Launch of The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, CD, with Augmented Reality!

Summer Blessings!

SUNDAY, JULY 22, 1:00 P.M.

Join local poet and playwright Penn Kemp for an afternoon of readings from The Dream Life of Teresa Harris and Local Heroes, paired with a viewing of ‘Augmented Reality’ exhibits by artist Mary McDonald.  Books and CD’s will be available for purchase.

Mary’s visual art and animation of my play will run for a week in Eldon House following the tea.

Details on http://www.eldonhouse.ca/events/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/2111776722426553/.

Eldon House
481 Ridout Street North
London, Ontario
519.661.5169
info@eldonhouse.ca

ELDON HOUSE INTERPRETIVE CENTRE
(AND GROUNDS FOR TEA OPTION)

COST: $6.00 + HST IN ADVANCE OR $8.00 AT THE DOOR (FOR ADMISSION ONLY)

OR $30.00 + HST FOR ADMISSION PLUS AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE AUTHOR AND ARTIST! THIS OPTION INCLUDES OUR REGULAR SUMMER TEA MENU.

Registration required through Eldon House.

Video by Mary McDonald

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Launch of LOCAL HEROES

Launch of Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) by Penn Kemp

April 19,2018, Lecture Theatre
Museum London, 421 Ridout St N.

6:30-7:15. Curator Tour: Women’s Lives in Canada: A History, 1875-2000
7:30-8:30. Penn’s reading
8:30-9 pm. Book signing

Join London poet and playwright Penn Kemp for the launch of her book
Local Heroes (Insomniac Press). Local Heroes is a celebration of regional artists from Greg Curnoe and James Kemp to writers Alice Munro, Colleen Thibaudeau and Bonnie Burnard.  New poems about explorer Teresa Harris are featured.

The evening includes an exhibition tour with curator Amber Lloydlangston, followed by Insomniac Press publisher Mike O’Connor and Penn’s reading.

The theatre will show several short videos on Local Heroes by Dennis Siren, Mary McDonald and Western’s Community Engaged Learning. The poet will then sign books.

Contact: Museum London, 519 661-0333, info@museumlondon.ca
http://museumlondon.ca/programs-events/event/2458/2018/04/19
promo video: https://youtu.be/x-edwKodu0s
https://www.facebook.com/events/181506832475203/

For more about LOCAL HEROES, please see http://poetryminiinterviews.blogspot.ca/2018/03/penn-kemp-part-one.html.

https://www.amazon.ca/Local-Heroes-Penn-Kemp/dp/1554832063

B1458pl8620file203 (2)

Cover photo courtesy Harris Fonds, Western Archives, Western University

Poetry Mini Interview

What are you working on?
 
My next project, LOCAL HEROES, Insomniac Press, 2018, celebrates legendary cultural heroes from London, Ontario. These poems evoke a specific city in its particular landscape and history. London’s literary and artistic heritage is documented, honouring artists in fields ranging from visual and language arts to figure skating. Presented as an overview, the collection stretches from Victoria explorer Teresa Harris to the contemporary arts scene. Local Heroes acknowledges the Indigenous peoples here, and the ongoing waves of settlers who have called the area home, as London grew from colonial outpost to vibrant cultural centre. Local Heroes spans time but remains in place.
 
Landscape shapes us by its distinctive atmosphere. Southwestern Ontario (Souwesto) is a peninsula bordered by two Great Lakes and by the United States. Local Heroes examines the works of artists who have been influenced by the pervading spirit of Souwesto. In classical Rome, a genius loci was the protective spirit of the local, depicted as a figure holding a libation bowl. London is situated in a bowl scraped out from receding glaciers. This bowl teems over with the productions of its arts through time. Why? What has made London a creative centre? As a mid-sized county seat set in the fertile farmland of Middlesex County, London is in the middle, entre lacs, between two metropolises, Toronto and Detroit, at the edge of the Snow Belt. Because it is so surrounded, London began as a garrison, a fiercely conservative British enclave that held tight to tradition and conventional mores. Artists who lived here could rebel, conform or leave.
 
