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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Here’s to Spring, and the Spring Tour!

If you are in BC, I hope you can come and be with dear friends and me!

At each event, I’ll read my poem, ‘The Stand of Oak” in honor of the Vimy centenary,
http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/the-stand-of-oak/.
I will be reading from Quattro Books’ BARBARIC CULTUAL PRACTICE (http://quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/) at events sponsored by The League of Canadian Poets and pieces from Sound Opera and my new play (https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/) at events sponsored by the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada.

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 7-9 pm. “After Cézanne”: Ekphrastic reading: Fort Langley Art Gallery with Susan McCaslin. Contact: Edith Krause. http://www.fortgallery.ca/first-thursday-arts-evenings. http://www.langleytimes.com/entertainment/416981724.html. Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Poster Fort Callery April 17

Sunday, April 9, 2-4 pm, 2017. Poetry New West, Heritage Grill Backstage Room, 447 Columbia Avenue, New Westminster BC. Contact: Alan Hill, afjhill@hotmail.com, @poetrynewwest. Reading “A Stand of Oak”, http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/the-stand-of-oak/. Sponsored by League of Canadian Poets. https://www.facebook.com/events/1755788391312780/

Vimy flute 2017

Penn April 9 2017

@poetrynewwest Photo: Creighton Studios

Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 2:00 4:00 pm. “An Afternoon of Performance and Paper Works”, with Terry Ann Carter and Penn Kemp. Free. Oak Bay Library, Greater Victoria Public Library, 1442 Monterey Ave. Victoria, BC V8S 4W1. Contact: terryanncarter3@gmail.com or Carl Cavanagh, Public Service Librarian, 250-382-7241 ext. 381ccavanagh@gvpl.ca. Writers Readers & Storytellers. For Adults. Ontario-based poet and playwright Penn Kemp will kick off this program with a performance of her play sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada, followed by a paper craft led by artist Terry Ann Carter. Fold paper into a concertina-style, accordion book, using hand-written letters, words and text to decorate the interior pages. Use water colour pencil crayons to add embellishments to your keepsake book. Register at gvpl.ca or email Joy, jhuebert@gvpl.ca. Call 250-940-GVPL (4875) for more information.

Poem On Light Terry Ann CarterSaturday, April 15, 3pm: Reading with Mona Fertig. Salt Spring Island Public Library, 129 McPhillips, Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2T6. Contact: Karen Hudson, Chief Librarian. 250-537-4666, ext. 223, khudson@saltspringlibrary.com. http://saltspring.bc.libraries.coop/. http://saltspring.bc.libraries.coop/event/mona-fertig-and-penn-kemp/?instance_id=96840. Sponsored by League of Canadian Poets.  https://www.facebook.com/events/231320154008905/

SSI Poster 2016 MonaApril 16, 11:30-1:30pm. Reading with Sharon Thesen, Poetic Justice, Boston Pizza, 1045 Columbia St, New Westminster BC V3M 1C4. “two writers who have not been carving but excavating literary history in Canada. Their reputations have already made it to the top-most bookshelf. It’s likely this will be a poetry reading you’ll remember for a while.” Contact: James Felton, james@PoeticJusticeNewWest.org, 604-767-6908. Sponsored by League of Canadian Poets. http://poeticjusticenewwest.org/uncategorized/april-poetry-reading/.

APRIL 2017 Kemp Thesen

James Felton writes;
A Reunion of Sorts

Back in the 70s and early 80s, Vancouver boasted a vibrant poetry scene and next month’s featured poets were no small part of the ‘happening’. Good friends Penn Kemp and Sharon Thesen have sustained a friendship and their prolific writing paths ever since.

Though both now live elsewhere, Poetic Justice is honoured to bring these two exceptional writers back together for our special Easter Sunday reading.  Read more about our fabulous April featured poets on our website.

Happy spring, whenever it arrives! Bring on the Magnolias. Bring on the Cherry Blossoms!

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Wild Crafting Poems for SPRING!

 To celebrate SPRING, Toronto jazz pianist Bill Gilliam and I are performing my poems
from “Wild Crafting” and “Trance Dance Form: a Sound Opera”.

Come celebrate with us!

Tall Poppies 481948_10151091650089402_1953963330_nThese poems I’ll be performing with Bill Gilliam​ at East Village Coffeehouse​ this Saturday, 7-9! https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/paean-to-spring-light-eats-light-sounds-april-25/

Wild Crafting

Kore, Ostara, Flora, sing slight intimacy
of air, flights imagination will lilt with.

Goldfinches float above the daffodils,
hang upside-down on the stalk of old
sunflower to catch last fall’s last seed.

*

A flash of cardinal lilts down
to settle in a cloud of Creeping
Charlie, Gill-over-the-Ground
and sky-blue Forget-Me-Knot.

*

My daily bouquet of dandelion
satisfies the neighbour’s need

for desert of green grass and mine
for wild.

