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.

April 9, Vimy Ridge Day

The anniversary of Vimy Ridge calls up the ghosts of all those lost then…  and now.

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

 

Sir Arthur Currie

Sir Arthur Currie.

And my poem for Vimy Ridge, “The Stand of Oak”:
https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/the-stand-of-oak/

Reading and Recommending Poems for National Poetry Month 2020

Both books and isolated poems, with some quotes, as they happen.  I include the publishers as well, to thank them for their insistence on publishing poetry~! And the Library for fulfilling my requests for titles!

*

Margaret Atwood’s “Six Poems”, Cutting edge: new stories of mystery and crime by women writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
Gary Barwin, For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems (Wolsak & Wynn)
Jay Bernard, Surge (Penguin Random House)
Frank Bidart, Half-light: collected poems 1965-2016  (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Heather Cadsby, Standing in the flock of connections (Brick Books)
Tina Chang, Hybrida: poems (Norton)
Leonard Cohen, The Flame
Marlene Cookshaw, Mowing (Brick Books)
Lorna Crozier, What the soul doesn’t want: poems (Freehand Books)
Carol Ann Duffy, The Bees (Picador)
Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, We Are Malala (Inanna Publications)
Matthew Gwathmey, Our latest in folktales (Brick Books)
Joy Harjo, An American sunrise: poems
Stevie Howell, I left nothing inside on purpose: poems (M & S)
Maureen Hynes, Sotto Voce (Brick Books)
Monika Hope Lee, If water breathes  (Resource Publications))
Michael Lista, Bloom: poems (House of Anansi)
Erin Moure, The Elements (House of Anansi)
Harold Rhenisch, The Spoken World (Hagios)
Jane Urquhart; photographs by Jennifer Dickson, Some other garden: The little flowers of   Madame de Montespan and I am walking in the garden of his imaginary palace (M & S)
David White, Local Haunts (Pedlar Press)
Howard White, A mysterious humming noise / new poems by Howard White (Anvil Press)
Sheri-D. Wilson, A Love Letter to Emily C. (Frontenac House)

*

from Margaret Atwood’s “Spider Signatures” Six Poems in Cutting edge: new stories of mystery and crime by women writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates

“and while you sleep
I hover, the first grandmother.
I trap your nightmares in my net,
eat the seeds of your fears for you,
suck out their ink

and scribble on your windowsill
these tiny glosses on Is, Is, Is,
white lullabies.”

*

Gary Barwin, For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems

About to read For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe! I know it will be a Pleasure and a Surprise:)!!

*

Jay Bernard, Surge

The ‘New Cross Massacre’, the fire, a racist attack?

*

Heather Cadsby, Standing in the flock of connections 

I spend all
this energy fending off cures when I could be enjoying boring times;
guarding my secrets and incessant thoughts. I tell you, my supply is
dwindling.”

*

Tina Chang, Hybrida: poems

A terrifying, brilliant book confronting the poet’s terror

“Somewhere, glass breaks
and the one who shatters it
wears a mask of God’s many faces.

*

Leonard Cohen, The Flame. Recommending the audiobook, read by Atwood, Seth Rogen, etc, a company of fine readers. Listen again and again till the rhymes chime. They already resonate.

Great to hear the exchange between Leonard and Peter Dale Scott, Frank’s son and Cohen’s mentor at McGill: “You want it darker?”

I published a book of poems called Travelling Light with Soft Press (1976), decades before Cohen’s. But his poem here is the more inspiriting, I mean inspiring.  Surprised?  I think notJ. And titles are open game.

*

Lorna Crozier, What the soul doesn’t want: poems

Up to snuff.  Deeply engaged and engaging.

*

Carol Ann Duffy, The Bees

My fave: the sweetest of all these books.

“alchemical, nectar-slurred, pollen-furred,
the world’s mantra us, our blurry sound
along the thousand scented miles to the hive…
the hive, alive, us—how we behave.

*

Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, We Are Malala (Inanna Publications)

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.