The collection present three sections, in historical order. It opens with an exploration of the exploits of Teresa Harris, who escaped her corsets along with her colonial upbringing in London’s Eldon House. Like me, this explorer travelled widely for decades before returning home with memories and mementoes. The poems devoted to Teresa consist of outtakes from my play, The Triumph of Teresa Harris, that were best expressed as poetry. The middle section is What the Heart Parts, also produced as a play and a Sound Opera.When the Heart Parts is based on the life and death of her father, Jim Kemp, London artist and mentor of artists in the 1950s. In my work, poetry and drama intersect, the way two branches of the Thames meet at the Forks.
 
The second half of the book is a tribute to local London creators. I was lucky enough to grow up in an artistic household and so was introduced to many of London’s cultural icons. Anecdotes abound. “London Local Heroes” recognizes several of those artists who broke through conservative conventions to create and celebrate their own community. Cultural activists had to develop their own vibrant and exciting arts scene or be pulled away to the larger metropolis east or west of London. Transformation happens in the local, through the intersection of culture, art and geography that defines the regional. Local Heroes offers an empowering vision of regionalism: we are at our own centre, our own gravitational field, where activism is most effective. We are at the centre of a cultural cauldron where opposites mingle and mix. Here the arts are cultivated and emerge as rich as the farmland surrounding London. The centre not only holds but opens up to the world, rippling out in concentric circles.
Penn Kemp
For more, please see
by Thomas Whyte.

 

Books Read, 2017

Ah, the season of lists…

Here’s to curling up with a good book! Happy reading…

Poetry highly recommended:
Roo Borson, Rain, road, an open boat
Susan McCaslin, Into the Open
Sharon Thesen, The Receiver
Daphne Marlatt, Reading Sveva

Some of my favourite prose this year: all by Canadian women!:

Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster
Alison Pick, Strangers With the Same Dream
Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal
Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant
Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister
Karen Connelly‏, The Change Room
Louise Penny, Glass Houses
Emma Donoghue, Landing

And two English writers:
Paula Cocozza, How to be human  
Margaret Drabble, The Dark Flood Rises

Not to mention the brilliant stylist, Adam Gopnik, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York, and James King, The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe

Here’s the list: an odd mixture.  Because of a concussion, I was limited to light reading for some months. Thank goodness for audio books!

Books Read, 2017

Cecelia Ahern, Lyrebird

Yehuda Amichai, The poetry of Yehuda Amichai / edited by Robert Alter

Kelley Armstrong, A darkness absolute

John Ashbery, Commotion of the birds / new poems by John Ashbery

Kate Atkinson, Emotionally weird: a comic novel

Kate Atkinson, Started early, took my dog

Kate Atkinson, When will there be good news?

Margaret Atwood; illustrated by Duan Petrii. A trio of tolerable tales
Margaret Atwood, Angel Catbird. Vol. 1 / story by Margaret Atwood; illustrations by Johnnie Christmas
Margaret Atwood, Angel Catbird #2: To Castle Catula
Margaret Atwood, The Burgess Shale: the Canadian writing landscape of the 1960s

Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1

Sarah Bakewell, At the existentialist café: freedom, being and apricot cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre [and others]

Peter Balakian, Ozone journal

Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture

Gary Barwin, No TV for woodpeckers: poems

Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother

Peter S. Beagle, Summerlong

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

Ann Beattie, The accomplished guest: stories

Brit Bennett, The Mothers

Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy: how the mind can heal the heart

David Bergen, Stranger

John Berger, Portraits: John Berger on artists

Lucia Berlin, A manual for cleaning women: selected stories; edited and with an introduction by Stephen Emerson; foreword by Lydia Davis

Jill Bialosky, Poetry will save your life: a memoir

Roo Borson, Rain, road, an open boat

David Bouchard; paintings by Kristy Cameron; music by Stephen Kakfwi; Ojibwe language by Jason and Nancy Jones. Dreamcatcher and the seven deceivers= Asabikeshiiwasp gaye awiya oga-gagwe-niisibidoon

Brian Bouldrey, editor. Inspired journeys: travel writers in search of the muse

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three; Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity

Erin Bow, The Swan Riders

Melanie Brooks, Writing hard stories: celebrated memoirists who shaped art from trauma

Dan Brown, Origin: A Novel

Vanessa Brown and Jason Dickson, London: 150 Cultural Moments

Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant intelligence and the imaginal

Jessie Burton, The Muse

Steve Burrows, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds a Birder Murder Mystery

