Poem for an Awful Inauguration

January 20, 2017

This Awful Inauguration day augurs so
dimly for us all, and we aren’t even in
the United States. The world awaits

uncertain of outcome, certain only that
meanness prevails of heart and intent.
We’ve dropped into the well of offal.

An Awful Inauguration day augurs well
for the unduly rich but poorly for poor
and dispossessed, for poor middle class.

This Awful Inauguration day augurs ill
for Obamacare, for the health of a nation,
for all illegal aliens and for alienated arts.

This Awful Inauguration day augurs dimly
for us all, and we aren’t even in the Year
of the vain Fire Rooster till January 28.

O weather vane, you parade your lies as
truth. You spin with the wind. You turn.
You twitter and trumpet trust topsy-turvy.

This Awful Inauguration day crows triumph
for the cock of the walk, king for a day, or
another four years. We withhold, withstand

his very dangerous flash in a very wide pan.
But we don’t withdraw. We march, we hold
on, hold to, truth as we know it. We refuse.

We are other. We are alien. We protest: these
Auguries of Inauguration are not innocent.

Penn Kemp

Love Hope Opt 11779840_10152952905252051_2078125788695655817_o

1/1/17 Re:Solution

May your 2017 writing be inspired!

This poem is in my book, INCREMENTALS, Pendas Productions.

Re:Solution

we

weir

Virgo

weird gong

we’re going too

we’re going to be

we’re going to begin

we’re going to begin right

we’re going to begin writing and

we’re going to begin writing and purr

we’re going to begin writing and purr form

we’re going to begin writing and performing

we’re going to begin writing and performing some

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time

we’re going to begin writing and performing some diamond

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time whinney

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time whinney lick

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time whinney lick trick

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time whinney lick trick light

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time whinney lick trick light D

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time when electric light decent

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time when electric light descend through

we’re going to begin writing and performing some time when electric light descend through

fin

fin grr

finger tip

finger tip on

finger tip off

onoffonoffonoff

finger tip om

finger tip onto

finger tip onto calm

finger tip onto calm phew

finger tip onto calm pew tore

finger tip onto calm pew turkey

finger tip onto calm pew turkey bored

finger tip onto calm pew turkey bord and

finger tip onto computer board hand set

finger tip onto computer board and set us

finger tip onto computer board and set us free

we’re going to begin writing some time when electric light descend through finger tip onto computer board and set us free

maybe

Penn Kemp

penn-sound-performing-women-2016-monique-renaud

Photo credit: Playwrights Guild, at our Women and Media panel, Harbourfront,
Canadian Writers’ Summit, June 2016

Poem for Solstice Night

All Things Considered

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penn Kemp

*

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

A Year of Reading Dangerously: Memorial

Notes on Alice Oswald’s Memorial: a version of Homer’s Iliad
with an afterword by Eavan Boland.  W.W. Norton & Company.

“Like fire with its loose hair flying rushes through a city
The look of unmasked light shocks everything to rubble”

Alice Oswald’s Memorial: a version of Homer’s Iliad is a merciless, fully compassionate and all too relevant reading of The Illiad. This short, immensely weighted book drops the unresponsive body of narrative to reveal a poetry of pure heart: “I write through the Greek, not from it— aiming for translucence rather than translation.” Memorial is heart-rending into its specificity, enumerating the names of the dead in a litany reminiscent of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans  Memorial. I almost wrote ‘fallen’, the word of memorialists since the Great War.

Oswald enlists “‘enargeia’, which means something like ‘bright unbearable reality’. It’s the word used when gods come to earth not in disguise but as themselves. This version, trying to retrieve the poem’s enargeia, takes away superfluous narrative. Instead, Oswald evokes through similes traditional Greek pastoral and lament. But why or why does she not use the more assuaging and mellifluous ‘as’ instead of the obstreperous ‘like’ when introducing her similes… Perhaps she prefers the bluntness of ‘like’.

