PIERCING HEARTS. Poets ‘are talking tough’ and their words make a difference

By Joe Belanger, The London Free Press. March 5, 2022

Poets across Canada and around the world are contributing thoughts, voices and poems about the war in Ukraine to London poet Penn Kemp’s blog. Kemp, who has written two poems about the conflict in Ukraine, said she believes that poetry can make a difference because it’s a sharing of community. 

Photograph taken on Friday, March 4, 2022. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press). March FORTH!

https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poets-are-talking-tough-and-their-words-make-a-difference

Lately, I can’t seem to get this classic Tragically Hip tune out of my head, nor the words of the late singer-poet Gord Downie:

Don’t tell me what the poets are doing

Don’t tell me that they’re talking tough . . .

Well, Gord, they are.

I’ve been humming that tune ever since an email arrived from Penn Kemp, London’s first poet laureate and a renowned poet, playwright and author.

The email advised that poets across the country and around the world are contributing their thoughts, voices and poems about the war in Ukraine to her blog, pennkemp.wordpress.com and will be sharing their words live on teleconference on April 2 at 2 p.m. Details on that gathering will be posted on the website rsitoski.com/news-events to kick off National Poetry Month.

Kemp’s Friday blog post is titled A Gathering of Poets in Response to Peril.

She offers up two new poems inspired by the horrors of war in Ukraine.

In The Honorable, the Diss-, Kemp expresses her — and our — shock, anger, fears, outrage and determination to do something. It reads in part:

The Doomsday Clock counts down a

hundred seconds till midnight strikes.

May Kyiv keep safe beneath the holy

mantle of Maty Zemlya, Mother Earth

as if prayers are enough. Send money.

“Prove that you are with us. “Prove

that you will not let us go,” demands

President Volodymyr Zelensky of us.

We all can let our government know how we feel; we can donate cash or goods. It’s clear the government of Justin Trudeau shares our feelings and expresses them through donations of military and civilian aid to Ukraine along with condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As citizens, we also can support Ukraine with donations.

What can a poet donate? Seriously. Show me a rich poet.

But they have words, which can pierce, perhaps not armour, but certainly hearts. Can they have an impact?

“Yes, yes, yes,” Kemp declares.

“It makes a difference because it’s a sharing of community, of heart space. It creates empathy. It’s an outlet for our feelings of despair and helps us become activists, the writer and the reader. Poetry encompasses the entirety of human emotions.”

On Kemp’s blog, someone posted an anonymous quote found on a headstone where American artist Jackson Pollock and other artists are buried: “Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity. By themselves they can do little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving.”

“That’s why I turn to poetry,” Kemp said. “It makes nothing happen, but it makes us feel empathetic; it expresses our sorrow and communicates it to our community and it reaches across languages to the heart.”

On Kemp’s blog, I find a contribution from one of her pals, award-winning Romanian-born American poet Andrei Codrescu.

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

Kemp had a similar reaction.

“What prompted me was Putin’s threat of nuclear bombs, which would annihilate the world,” she said. “He’s a madman, one man wreaking havoc throughout the world.”

Perhaps there’s no more immediate proof of the impact arts and poetry can have on people than pop-rock’s Twisted Sister and its anthem, We’re Not Gonna Take It, which the Ukrainian people seem to have adopted as a resistance anthem.

And I love a tweet from Twisted Sister’s lead singer Dee Snider that brings into perspective the difference between the two issues dominating news today: the pandemic and the Ukrainian war.

“People are asking me why I endorsed the use of We’re Not Gonna Take It for the Ukrainian people and did not for the anti-maskers. Well, one use is for a righteous battle against oppression; the other is infantile feet stomping against an inconvenience.”

Yes, the arts, including poetry — words — can have an impact, piercing hearts and minds and the balloons of fools.

Yeah, the poets are talking tough.

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress


POEMS BY PENN KEMP

Fast Poem for Ukraine

The dark day we saw
coming. We heard it
coming. But we thought

we could for-
stall war.

Is Putin unhinged at
last? “Russia’s response
will be unlike any in history.”

Disbelief and shock there.
Disbelief and shock here.

“Each citizen of Ukraine
will decide the future of
the country.”

Will new and expanded
sanctions work? Tears
are never enough. As if
poems could help. As
if words would work.

“We now have war in Europe
that is of a scale and type
unparalleled in history.”