Steve Burrows, A cast of falcon

Sharon Butala, Where I live now: a journey through love and loss to healing and hope

Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal

J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country

Kate Cayley, Other houses

Michael Chabon, Moonglow

Tracy Chevalier, The lady and the unicorn

Tracy Chevalier, ed. Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre

Pema Chödrön, The compassion book: teachings for awakening the heart

Ann Cleeves, Blue lightning

Ann Cleeves, Dead water

Lynn Coady, Who needs books?: reading in the digital age

Harlan Coben, Fool me once

Paula Cocozza, How to be human

Karen Connelly‏, The Change Room

Lynn Crosbie, The corpses of the future

Lorna Crozier, The Wrong Cat

Laura Cumming, The Vanishing Velazquez

Rachel Cusk, Transit

Ram Dass, Polishing the mirror: how to live from your spiritual heart

Wade Davis, Wade Davis: photographs

Albert Flynn DeSilver, Writing As A Path To Awakening

David Demchuk, The Bone Mother

Mary di Michele, Bicycle thieves

Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau, Awakening higher consciousness: guidance from ancient Egypt and Sumer

Joan Didion, South and West

Emma Donoghue, The Lotterys Plus One

Emma Donoghue, Landing

Margaret Drabble, The Dark Flood Rises

Philip Eade, Sylvia: queen of the headhunters: an eccentric Englishwoman and her lost kingdom

Elena Ferrante, Fragments

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey Translated by Ann Goldstein

Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookstore

Penelope Fitzgerald, At Freddie’s

Philip Freeman, Searching for Sappho: the lost songs and world of the first woman poet: including new translations of all of Sappho’s surviving poetry

Tana French, The Trespasser

Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist

Penelope Fitzgerald, The bookshop

Christopher Fowler, Full Dark House

Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology

Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop

Malin Persson Giolito, Quicksand; translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

Philip Glass, Words without music: a memoir

James Gleick, Time Travel: A History

Rumer Godden; introduction by Phyllis Tickle, In this house of Brede

Al Gore, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Nora Gould, Selah

Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister

Naomi Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing

Herman Goodden, Three Artists: William Kurelek, Jack Chambers & Greg Curnoe

Daisy Goodwin, Victoria

Adam Gopnik, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York

Robert Gottlieb, Avid Reader: A Life

Philippa Gregory, The Last Tudor

Terry Griggs, Nieve

Terry Griggs, The discovery of honey

John Grisham, Camino Island

David Grossman, A horse walks into a bar

Don Gutteridge, The way it was / poems by Don Gutteridge

Joan Haggerty, The Dancehall Years

Kang Han, The vegetarian: a novel

Graham Hancock, Magicians of the gods: the forgotten wisdom of Earth’s lost civilisation

Yuval Harari, Homo deus: a brief history of tomorrow

Michael Helm, After James

Brenda Hillman, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire

James Hillman & Sonu Shamdasani, Lament of the dead: psychology after Jung’s Red book

Anne Hillerman, Song of the Lion

Susan Holbrook, Throaty wipes

Emma Hooper, Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders

Sarah Howe, Loop of Jade

Helen Humphreys, The river

Markus Imhoof & Claus-Peter Lieckfeld, More than honey: the survival of bees and the future of our world

Anosh Irani, The Parcel

Annie Jacobsen, Phenomena: the secret history of the U.S. government’s investigations into extrasensory perception and psychokinesis

Tama Janowitz, Scream: a memoir of glamour and dysfunction

Greg Jenkins, Theban oracle: discover the magic of the ancient alphabet that changes lives

Marni Jackson, Don’t I know you?