I misspelled history as ‘histroy’ and Spell Checker suggested, appropriately, his Troy. “The Iliad is a vocative poem. Perhaps even (in common with lament) it is invocative. It always addresses Patroculus as ‘you’, as if speaking directly to the dead… a kind of oral cemetery”. The poem presents in a phrase or epithet a man’s whole history as well as the manner of his death.  The olive tree is granted slightly more space in Oswald’s astonishing simile of life’s cycle:

“Like a man put a wand of olive in the earth
And watered it and that wand became a wave
It became a whip a spine a crown
It became a wind-dictionary
It could speak in tongues
It became a wobbling wagon-load of flowers
And then a storm came spinning by
And it became a broken tree uprooted
It became a wood pile in a lonely field.”

Another Alice Oswald was my English teacher at Medway High School: a dry stick we considered ancient. A dry stick who would burst to flame when reciting Keats’s ode. The image on the cover of PERFORMING WOMEN honours that flame as well.

performing-women-2016

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Acknowledgements Barbaric Cultural Practice

Available from Quattro Books, http://quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/

Next readings/launches:
November 6, 10am. Penn Kemp and Madeline Bassnett read together for this session @ Words, London’s Literary and Creative Arts Festival, http://wordsfest.ca/. The Lecture Theatre, Museum London, 421 Ridout St N, London, ON N6A 5H4. Contact: Joshua D Lambier, Artistic Director, jlambie2@uwo.ca. https://www.facebook.com/events/1136768886402917/http://wordsfest.ca/events/2016/penn-kemp-madeline-bassnett-in-conversation

Saturday, November 26, 2-4, pm. Book signing and Launch of Women & Multimedia and Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets. The Living Archives Series, The Feminist Caucus, League of Canadian Poets, http://poets.ca/wordpress/programs-2/feminist-caucus. Essayist and editor of the two anthologies. AND Barbaric Cultural Practice! Brown & Dickson, 519-318-1983, books@brownanddickson.com, http://www.brownanddickson.com, 609 Richmond Street, London  N6A 3G3

barbaric-cultural-practice_front-coverMany of the poems in Barbaric Cultural Practice were provoked into being by political events, ongoing, so I have co-opted the hashtag, #BarbaricCulturalPractice. I’m thrilled that Quattro was able to insert QR codes to sixteen of these poems, so you can experience them off the page as audio and video. My impulse in writing hovers along a long spectrum of indignation, compassion, horror, scorn and ridicule: a multitude of response that only poetry can, for me, express. Such reactions are expressed in http://www.thelondoner.ca/2016/09/28/penn-kemp-as-barbarian and this interview: https://pacifictranquility.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/what-made-me-a-poet-curiosity-the-thrill-of-adventure-of-new-worlds-qa-with-poet-penn-kemp/.

I’m deeply grateful for family and friends’ encouragement en route and ongoing during the evolution of these poems. The list is long and extends back decades. Special thanks to Allan Briesmaster, my editor and publisher of Barbaric Cultural Practice. A fine poet himself, he is the ideal editor, encouraging, engaging, and always astute. Thanks as well to my dear poet friends, Katerina Fretwell, Susan McCaslin, and most especially to Susan McMaster, for their keen eyes and ears and discerning comments. I’m grateful to all who wrote such enthusiastic endorsements: Di Brandt, George Elliot Clarke, Katerina Fretwell, Laurie D. Graham, Leona Graham, Dennis Maloney, Susan McCaslin, Susan McMaster, Elizabeth Waterston and Sheri-D Wilson! See https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/endorsements-for-barbaric-cultural-practice/. Thanks to J. R. (Tim) Struthers, for suggesting the title, “The Hart of London.” And to Catherine Ross, my literary executrix!

The cover painting, Transporting, is by my beloved friend, Anne Anglin. It is her vivid
interpretation of an equally vivid dream I had. Gavin Stairs included some of these poems in artbooks, republishing earlier works through our little company, Pendas Productions. I have posted poems on www.pennkemp.wordpress.com. Several of these poems or lines therein have been published in my books: Binding Twine (Ragweed Press), Trance Form (Soft Press), Some Talk Magic (Ergo Productions), Throo (Moonstone Press), ANIMUS (Caitlin Press), as well as two chapbooks: Eidolons (White Pine Press) and from Dream Sequins, (Lyrical Myrical Press).