“This will not shake Europe.”

But it already has.

The Honorable, the Diss-

We learn to pronounce Ke-ev, not
a single syllable spelt, not caving in
to the Russian Kiev, but keeping Kyiv.

How Chrystia Freeland pronounces
Putin’s name with an emphasis on
Pew, ew!, a diphthong of disgust.

As if an explosive P could repulse
this errant madman, could in a huff
and puff blow down that house of

cards, his arsenal now on high alert.
The Doomsday Clock counts down a
hundred seconds till midnight strikes.

May Kyiv keep safe beneath the holy
mantle of Maty Zemlya, Mother Earth
as if prayers are enough. Send money.

“Prove that you are with us. “Prove
that you will not let us go,” demands
President Volodymyr Zelensky of us.

https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poets-are-talking-tough-and-their-words-make-a-difference

Video: ‘Shock and disbelief’: A London poet’s odes to Ukraine. Photo/video: Mike Hensen

Fast Poem for Ukraine

February 24, 2022

The dark day we saw
coming. We heard it
coming. But we thought
we could for-
stall war.

Is Putin unhinged at
last? “Russia’s response
will be unlike any in history.”

Disbelief and shock there.
Disbelief and shock here.

“Each citizen of Ukraine
will decide the future of
the country.”

Will new and expanded
sanctions work? Tears
are never enough. As if
poems could help. As
if words would work.

“We now have war in Europe
that is of a scale and type
unparalleled in history.”

“This will not shake Europe.”

But it already is.

Heraclitus, Ongoing: a poem

Books I read are in the process of shaping, shifting
each time I open them. Not just pages but the content
won’t let me step into the same novel twice. Characters
talk back and letters dance jigs that won’t stand still.

Nor do I step into the same house twice. When I come
home, the front hall shifts to accommodate the change
I bring in my wake from outside realms. And the place
itself has contentedly settled within my absence.

I don’t step into the same dream twice. Oh, I try to return
to change the story, to divert the flow from disaster. But
the dream flips a new twist into its narrative, leaving me
to contend with eddies and currents I never suspected.

I don’t step into the same grief twice. Each has its own
taste, bitter, sweet or bittersweet, its intense specificity.
marked distinct and marking me. Every sorrow forms
a trail you know me by, sure signature of some loss.

I don’t step into the same life twice. Whether I step
into the same death is anyone’s guess: so many small ones
you’d think would prepare me, but who knows what
awaits us over on the other side, en la otra orilla.

I don’t leave my shoes on the bank and wade in.
I don’t recover what is swept away in the current.
Every poem hovers on the bridge over metaphor.
I don’t step into the river at all.

Penn Kemp

“Heraclitus, Ongoing,” P. 28-29.
Paintings by Jim Kemp, P. 49-50.
A Near Memoir: New Poems cover, P. 67.

Beliveau Review #8, June 2021
https://2e8a8d6d-e97c-4235-92c8-7aa31bae0d77.filesusr.com/ugd/830f0d_40d96803476c422d8e7809da400ff2c7.pdf.
Scroll down, https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/magazines

Jim Kemp,
“Zen Burst”

Jim Kemp, “Moth”


A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS

A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS from Beliveau Books is out!

Live! Launching A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS 

Sunday, September 5, 2021, 7:30-9:35pm. Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert St., Stratford ON. I’ll be reading as Featured Poet, https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows. 
Register: https://www.facebook.com/events/110970911119609/?ref=newsfeed

If you’d like a numbered copy signed to you, let me know, pennkemp@gmail.com. 
If you’d like a numbered copy, unsigned, please contact beliveaubooks@gmail.com.

The cost is $15, including postage. See https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/home/books.

But on September 5th in Stratford, it’s $10!

Readings from A Near Memoir

​Thursday, May 20, 3pm, 2021. Feature, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Open Mic series.​ Host: Richard-Yves Sitoski 
Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. https://www.facebook.com/events/169826411638195/?ti=ls

And Live!, Sunday, September 5, 2021, 7:30-9:35pm. Red Lion Reading Series, 23 Albert St., Stratford ON. I’ll be reading from A NEAR MEMOIR: NEW POEMS as Featured Poet, https://beliveaubooks.wixsite.com/redlionreadingseries/shows.

Thanks to a CAIP grant from the London Arts Council for time to write these poems.