*

Stevie Howell’s text, I left nothing inside on purpose: poems

How I love Stevie Howell’s text, I left nothing inside on purpose: poems. Like this:

“Anonymous,
the one who sands the edges of sorrow.”

Magic!

*

Maureen Hynes, Sotto Voce

“We’re always
looking backwards in galleries and books
to find women like ourselves.”

Maureen Hynes, “Keep It Dark”

*

Monika Hope Lee, If water breathes

We’ve both made poetry of experiences like the Kalachakra, like Jaipur!

“Talking to the Unknown”

Tomorrow a gain or loss or truce
will alter the past

and we will reach for signs, particulars
a keyhole to the future’s largesse”

Penn Novel Idea Kingston 2018

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

Poets logo

 

Equinox Blessing for Balance

Penn magnolia magnificentAt the Moment of Equinox

I enter the garden, the ground
still held by winter, spring
almost released. I stand
at the centre into which all
flow, from which all emerge.

Wind in the upper birch stills.
The garden’s breath is so long
it is immeasurable. But I wait,
offering awareness as witness.

Pivoting, I pray. North, grant us
your clarity and strength. West,
your surrender and acceptance.
South, your joy and creativity.

East, your initiation, inspiration.
Sky, your broad view. Earth,
your ground, your holy round.

The moment is held in a bowl
beyond comprehension, beyond
belief. May we carry balance

lightly on each step of the way
till it recurs six months off. May
we find a way to become whole.

May the earth find her stability.
May the equanimity of equinox
be yours, be ours, the way animals
holds their ground without belief

in beyond.

This poem will appear in P.S., a chapbook written with Sharon Thesen. Kalamalka Press, 2020.

Penn Sharon Pyx (2)

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/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Reading the Exotic, the Other, in a Palindromic Month

Notes on Reading 02/2020

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The water dancer
Alexander McCall Smith, To the land of long lost friends
Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
Téa Obreht, Inland
Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens
Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel

/////////

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The water dancer celebrates the power of story and lineage.

What better way to begin Black History Month than with this powerful novel! To be read along with Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. Brilliant, immersive, majestic, magic.

“But knowing now the awesome power of memory, how it can open a blue door from one world to another, how it can move us…can fold the land like cloth… I know now that this story, this Conduction, had to begin there on that fantastic bridge between the land of the living and the land of the lost.”

“I understood Conduction, understood it as a relay of feeling, assembled from moments so striking that they become real as stone and steel”

///////////////

Alexander McCall Smith, To the land of long lost friends

Listening to Alexander McCall Smith’s To the land of long lost friends, I’m conflicted. The easy charm, the delicious accents with rolling r’s, the satisfyingly happy endings, the morality: yes. But the characters are tropes out of Little Black Sambo. When I was five, this forbidden book was my favourite; I read it to my dolls off by heart, loving the exoticism, the bright colours, the adventures… and the pancakes! How do we recognize colonialism in ourselves? I know Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa.  Would he recognize his lightly white-washed stories in present-day Botswana?

///////

Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
Téa Obreht, Inland

Inland is the better novel by far, though the characters are stock in both. The landscape moves from “the former Yugoslavia” (which always suggests Serbia) to the American West of the past. Here’s Obreht has capture the feel of the land, and dialogue. Both novels rest in a mythic premise, a fascination with folkloric beasts.

///////////

Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens

A gentle read twinning two sisters, two countries. So refreshing to read a deeply felt story where the turmoil is internal, not political nor ecological. Though wolves are involved!

/////////”

Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel

What’s not to love on a blustery winter day? Astrology! Epithets for each chapter by Blake! The unreliable narrator a madly determined old woman, as ferocious as she is tender. And does she love animals!

penn-1950

Mid-Winter Poem

This poem will be published in P.S., a collaboration with beloved Sharon Thesen to be published by Kalamalka Press in the spring of 2020.

As the Initiation of Imbolc begins

My birds are ruder than yours, they
squabble a dance of dominance.  But
I offer you the scarlet of cardinals in
return for a glimpse of a red-shafted
flicker at your feeder.  Let ‘em meet.