Poetry needs to be heard as well as read, so I have concentrated in recent years on audio renditions and videopoems in collaboration with Bill Gilliam, John Magyar, Dennis Siren, and Gavin Stairs: available from Pendas Productions, pendas@pennkemp.ca.

Several of the poems in Barbaric Cultural Practice were commissioned by activist organizations. Versions of most of the poems were first published in magazines, literary journals and newspapers. I would like to thank the editors of all the literary magazines that support Canadian writing. The London Free Press and Metro News (London) have been most supportive in publishing occasional poems over the last decade. I would like to thank all those editors who support and promote Canadian writing. The League of Canadian Poets has supported most of the readings where these poems were performed. A Toronto Arts Council grant gave me much appreciated time to write

Where you may have read these poems, in other incarnations or reprinted:

“Celebrating Tree in Souwesto,” “The Hart of London.” Another London Anthology, harmonia press, September 2016

Tuck Magazine in Britain recently reprinted the following poems: “Arms and the Boy”, “Demeter’s Exclusion Sector” and “May Day, 1945”, http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/10/06/poetry-558/. “Smog Alert” and “Gender Bias Even Among the Elements”, http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/09/19/poetry-532/. “Synaesthetics”, “Filling the Cart” and “Giving Your Word”, http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/09/05/poetry-512/.
“Tip Line”, “The Nature of Food”, Tuck Magazine, http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/08/23/poetry-493/

Seven poems are in Danse Macabre: An Online Literary Magazine #99, Pictures of Life, Eletkepek, July 2016.  The poem “Solstice” was chosen as Danse Macabre du Jour, https://dmdujour.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/penn-kemp-solstice/  “Reflecting Mimesis” and “All things Considered”, https://dmdujour.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/penn-kemp-two-poems/  and http://dansemacabre.art.officelive.com/DanseMacabreDuJour.aspx.

“Given a Line.”CV2. Contemporary Verse 2.V.38.3, Winter 2016. http://www.contemporaryverse2.ca/en/store/issue/the-open-issue3

“Walking on the Moon.” Cordite/Arc. http://cordite.org.au/content/poetry/ohcanada/, http://cordite.org.au/newsblog/walking-on-the-moon/

“Grazing the Face of Climate Change,” “Gender Bias Even Among the Elements,” “Middle March and Beyond.” Canadian Woman Studies: Women and Water, Vol. 30, Nos. 2, 3. Inanna Publications, http://inanna.ca/index.php/catalog/women-and-water/

“Heart to Art,” “Too Close for Comfort.” Goddess Pages, Issue #27: Summer 2015. http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/three-poems-from-penn-kemp/#more-2890    https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/goddess-poems-2015/

“Five Poems on Food.”
http://www.londonpoetryopenmic.com/biographies–featured-poets–musicians/penn-kemp-featuring-with-john-nyman-at-london-open-mic-april-1st-bio-and-poems

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Fall Events with Penn Kemp

See you at these Upcoming Events!

November 6, 10am. Penn Kemp and Madeline Bassnett read together for this session @Words, Words, London’s Literary and Creative Arts Festival, http://wordsfest.ca/. The Lecture Theatre, Museum London, 421 Ridout St N, London, ON N6A 5H4. Contact: Joshua D Lambier, Artistic Director, jlambie2@uwo.ca.
http://wordsfest.ca/events/2016/penn-kemp-madeline-bassnett-in-conversation

Saturday, November 26, 2-4, pm. Book signing of Barbaric Cultural Practice and Launch of Women & Multimedia and Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets from The Living Archives Series, The Feminist Caucus, League of Canadian Poets: Penn is essayist and editor of the two anthologies.Brown & Dickson, 609 Richmond Street, London  N6A 3G3. Contact: 519-318-1983, books@brownanddickson.com, http://www.brownanddickson.com

http://www.thelondoner.ca/2016/09/28/penn-kemp-as-barbarian

http://www.londonculture.ca/things-we-do/poet-laureate/past-poet-laureates
Thanks for a grand couple of years to the London Arts Council!