Press

“Diving into a new book of poems by Penn Kemp is like setting out on an adventure.” https://lfpress.com/entertainment/local-arts/poet-penn-kemp-celebrates-growing-up-in-london-in-new-book-of-verse? with a video of my reading from the book,  a poem, “Choose to Challenge”, commissioned by Brescia for International Women’s Day this March 8: https://youtu.be/dNC2sbZGp3c. And https://lfpress.com/entertainment/books/new-books-by-london-area-authors-offer-variety-for-all-readers-tastes.

“A new book of poetry from prolific Southwestern Ontario writer and spoken word artist Penn Kemp”, https://stratfordbeaconherald.com/enttainment/books/latest-work-from-poet-penn-kemp-published-by-stratford-micropress-beliveau-books.

On Line

Read Richard-Yves Sitowski’s review in “SUSTAINING CONNECTIONS” on http://www.sageing.ca/sageing37.html, P. 25.

Three of the poems in the book are linked online.

A poem in the book, “Choose to Challenge”, was commissioned by Brescia University College to celebrate International Women’s Day! Read it here: https://brescia.uwo.ca/about/who_we_are/choose_to_challenge_poem.php
This poem was presented to the University at Brescia’s Dr. Hanycz Leadership Lecture on March 8, 2021. To see a video of me reading the poem, visit Brescia’s YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThguVNENewQ #.

The London Free Press featured it: https://youtu.be/dNC2sbZGp3c?list=PLfojJEPqDqrTBdAxGfpQaPao8m_ynhfuI&t=11.

With special thanks to Dennis Siren, visionary videographer, for his videopoem of a poem in the book, “Translation”, dedicated to my father, painter Jim Kemp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMqzgfLJtws&t=22s.

“There you are”, from A Near Memoir, is at 8:14 in my Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9mS75i.

Endorsements for A Near Memoir: new poems

The poems in this unusually substantial chapbook reflect with charming insight on key moments and memorable forks in the road in the poet’s early life, then move to more sombre reckonings with mortality, the traumas of war, and the trees and environs of her Souwesto region, and conclude with inspirational “challenges” to us all in facing our uncertain future. Stylistic aplomb is underpinned, throughout, by mindful perception, impassioned concern, and a visionary verve.   
— Allan Briesmaster, author of The Long Bond (Guernica Editions)

d the deep without. It draws from the innermost regions of subjective consciousness while opening to social engagement and planetary awareness. The title suggests a genre both personal and universal, exploring the double lineages of family and the larger polis, our civic communities. Here we meet various members of her family, including her father, the visual artist. Penn has transformed his legacy into spoken word and a poetics where sounds and silences converge: “I still wait with paper’s white space till / words arise, images in words, watching them come into form…” As we participate, we are whirled into places where perception sharpens, and we too are transformed.

Penn Kemp’s A Near Memoir carries the reader simultaneously to the deep within and the deep without. It draws from the innermost regions of subjective consciousness while opening to social engagement and planetary awareness. The title suggests a genre both personal and universal, exploring the double lineages of family and the larger polis, our civic communities. Here we meet various members of her family, including her father, the visual artist. Penn has transformed his legacy into spoken word and a poetics where sounds and silences converge: “I still wait with paper’s white space till / words arise, images in words, watching them come into form…” As we participate, we are whirled into places where perception sharpens, and we too are transformed.
—Susan McCaslin, author of Heart Work (Ekstasis Editions)

A Near Memoir collects a confluence of poems around Penn Kemp’s beloved subjects: art, nature, community, the divine feminine, and flowingness of life.
—Sharon Thesen, author of The Wig-Maker (New Star Books)

Penn Kemp’s A Near Memoir: new poems explores the earliest stirrings of the creative imagination in childhood and the joys of associative thinking. With narrative skill and vivid sensual detail, it discovers and uncovers the effect of adult perspectives on a young mind, the puzzling life lessons of parents and teachers, the wisdom and heartbreak of nature. Ironic and lyrical, accurate and ambiguous, playful and profound, these finely tuned poems—whether enlightened moments or deep dives into an evolving self—flow with the ease and excitement that only a seasoned artist can bring. A book full of surprises and affirmation.
—Patricia Keeney, author of Orpheus in Our World (NeoPoiesis Press)

“Diving into a new book of poems by @pennkemp is like setting out on an adventure. You never know what you’ll come across and @JoeBatLFPress says her newest offering, A Near Memoir: New Poems, is no different.”