Paulette Jiles, News of the World

Han Kang, The Vegetarian

Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

James King, The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe

Naomi Klein, No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need

Christina Baker Kline, Orphan train: a novel

Joy Kogawa, Gently to Nagasaki

Hari Kunzru, White Tears

  1. Travis Lane, Crossover: poems

John Le Carré, A Legacy of Spies

Genevieve Lehr, Stomata

Donna Leon, Death in a strange country

Donna Leon, The waters of eternal youth

Donna Leon, Falling in Love

Donna Leon, Death and Judgement

Donna Leon, Quietly in Their Sleep

Donna Leon, Drawing conclusions: a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery

Donna Leon, The girl of his dreams

Donna Leon, Looks are deceiving

Donna Leon, Through a glass darkly

Donna Leon, Suffer the little children

Donna Leon, Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

Martine Leavitt, My book of life by Angel

Deborah Levy, Hot Milk

Penelope Lively, The purple swamp hen and other stories

Beau Lotto, Deviate: the science of seeing differently

Charles C Lovett, The Lost Book of the Grail

Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks

Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant

Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs

Henning Mankell, Quicksand: what it means to be a human being

Lee Maracle, Talking to the diaspora

Stephen Marche, The Unmade Bed: the messy truth about men and women in the 21st century

Megan Marshall, Elizabeth Bishop: a miracle for breakfast

Daphne Marlatt, Reading Sveva

Elan Mastai, All our wrong todays: a novel

Alexander McCall Smith, Precious and Grace

Alexander McCall Smith, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Anna & Jane McGarrigle, Mountain city girls: the McGarrigle family album

Ami McKay, The Witches of New York

Adrian McKinty, The Cold Cold Ground

John McWhorter, The language hoax: why the world looks the same in any language

Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Coyote Medicine

Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior  

John Metcalf, The museum at the end of the world

Claire Messud, The Burning Girl

Anne Michaels, All We Saw

Jacob Mooney, Don’t Be Interesting

Robert Moss, Sidewalk oracles: playing with signs, symbols, and synchronicity in everyday life

Rhonda Mullins, Twenty-One Cardinals, Coach House Books. English translation of Les héritiers de la mine by Jocelyne Saucier

Alice Munro Dear life: [stories]

Haruki Murakami, Wind; Pinball: two novels

Shane Neilson, On shaving off his face: poems

Jo Nesbo, The Thirst  yuck

John Nyman, Players

Heather O’Neill, The lonely hearts hotel

David Orr, You, too, could write a poem: selected reviews and essays, 2000-2015 *

Orhan Pamuk, The Red-Haired Woman

Molly Peacock, Analyst

Louise Penny, Glass Houses

Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent

Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Heaven

Alison Pick, Strangers With the Same Dream

Nancy Geddes Poole, The past— comes back: a memoir

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Steven Price, By Gaslight

Francine Prose, Mister Monkey: a novel

Philip Pullman, Mystery of the Ghost Ship

Philip Pullman, The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

Andrew Pyper, The Only Child: A Novel

Susan Quinn, Eleanor and Hick: the love affair that shaped a First Lady

Matt Rader, Desecrations

Ian Rankin, Rather Be the Devil

Michael Redhill, Bellevue Square

Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Robbie Robertson, Testimony

Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster

Peter Robinson, In the Dark Places

Judith Rodger, Greg Curnoe: Life & Work

Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Bernard Sanders, Our revolution: a future to believe in

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: time, memory, marriage

Will Schwalbe, Books for Living

Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

Gregory Scofield, Witness, I am

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This accident of being lost: songs and stories

Sue Sinclair, Heaven’s Thieves

Robin Sloan, Sourdough

Carolyn Smart, Careen

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions

Linda Spalding, The Reckoning

Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others

Mirabai Starr, Caravan of no despair: a memoir of loss and transformation

Jon Kalman Stefansson, Fish Have No Feet

D.E. Stevenson, Miss Buncle’s book

Elizabeth Strout, Anything Is Possible

Cordelia Strube, On the shores of darkness, there is light

Matthew Sullivan, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Shaun Tan; foreword by Neil Gaiman, The singing bones: inspired by Grimms’ fairy tales

Deborah Tannen, You’re the only one I can tell: inside the language of women’s friendships

Charles Taylor, The language animal: the full shape of the human linguistic capacity

Susan McCaslin,
Sharon Thesen, The Receiver

Laura Thompson, The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

James Thurber, The Wonderful O

Colm Toibin, House of Names

Tomas Tranströmer, The great enigma: new collected poems; translated from Swedish by Robin Fulton

Rose Tremain, The Gustav Sonata: a novel

Jeff VanderMeer, Borne

Katherena Vermette, The Break

Karen Virag, editing Canadian English: a guide for editors, writers and everyone who works with words / editor-in-chief

