the next day: a classical Egyptian journey that the star goddess Nut took nightly. Recorded live at Aeolian Hall (August 2011) and mastered by John Magyar. Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt (cd) will be available from Pendas,

The chapbook Helwa! (Beautiful) is available for $6 and mailing from Pendas, 525 Canterbury Road, London ON N6G 2N5. Katerina Fretwell’s excellent review is up on

Helwa cover

Suite Ancient Egypt is available for $50 from Pendas or from Mother Tongue Publishing Limited, 290 Fulford-Ganges Rd. Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2K6, Suite Ancient Egypt, pictured above, is a gorgeous handmade chapbook,

Pendas Productions, 525 Canterbury Road, London ON N6G 2N5,

Gathering Voices, Penn Kemp’s Lit.-on-Air radio show

Gathering Voices, CHRW Radio Western, 94.9 FM, is heard on Tuesdays, 6:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Shows are archived on


100 Thousand Poets for Change, Gathering Voices, world-wide and on radio in London ON. See and for the radio show, Gathering Voices celebrates 2014’s 100,000 Poets for Change event, archived on See

Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 6:30 – 7:00 pm. (R. October 14, 6:30-7:00 am). Gathering Voices features the divine Brenda McMorrow in her latest CD, Igniting the Beauty, Part 1, White Swan Records.This former Londoner travels worldwide to share her presence, igniting the Beauty indeed. The title is taken from a poem by Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine abbess,writer and mystic. Brenda sang and composed the music to Penn’s poem that opens each Gathering Voices show. Listen to the show on Hear more on

Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 6:30 – 7:00 pm. (R. October 28, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am). The show features circle of she by Moe Clark. Moe received mentorship from Sheri-D Wilson, who helped launch her career as a spoken word artist at the 2005 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival. Moe has toured across Canada and internationally. A Métis artist, Moe showcases her unique understanding of performance narrative with traditions of circle singing and spoken word. Listen to the show on

Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 6:30 – 7:00 pm. (R. November 11, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am). Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt, Part 1 by Penn Kemp with The Helwa Ensemble: musicians Mary Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, sound artist Jocelyn Drainie, Egyptologist/poet Daniel Kolos and belly dancer Ishra Blanco. Together we trace the soul’s journey across the nocturnal sky to rebirth the next day: a classical Egyptian journey that the star goddess Nut took nightly. Recorded live at Aeolian Hall (August 2011) and mastered by John Magyar. Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt (cd) will be available from Pendas,  It is archived on

Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 6:30-7:00 pm. (R. November 25, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am).  Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt, Part 2 by Penn Kemp with The Helwa Ensemble: musicians Mary Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, sound artist Jocelyn Drainie, Egyptologist/poet Daniel Kolos and belly dancer Ishra Blanco. Together we trace the soul’s journey across the nocturnal sky to rebirth the next day: a classical Egyptian journey that the star goddess Nut took nightly. Recorded live at Aeolian Hall (August 2011) and mastered by John Magyar. Helwa! a Sound Opera Experiencing Ancient Egypt (cd) will be available from Pendas Productions, Listen on

Tuesday, December 2, 2014,6:30-7:00 pm (R. December 9, 2014, 6:30-7:00 am). Featuring Trieze, a CD by Viviane Houle, BC sound artist. As vocalist and improviser, Vivian deconstructs words into sounds on remarkable journeys that include jazz vocals as well. With Peggy Lee (cello), Lisa Miller (piano), Chris Gestrin (analog keyboards) and Jesse Zubot (violin). Listen on

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 (R. December 23, 2014 6:30-7:00 am).Featuring Cat Kidd’s Hyena Subpoena, Part 2. A formative figure in the Montreal poetry scene since the early 90s, Catherine Kidd is the author of the novel Missing the Ark, the poetry collection Bipolar bear and a critically acclaimed solo show, Sea Peach. Her most recent poem series, Hyena Subpoena, was presented in 2011, and released as CD/book in May 2014; see We’ll hear several of these poems with soundscapes now. Listen on

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 (R. January 6, 2015, 6:30-7:00 am). The show features Penn Kemp’s poem for peace in many voices, Pendas Productions, Volume 2, Daniel Kolos and Penn perform Penn’s “poem for peace” in Daniel’s translation into Ancient Egyptian: perhaps the first time for millennia that a poem has been translated back into hieroglyphics! On, you can see the poem and hear more translations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 (R. January 20, 6:30-7:00 am). Gathering Voices features Sarah Murphy’s CD, when bill danced the war, Part One. Author, activist, translator, visual and spoken word artist, Sarah Murphy is the recipient of the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival’s 2008 Golden Beret Award. Murphy has published seven books and performed and shown widely in Canada, the UK, the US, Australia and Mexico. Sarah is a previous recipient of the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award, honouring spoken word artists. Listen on

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 (R. February 3, 6:30-7:00 am). In honour of Susan McCaslin’s new book, “Into the Mystic”, from Inanna Publications, Gathering Voices features our interview with her. The show is archived on

Penn Kemp


Saving our woodlots through poetry!

Gathering Voices, Lit.-on-Air on 94.9 FM, Radio Western,

Because saving our woodlots is still imperative, my Poem 2013 Chinese Year of the Snakeshow, Gathering Voices, on Radio Western is replaying this show, “Trees, Please!” Listen now on

penn %22For Me it was Foxes%22small(1)photo by Dennis Siren

A polyglot of poets read their poems to save the London woodland, as published in the PigeonBike Press pamphlet, “Trees or Jobs: It Should Not Be a Dichotomy”. Poets include Tom Cull, Andreas Gripp, Patricia Keeney, Penn Kemp, Susan McCaslin, Susan McMaster and R L Raymond from PigeonBike. With an intro. by Joni Baechler, London’s mayor. She writes:
“I am so pleased that London poets have come together in a creative,
collaborative project with the goal of protecting our natural
environment. Heartwarming to my creative soul.” MP Irene Mathyssen,
also a creative soul, writes: “When all the empty strip malls are
falling down, we will still be missing our beautiful lost trees.”

The poems are up on Music on the show is from Bill Gilliam’s “Prelude (Dream Sequins) ”, composed for Penn’s sound opera of that name performed at The Aeolian, from his latest CD, Ensorcell.

Creative Aging for Boomers

Creative Aging for Boomers 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we learn from the process of creative aging? What wisdom can we claim? Anderson is never content to keep her own findings to herself. She has developed elder circles across the continent. In group dyads, she poses such questions as “Tell me a way you deny your experience of diminishment.” “What’s it like to feel that denial now?” “What are the gifts reserved for age?” She listens to the responses and invites us into a deeper hearing of one another. 

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

May our histories be recalled. May we all remember 

the right role of elders: to listen, to be heard, to be held 

in respect. To hold on. To let go. To be held. 

For further exploration, see Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace by Sherry Ruth Anderson. Changemakers Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-78099-963-0, www.sherryruthandersoncom and
See also Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Highly recommended is activist Judy Rebick’s transformative book, Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political,

Judy Rebick and Penn 2014
– Penn Kemp 

writer-in-residence for Creative Aging Festival, London 

“Creative Aging for Boomers”, Art-in-Society #14, 2014.,!.