Hey, Red! Great poems!!!! So sensuous and lyrical and sly. 
—Catherine Sheldrick Ross, author of The Pleasures of Reading (Libraries Unlimited)

Penn Kemp ‘s book is wonderful in her mastery of language and attention to detail. A gorgeous read. A really great gift!” —Jude Neale

Nice day in the Grove for a new read from a dear friend and mentor, the magical Penn Kemp — Nick Beauchesne

A near Memoir has arrived and it is a treasure. So beautifully produced. With your life writings personal and planetary. And with such touching story-telling visuals. —Patricia Keeney

SPRING Events

Up now!

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

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

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

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

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

Forthcoming Events with Penn Kemp

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

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

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

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

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

New Publications

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

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

Forthcoming Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Events with Penn Kemp

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

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

2020 Holiday Recommendations

Curling Up

with a Great Book!

Superb Canadian writing highly recommended, grouped idiosyncratically

First, by women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read on ! Read often:)

Poem for the Fourteen

Invocation: for all those missing and murdered

Come say hello, women. While the veils are still

thin, we welcome your presence, no longer missed

but present, with all the disappeared you stand for.

As if you were in the prime of life now. As if

your daughters bloomed full-grown around you.

As if your mothers were crying delighted tears.

And if you were here to see what has changed

and what has not, would you hide your eyes in

shame for what has been done, what has not?

Come into the light and tell us how you are. As

if you have life beyond what we recall or remember

before this dark December claims its own again.

https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/another-invocation/?fbclid=IwAR04DnqiyRBbiV3Nc2ZTENGNsU92OxBkduVP4a-wQxn34ANvJqztAgWcU8Q

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/12/01/poetry-1150/

Sounds of Trance Formation


Sounds of Trance Formation:

An Interview with Penn Kemp now up!

https://spokenweb.ca/podcast/episodes/sounds-of-trance-formation-an-interview-with-penn-kemp/

with Nick Beauchesne, Spoken Web Canada

December 7, 5-7 pm

“For Penn Kemp, poetry is magic made manifest. While her subjects are varied, and her interests and approaches have evolved over the years, Kemp has always understood the power of spoken word to evoke emotion, shift consciousness, and shape the world. Drawing on a syncretic blend of spiritual philosophy informed by Alchemy, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other wisdom traditions, Kemp’s work is imminent and transcendent, embodied and cerebral. The words on the page produce certain effects, while the voices in the air produce others altogether.”

New #SpokenWebPod episode coming next Monday, Dec 7.
Come to our Listening Party to experience
“Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp.”

Monday, December 7, 2020 at 5 PM EST – 7 PM EST
Hosted by SpokenWeb

Join us to listen and discuss #SpokenWebPod episode
Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp

We will gather virtually to listen together at 5pm ET and share our reactions in a Twitter conversation. This will be followed by a 6pm ET Q&A with Episode Producer Nick Beauchesne and featured guest Penn Kemp. You are invited to join for the entire event or at 6pm ET for just the Q&A.

Listening Party Zoom Link:
https://sfu.zoom.us/j/83778515727…Meeting ID: 837 7851 5727
Password: resonate
One tap mobile
+16473744685,,83778515727#,,,,0#,,71824394# Canada

https://www.facebook.com/events/752942868631837/

Join the Twitter Conversation:
You are invited to follow @SpokenWebCanada and #SpokenWebPod on Twitter and join the conversation during the event as we listen together. Tweet at us with #SpokenWebPod and share your listening experience: what moments jump out to you? what sounds resonate with your experience?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpokenWebCanada at https://spokenweb.ca/podcast/episodes.

3 Plays in the Pledge Project

Large cast plays by Canadian women are featured on https://www.pledgeproject.ca/plays/
For more information about my work, visit 
the CWPO Collection.
1. The Epic of Toad and Heron
https://www.pledgeproject.ca/plays/the-epic-of-toad-and-heron/
Synopsis:

This fantasy pageant tells the story of the Toad Prince who marries a real princess, the daughter of the Sun and Moon who ultimately transforms into a heron.

Characters:

The leads are a Toad Prince and a Princess who is transformed into a Heron. Other characters are Toadlets, as many as needed, played by children. Casting is completely open in regards to gender, race, orientation, and disability.