Eleanor Wachtel, The Best of Writers & Company

Martin Walker, Bruno, Chief of Police

Martin Walker, Bruno, Chief of Police, Fatal pursuit: a Bruno, chief of police novel

Martin Walker, The Templars’ Last Secret: A Bruno, Chief of Police novel

Mary Walsh, Crying for the moon: a novel

Phyllis Webb, Peacock Blue, The Collected Poems

Izabella Wentz, Hashimoto’s Protocol

Hank Wesselman, Medicinemaker: mystic encounters on the Shaman’s path

Jennifer Welsh, The Return of History: Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-first Century

Zoe Whittall, The Best Kind of People

Kathleen Winter, Lost in September

Jeanette Winterson, Christmas days: 12 stories and 12 feasts for 12 days

Peter Wohlleben; foreword by Tim Flannery; The hidden life of trees: what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world

Gwendolyn Womack, The fortune teller

Diana Wynne Jones, Witch week

Jon Young; with science and audio editing by Dan Gardoqui, What the robin knows: how birds reveal the secrets of the natural world

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

Jan Zwicky, The long walk

Jan Zwicky, Wittgenstein Elegies, intro: Sue Sinclair

penn-1950

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/22/scuffed-efaced-erased

No automatic alt text available.

Photos of the poem by {poetry in Cobourg spaces} .

An Exercise in Erasure

Scuffed! Effaced!

a Poem without Posterity, a Poem in Pics

Cuz Fuzz As lovely (and acceptable) and welcome as Penn Kemp‘s words are … someone found them unpalatable (for some unknown and impossible to discern reason). Sometime between Noon and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, 2017, someone had defaced the lines.

They scuffed many of the words away, plus they employed the little bit of water from a small bowl left out front of Meet at 66 King East for dogs to drink as they pass-by. That was used to wash away certain words — no one could make rhyme nor reason about why they picked certain words instead of others; in addition, they wrote and drew there what were taken to be words and symbols of a religious zealot. Was this the work of an actual religious zealot’s mind, or, was someone was pulling some sort of “performance art” put-on against against the purple rectangle … hoping we would give them a reaction, etc. … as if “trolls” emerged from online existence into the real life of King Street, Cobourg?

It is impossible to think of anything about the lines from Penn Kemp that would produce this response.

People can be odd.

The rectangle was washed clean. The first things removed by sweeping and with water were the add-ons of zealot-nature. It was only then that the thought occurred, “Oh, we should get photos of how it was defaced before washing it all away.” So, the slogans and drawings do not show in these photos. (That is probably just as well. Why broadcast the zealotry?) One of the photos shows outlined in red the spots where the drawings and religious sayings were shown.

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Jf Pickersgill

Jf Pickersgill Thank you, Penn Kemp. Thank you to Wally Keeler for taking (and sharing) the photos.

The defacing is bizarre. I believe it has little to do with Penn (zero to do with her, actually) or anything in her words. There have been other recent instances on two or three occasions, where someone has spit on a word and then scuffed it with the sole of their shoe, and, where someone spilled the full contents of a slushie (purple and red in colour — grape & strawberry flavour, perhaps) all over Stanza Room Only when there were no words there at all. This purple rectangle of sidewalk may have become the focus of someone’s mental obsession (for whatever reason) … through no fault of Stanza Room Only’s own.

I saw the expressions of zealotry in the couple of hours that they showed before they were erased.

One was a drawing of a church with a Cross on the steeple.

Another proclaimed that “The end is near!”

Another was a hard-to-figure drawing that might have been a poorly drawn attempt at the ichthys (“Jesus fish”) — which ended up looking more like a shark circling around on itself to bite its own tail (now that I write that description, I think, “Hmmm. Maybe the best ichthys ever”).

There was something else there, too, that I cannot remember right now.

It was weird, not eerie in the context of every day life but strange in the context of some beautiful words of poetry presented for the public to read. Not an overly provocative act, even in comparison to some of the words people have chalked in Stanza Room Only during the past 3 years.

Because I am fascinated by the workings of human minds, I thought some clues might arise from examining which individual words were the target of the attempt to not-only-scuff the chalk but also to wash letters away with the tiny amount of water available in the bowl-for-passing-dogs.