We are in the same weather thousands
of miles apart and yet I carry an image
of you shoveling alongside the walk,
heaving snow with a cheeky grin that
by the end of the driveway is grimace.

Though we talk, I can’t quite figure out
what you’re saying.  Your mouth moves,
your lips shape words that fly like birds
on the frost breath, cartoon apparitions,
and conversation curls in upon itself.

*

Response quickens into a new poem.
Exhalation is exhilaration in the cold.
Small hairs in my nostrils are spiked:
a word which leads me to mull over
Burgundy and cinnamon spiced hot.

Thought our forecast is bleak mid-winter,
snow squalls are more easily weathered
than political disruption and upheaval.
Trump addresses the state of disunion.
The blood and full blue moon eclipses.

*

A phrase from a poem I read today—
“in the revolving question of a field”—
leads beyond the shoveled path to
the woods we think we know.  As if
trees belong or we to one another.

All your particulars of sheen sparkle,
snow in pale sun, the showing forth:
Candlemas, Celtic cross-quarter day.
Baby and his mother presented pure.
Bridget spreads wide her crimson cloak.

Penn Kemp, for Sharon

Penn Sharon Pyx (2)

Sharon and Penn at Caetani Cultural Centre, thanks to http://www.kalwriters.com/residency/residency.html.
Photo by Roberta Pyx  Sutherland

A poem for today’s palindrome: 02022020

Forecast for February, 2020

Today’s palindrome is 02022020,
perfect for Groundhog Day, Bill
Murray’s film of nearly eternal return!

All the groundhogs agree on early
spring, their vision 20/20 in new snow.
We mark the myth with earth magic.

O whistling pig! Spot this quarter turn.
Persephone, goddess of flowers, returns
today in Greece. Here, she wears thick

brown fur and burrows up through feet
of snow to determine with a nod whether
winter will soon surrender to spring or

not. A quick survey and she ducks back
down the cold tunnel of time into long
distant mythic dream. We don’t know

what the groundhog dreams when she
scurries home to her warm, hushed den.
Edible flowers from my garden, I bet.

Or the security in curling round herself
as her squirming pile of pups blindly
snuffles, eyes unnecessary in the dark.

Mary now purified, free of confinement
shows forth her babe. Forty days respite
in temenos, in shelter, and they call that

impure. The labour in giving birth impure!
Longer light at last starts to awaken her.
Goddess has recovered to hold her child.

Persephone in Hades eats the pomegranate
that ensures her return: red, translucent and
succulent fruit seeds, cased in possibility.

She changes from Crone to Maiden once
more and always, grieving Mother consoled,
together to celebrate the Feast of Torches.

We lay out scarves for Brighid’s blessing on
outer evergreen boughs. We retrieve white
cloths next morning from beneath topknots of

soft snow that fell all night, consecrated when
Brighid passed over. Her snowdrops here are
snowflakes dropped one by one into many.

Imbolc in the Mother’s belly when ewes lie
near to lambing, drawing milk for a wan sun
on the grand cross: eagle, lion, human, calf.

Initiatory dreams score a long night’s rest.
We celebrate Imbolc, fire festival between
solstice and equinox on the year’s wheel.

Penn Kemp

Some Talk Magic coverAmandaUlasnowhill2014

​Mothers and Daughters and Mothers and Daughters

My poem for you, in the beauty of new snow…

Read on…

“Happy New Year to the waxing moon, the telepathic sea.”
Patti Smith

What to do when a virus lingers?  Why, read.

My reading list depends on what comes into the Library!  This January, the books are long and immersive:

Michael Christie, Greenwood
Rachel Cusk, Coventry
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Ben Lerner, The Topeka School
Delia Owens, Where the crawdads sing
Hannu Rajaniemi, Summerland
Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel

 

Connections? The environment… epic descriptions and historical perspectives.

///////

Michael Christie, Greenwood

“Wood is time captured”

Recommending Michael Christie’s engaged & epic saga Greenwood
along with Richard Powers’s The Overstory
& Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s To Speak for the Trees

On family & forest
forest as family as forest

I love how Christie’s knowledge of the forest shines throughout.