Resources:

Digital script available through the Canadian Play Outlet. $12.00

The Epic of Toad and Heron was first presented on Toronto Island by Pendas Productions as a way of saving Island homes from being bulldozed by the city. The flying Toad became the icon on the Toronto Island flag: a symbol of survival. The first production featured mimes Jay Fisher and Bibi Caspari as well as a cast of Island children. Penn Kemp has performed the play with children in many Ontario schools as well as back on Toronto Island: https://m.openbooktoronto.com/events/green_carpet_gala_3.

 The Epic of Toad and Heron was published for the first production by Black Moss Press. The marvellous illustrations are by Bobbe Besold with photos by Elizabeth Cunningham.

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

Synopsis:
The personal dramas of six women in an abortion ward, presenting different responses, and an examination of the role of nurses as the patients confront hospital bureaucracy. Acts: 1. A period piece from the Seventies that is still all too current. Directed by Anne Anglin

2. Angel Makers
https://www.pledgeproject.ca/plays/angel-makers/

Characters:

2 Nurses
6 Patients
1 Grandmother
1 Child

First Produced:

Redlight Theatre, Toronto, 1976. Toronto General Hospital, 1977

Resources:

Digital script available through the Canadian Play Outlet. $12.00

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

3. https://www.pledgeproject.ca/plays/the-triumph-oh-teresa-harris/&nbsp;

The Triumph of Teresa Harris celebrates the lives of an extraordinary couple, Teresa Harris and St. George Littledale. Why have these intrepid explorers not been heard of outside the annals of Victorian exploration? The couple shunned publicity. Independently wealthy, they didn’t need to raise money for their expeditions. They reported to the Royal Society and directly to the King. This information was not to fall into the hands of foreign powers that were vying for the same territories as Britain. The Littledales preferred to serve the Empire’s glory, not their own. This is their story.

Characters:
  • Annie
  • Chris
  • First Teresa
  • Sarah
  • Mary
  • Tenzin
  • Passing Stranger, Cook
  • First Amelia
  • Helen
  • Eliza
  • Second Teresa
  • Scott
  • John
  • Second Amelia
  • St. George
  • Third Teresa

First Produced:

The Palace Theatre, London ON, 2017.

The Dream Life of Teresa Harris: Eldon House Historical Museum, London ON, 2013.

The Dream Life of Teresa Harris by Penn Kemp

Resources:

Digital copy available through the CPO website.

Notes:

Male Cast: 6
Female Cast: 10
Other Cast: 2
Total Cast: 18
Acts: 2

Sounds of Trance Formation

“For Penn Kemp, poetry is magic made manifest. While her subjects are varied, and her interests and approaches have evolved over the years, Kemp has always understood the power of spoken word to evoke emotion, shift consciousness, and shape the world. Drawing on a syncretic blend of spiritual philosophy informed by Alchemy, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other wisdom traditions, Kemp’s work is imminent and transcendent, embodied and cerebral. The words on the page produce certain effects, while the voices in the air produce others altogether.”
The Sounds of Trance Formation: An Interview with Penn Kemp”
Nick Beauchesne, Spoken Web Canada. To be podcast in December 2020.

“Refining the Alchemical Ear: Adept Listening Practices and the Poetry of George Bowering, Margaret Atwood, and Penn Kemp”
Nick Beauchesne, https://spokenweb.ca/events/virtual-listening-practice-guided-by-nick-beauchesne/
This workshop is a brief foray toward an “adept” listening practice; that is, to listen to poetry from the perspective of an aspiring adept, a seeker of spiritual and poetic truths. What can we learn about the seeker’s path, and about poetry, from the Masters? What is the relationship between magic, word, and sound? How does the experience change when encountering these verses visually vs. orally? Analog vs. digital? This week, Nick Beauchesne curates three poems selected from the University of Alberta’s SpokenWeb collection. These poems have been digitized from reel-to-reel recordings of poetry readings captured at the U of A in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and delivered by some heavy-hitters of Canadian literature. These readings touch on themes and practices derived from Alchemy, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Buddhism, Hinduism, and New Age philosophy. George Bowering, Margaret Atwood, and Penn Kemp (formerly Penny Chalmers) are the magical Masters from whom we will learn some new “tricks” of the poetic (and magical) trade. Research project with an interest in the study, preservation and creative use of literary and humanities-oriented audio recordings.”