“fare” “unjaded” “beans” “Three” and “thrive.” If there are clues there, I cannot uncover the meaning of the clues. It might be that there was no focus on specific words but a late dawning about the fact that the water was not going to go as far as was thought.

Penn Kemp
Penn Kemp Anti-feminist?Anti- Indigenous? (“The Three Sisters thrive”). Or random…Odd they left my name unscathed. I’m grateful for the documentation, visual and verbal! And for the opportunity to be inscribed on your sidewalk, momentarily:)!
Jf Pickersgill

Jf Pickersgill Well, your words were there for more than 24 hours. That is good, actually. Sometimes weather conspires to rinse away words earlier than that with rain or to erode the chalk with wind and non-deliberate scuffing from the shoes of passers-by can be the cause of early erasure, too.

Someone else with whom I had this discussion immediately came up with similar thoughts, Penn … “Is it because the words are pro-woman? Is it the call-out to First Nations traditions?”

Nina Grigg

Nina Grigg Well at least Facebook allows evidence of the original work to be preserved. The emotional impact of the words combined with the setting may be what led to its defacement. I wonder if the offender had any clue about the meaning of the poetry? It’s feels like a violent act, makes me feel a little nauseous. I think it is directed towards both the feminine and the indigenous (which are impossible to separate, I think.)

Jf Pickersgill
Jf Pickersgill Yes. That is an important point. It did cause distress to see this deliberate defacing activity. It did come across as deliberate aggression. Penn‘s words appearing in Stanza Room Only had strong impact, no doubt about that. It is difficult to conceptualize anyone taking these lines as having negative impact, though. Clearly that view might be naive.

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Fare Trade

Sustenance cover 2017

Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food. Rachel Rose, editor. Anvil Press Publishers, October, 2017. https://alllitup.ca/books/S/Sustenance#overview,

The anthology is launching October 22 in Vancouver! Wish I could be there but my poem will have to sustain:) http://writersfest.bc.ca/festival-events/sustenance-a-feast-of-voices/

Sustenance anthology 2017

Here’s my contribution to the feast:

“Fare Trade”

I would eat local food only were it not for temptation.
A green invitation of open avocado in emerald halves.
An alluring variety of mango hot to eye, cool to tongue.

The seduction of dark chocolate.
The slurped fulfilment in oyster.
The simple necessity of rice.

Otherwise, I would be content with my yard’s fall produce.
But having tasted the world’s fare, how to return unjaded
to simple pleasures that this ground offers?  Beans.

Corn.  Squash.  Corn.  Beans.  The three sisters thrive.

Yes, I will eat local food mostly.  Except for.   Except for…
Accept.  Chocolate.  No chicory compares to caf頡u lait.
Ole!  Import coffee; import tea!  Import taunt.

On to political rant: our food too cheap, our farmers ruined.

Our eyes closed, we rest easy, spoiled ripe fruit in the docks,
turning sleepy to sun-rotten.  Given so much, we reach for more

even when over full.  And poems break off as the lunch bell rings.

Penn Kemp
from Luminous Entrance: a sound opera for climate change action

“Fare Trade” is published in Barbaric Cultural Practice, Quattro Books.
http://quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/

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A poem for Vimy

“In the slow dream of trees may the men awake / who died here”

This is a line from my poem, ‘The Stand of Oak”,
http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/the-stand-of-oak/.
The poem will be read at Vimy on the Centenary, April 9, 2017.

I am so touched that the line has been carved on the Vimy Flute: read its amazing story on http://vimyflute.blogspot.ca/2017/03/introducing-vimy-flute.html.  The flute will be played at Vimy Ridge April 9 and on the battlefields of France throughout April.  What an honour.

The Stand of Oak

Battle’s devastation cut down men and oaks,
leaving Vimy Ridge bare from ’16 till now.
But one veteran sent a few acorns to Canada

and raised a grove memento. Now these trees
will stand as metaphor for endurance, mingled
roots living on in lieu of the soldiers who fell.

Now our Canadian branches will be returning
home to be grafted on European oak saplings.
They’ll respond to wind in the crackling Fall.

These oaks will listen through trembling roots
to news that travels in the near neighbourwood:
subtle climate shiftings from drought to deluge.

The lobed leaves that open to embrace sun, to
soak in rain: they will know a longer time we
can only imagine, knowing history’s record.