Penn, sounding at Canadian Writers’ Summit at Toronto’s Harbourfront, June 2016.  Photo: Monique Renaud for Playwrights Guild of Canada

penn-sound-performing-women-2016-monique-renaud

Recently…

Wednesday, October 5, 2016; doors open 7:00 pm; start time 7:30 p.m. Quattro Book Launch, Toronto, Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta Ave. (event room at rear of dining area) Free. Contact: info@quattrobooks.ca, http://www.supermarketto.ca/
Six authors: Sanita Fejzić, from Ottawa, with her novella Psychomachia
Penn Kemp, from London ON, with her book of poetry Barbaric Cultural Practice
Susan McCaslin, from Victoria, BC, with her book of poetry Painter, Poet, Mountain
Richard Osler, from Duncan, BC, with his book of poetry Hyaena Season
Cora Siré, from Montreal, with her novella The Other Oscar
Laura Swart, from Calgary, with her novella Blackbird Calling

Friday, October 7, 2016, 7:30- 8:30pm. Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, AGO Friday Nights in October, Signy Eaton Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto  M5T 1G4. Call 1-877-225-4246 or 416-979-6648. AGO features Penn Kemp and Paul Dutton, sound poets. The topic is streaming influences from the ’70’s: http://www.ago.net/new-ago-exhibition-explores-the-experimental-energy-of-the-toronto-art-scene-in-the-70s-and-80s.  More details, including a schedule of performances, will be posted on http://www.ago.net. Host Lillian Allen. Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members.
“I am wanting to feature some of the roots of the aesthetic influence on our city. I am thinking about the important and artistically liberating roles your  (mostly) sound works played. The fact that you were a woman inspired me so much. Your sound explorations and experimentations always make me feel so happy and empowered. The power of your art has never left me. So I am paying tribute to you by asking you to read/perform in this series.” Lillian Allen. https://www.ago.net/toronto-tributes-tributaries-1971-1989

Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm. London launch of Penn’s poetry book, Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books). Oxford Book Shop, 262 Piccadilly Street, London N6A 1S4.
Contact: Hilary bookorderprocessing@oxfordbookshop.com. Tel: 519-438-8336.

Saturday, October 15, 2016, 2 pm. Penn reading from her play “The Triumph of Teresa Harris” and Barbaric Cultural Practice. With Daniel Kolos, Antony Christie. The Garafraxa Café, 131 Garafraxa Street South (Highway 6), Durham ON. Contact: danielkolos123@gmail.com or Michelle and Kevin Bossi, 226-432-2175, garafraxacafe@gmail.com. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

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Barbaric Cultural Practice

Poetry from Quattro Books:

Barbaric Cultural Practice

Paperback | October 1, 2016

by Penn Kemp

In praise and rant, the poems in Barbaric Cultural Practice pay tribute to our dear Mother World’s enchantments as well as her upheavals. They confront the stresses of urban life as juxtaposed to nature’s round, and deal, for example, with the effect of computers on our psyche and with the imprint of electronic media upon perception, consciousness and dream life. They are a response to the need for action against climate change and a humorous protest against overwhelming technology.

Quattro Book Launch, Wednesday, October 5, 2016; doors open 7:00 pm; start time 7:30. Toronto, Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta Ave. (event room at rear of dining area) Free. Contact: info@quattrobooks.ca, http://www.supermarketto.ca/

 

Barbaric Cultural Practice Transporting.jpg

Cover Painting, “Transporting” by Anne Anglin

Q&A: https://pacifictranquility.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/what-made-me-a-poet-curiosity-the-thrill-of-adventure-of-new-worlds-qa-with-poet-penn-kemp/

Sample poems: “Tip Line”, “The Nature of Food”, Tuck Magazine,

Poetry

“Synaesthetics”, “Filling the Cart” and “Giving Your Word”,  Tuck Magazine, http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/09/05/poetry-512/

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