On trees: “They stand. They reach. They climb. They thirst. They drop their leaves. They fall. You see, Jake? We make them human. With our verbs. But really, we shouldn’t. Because they’re our betters. Our kings and queens.”

//////////

Rachel Cusk, Coventry

She has interesting things to say about self and community. Am connecting to Cusk’s Coventry: honesty by indirection. “a kind of fiction, an opportunity to become visible through disguise.” Have found Coventry very revealing…  those essays on others’ writing speak more of her own work!  I don’t trust her self abnegation, the opaque: the thirst for truth honesty is at once revealed / veiled.  But was intrigued by her perceptions of mother/artist: all that you and I have lived through.

“Entering a house, I often feel that I am entering a woman’s body, and that everything I do there will be felt more intimately by her”

“To be an artist is to have your creation obey you, but as [Raymond] Carver points out, parenthood is the opposite of art”

“The artist is a person in whom there has been no caesura with the creativity of childhood: how, then will she herself become a mother? For the artist is a perceiver, and the mother the first and fundamental object of perception, the first image”

the woman writer “can find herself disowned in the very ac on invoking the deepest roots of shared experience. Having taken the trouble to write honestly, she can find herself being read dishonestly.

//////////

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants 

Essential reading.

“In the Apache language, the root word for land is the same as the word for mind. Gathering roots holds up a mirror between the map in the earth and the map of our minds. This is what happens, I think, in the silence and the singing and with hands in the earth.”

“The word ecology is derived from the Greek oikos, the word for home.”

Three Sisters “inscribe what looks to me like a blueprint for the world, a map of balance and harmony.”

//////////

Ben Lerner, The Topeka School

Recommending Ben Lerner’s impressive The Topeka School,  for its huge scope of an era. Deft autofiction at its best. One section is a vivid (positive:)!) portrayal of his mother, Harriett Lerner, The Dance of Anger, etc… very influential psychologist a few years ago.

//////////

Delia Owens, Where the crawdads sing

Enjoyed escaping into the marsh with Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens when down with bronchitis and ‘swamped’.

Close observations of marsh life:
watch out for those female insects.
Listen in audio if you can!

//////////

Hannu Rajaniemi, Summerland

Stir well— tropes and spoofs and spooks from steampunk, science fiction, spy novel, allohistory and spiritualism— and up pops Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi! Be ready for a wide interdimensional spree! Cambridge spire climbs included;)

Hannu Rajaniemi @hannu responds to my Tweet : “Thank you — and also thanks for teaching me about the word “allohistory”!”

//////

Patti Smith, The Year of the Monkey

How mind boggling to follow Summerland with a direct infusion of Patti Smith’s The Year of the Monkey. (Yes, I was born a Green Wood Monkey.)

The Year of the Monkey is Patti Smith at her most restless and elegiac.

“I could feel the gravitational pull of home, which when I’m home too long becomes the gravitational pull of somewhere else.”

“The fringe of dream, an evolving fringe at that! Maybe more of a visitation, a prescience of thinks to come… the borders of reality had reconfigured in such a way that it seemed necessary to map out the patchwork topography.”

“—Uncommon sense, replied the sign. And please! Uluru! it’s the dream capital of the world. Naturally you’re going!” The talking sign for the motel, “Dream Inn”.

On Sam Shepard: “He was standing, looking down at me just as always. … And I thought, as he reached down to brush the hair from my eyes, the trouble with dreaming is that we eventually wake up.”

“We used to laugh, me and Sam, about this disconnect: you write in time when time is gone and in trying to catch up you’re writing a whole other book”

“Happy New Year to the waxing moon, the telepathic sea.” Patti Smith

//////////

Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel  

What’s not to love on a blustery winter day? Astrology! Epithets for each chapter by Blake! The unreliable narrator a madly determined old woman, as ferocious as she is tender. And does she love animals!

gatheringvoicesbanner

 

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.