This copse you plant now may not remember
a war a century past though it could realize its
own long span to last the whole millennium.

The oaks you plant on Vimy Ridge will not be
thinking of men today or ever: their work is in
attending to the rise from heartwood out to leaf.

These oaks may not thank you personally but
their presence is gratitude enough, is witness.
Thriving, they will return life to Vimy Ridge.

In the slow dream of trees may the men awake
who died here. May they be recalled by name
in their prime, rising as hope from desolation.

Vimy flute 2017

@vimyfoundation @pennkemp Fantastic!

Stephen Rensink has carved the Vimy Flute and Ryan Mullens will play it at Vimy Ridge and on the battlefields of France.

Sir Arthur Currie was my great-uncle: I grew up hearing stories of #Vimy100
An honour to have a poem read @1917Vimy, http://www.vimyfoundation.ca.

On my BC tour for my new book from Quattro Books, Barbaric Cultural Practice, I’ll be reading this poem.  https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/heres-to-spring-and-the-spring-tour/.

You can see the video of my reading on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWNwTXr1FMM&index=3&list=PLlK1FubxTgqpR9NBS_rtPz865021PC2fD.

From the London Free Press: “Verse and sound stir Vimy salute“:

http://www.lfpress.com/2017/04/07/verse-and-sound-stir-vimy-salute

London poet Penn Kemp won’t be at Vimy Ridge Sunday when the 100th anniversary of the historic battle won by Canadian soldiers in 1917 is commemorated.

But she’ll be there in words, music and spirit on the battlefield where her great uncle Sir Arthur Currie led one of the four Canadian divisions to what historians say was a nation-building victory.

A poem by Kemp, A Stand of Oak, will be read at Vimy. Also, retired Canadian army reservist Ryan Mullens will play Amazing Grace at the ridge on a two-pronged drone flute made of Vimy oak with a line from Kemp’s poem — “In the slow dream of trees may the men awake who died here” — engraved on it.

“I was truly, truly honoured,” said Kemp about her poem and the line written on the flute.

“(Mullens) will be playing the flute at all the battlefields this week. I was really moved when they asked me if they could use the line.”


An excerpt from Penn Kemp’s poem A Stand of Oaks is engraved on the flute that will be played on Vimy Ridge on Sunday. (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

The “Vimy oak” of the flute comes from a stand of trees grown from acorns collected by Canadian solider Leslie Miller at the end of the battle that he sent home and were planted in Scarborough.

Today, the stand of trees is called Vimy Oaks. Since there are no longer oak trees on the ridge where a memorial was built to commemorate the battle, a group of Canadians, in partnership with the Vimy Foundation, is making plans to plant descendants of the original trees as a memorial to the Canadian soldiers who died there.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9-12, 1917, involved four Canadian divisions victorious against three German divisions and is considered by historians as a major symbol of nationhood.

The Canadian force of 97,000 men suffered casualties of 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded, with four men later awarded the highest military honour, the Victoria Cross.

Kemp, London’s first poet laureate, is touring Western Canada promoting her new book of poems, Barbaric Cultural Practice.

But Kemp will read A Stand of Oak at each stop, including Sunday in New Westminster.

“It’s very stirring to me, the music of the two-pronged flute because it has a very mournful sound with the melody played on one side and a drone on the other like a bagpipe,” Kemp said. “But also because I have Celtic heritage.”

The flute was crafted by retired teacher Stephen Rensink, who lives in the tiny hamlet of Greenbank, north of Oshawa.

“It was Ryan’s idea to make the flute and we originally thought of using maple,” said Rensink, who carved three flutes from the oak, a hobby that’s produced more than 600 instruments over the years.

“But then Ryan came across this story about the Vimy Oaks, a woodlot I’d driven by many times.

“Then we started talking about putting some kind of symbol on the flute, something like Lest We Forget, and I started researching and came across this poem by Penn on the Vimy Foundation website.

“When I read that line, I thought, ‘Holy cow, this is it. This is the one.’ It just hit me. It was so crystal clear to me.”

Wrote Mullens in an email: “It’s a very beautiful sentence and a beautiful poem, which I fall in love with more and more every time I read it. It will add a lot to the Vimy flute.”

Joe Belanger, jbelanger@postmedia.com

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