The yellow vibrant heads last
just a day, and then plunge sodden
into compost, to rot and feed more

flowers, not to go to seed and
propagate as they are raised to do.

Daily, the flowers bloom closer
and closer to the ground, as if
to speed the cycle, to seed before

the lawn mower lops off their
vibrant unmistakeable heads.

In thwarting their will to reproduce,
I celebrate their evanescent charm
and serve their leaves for lunch.

Stirring Not Stirring

Honey drips from my nose, coats
my hair in blond stiff strands.

I am standing very still calling
bees by scent.  Pheromones draw

them to collect on me, hiving off
to a giant new temporary queen,

spun down from my chin in a grand
pharaoh’s beard.  My eyes, my ears

are bee-shut, open only to their buzz.

*

What I don’t know is that I’m here
in front of a bear’s cave on the first
warm day of summer, attending

emergence, as the swarm births
from entrails of bull and bear.

Bee goddess, bear goddess, mid-
wife, be with us mid-life and beyond.

Homing to the Given

I am moving into old time
Fire embraces my shadow,
absorbs darkness into heat.

Friends linger, huddle under
our circular warmth.  10,000
years melt away in the current

climate shift.  There goes snow.
Too late for comfort, too late to
reverse trends toward entropy.

Decades, centuries speed past
future possibles into the past as
currencies of passable presents.

How to turn this tendency around.
Rapidly, rapidly.  Restraint is not
enough.  Constraint does not serve.

That’s not the story.  I’m drifting.
The ceremony commenced while
attention was off in is own helium.

I am standing before the entrance
of deep cave, a cave I recognize
only by the dark its shadow casts.

Fire gleams.  Fire climbs the walls.
Shapes dance into consistent form.
The sense of bear emerges into three

dimensions.  Someone from behind
must be holding up the bearskin for
Orsel, Artemis, Bear Woman, shape

shifter.  There is no one there but
this bear shape is now my contour.
Bear shape becomes me.  Becomes

my own, new comfort large enough
to roam back, large enough to call home.

Recurring Dream Theme

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
into night creatures’ world, conjuring
interlaced smells of skunk, mouse, bat

disturbing our neighbour hound’s nose.
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.
Daylight cicada notions begin threading a

brightening air.  Dragonflies wing-web
the pond.  Inside I still dream of prowling
tigress, White Goddess stalking the dark.

PK

A first taste of London’s Creative Aging Festival!  http://creativeage.ca/events/2015-creative-age-festival-london/

See https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/performance-april-25-with-penn-kemp-and-bill-gilliam-in-london-on/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1431976320430583/

https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/paean-to-spring-light-eats-light-sounds-april-25/

The“Wild Crafting” poems were first published in http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/index.php/2008-issues/8-autumn-2008/item/638-wild-crafting.

My reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The last reading in London ON for National Poetry Month 2015!

Painting by Jim Kemp.

Paean to Spring! Light Eats! Light Sounds! on April 25

Toronto jazz musician Bill Gilliam and I will be performing poems for SPRING from my “Wild Crafting” and “Trance Dance Form: a Sound Opera”.

April 25, 7-9 p.m. East Village Coffee House

754 Dundas at English, London ON. 226-271-6141.

$5.00 donation at the door. Delicious refreshments.

Get an early taste of the Creative Age Festival London with a National Poetry Month performance by Penn Kemp and Bill Gilliam with Light Eats! Light Sounds!

Bill Gilliam is a Toronto based composer/pianist who improvises new music compositions blending influences of contemporary harmony and jazz idioms into his unique style of playing. His recordings include many with Penn.

Bill performs with Toronto Improviser’s Orchestra www.bill-gilliam.com

I’m Creative Age Festival London’s writer-in-residence and the League of Canadian Poet’s 2015 spoken word artist, http://www.poets.ca. This reading is sponsored by the League and the Canada Council for the Arts.

https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/performance-april-25-with-penn-kemp-and-bill-gilliam-in-london-on/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1431976320430583/

.

from TRANCE DANCE FORM

…follow a lady

into echo of eloquence

a shine on the laurel bush

she hides to hear

her own

& other

voices

she seeks the small but authentic

movement

from form thru form

she hedges

into earth

rooting taking hold of place

lapsing to silence

that her knowledge might

hold

against the power of

persuasion

taproots

she has tapped

no running away – this to

maintain

*

when she looks she peers

pushing back the thicket

long white hand

long white strand

out of the web

she weaves by day

frenetic &

untangles

on the clearing loom of words

stories rustle

hover at the corner of

presences

catch

a thing

phosphorescent

at water’s edge

eddies

a central flow

form is apparent

in the moving   out

& down   thru fact

black teeming muck

*

(   wing

presences rustle

their story

a torrent

of sound streams round this

ring we intuit, dancing

into its power

it continues/

telling the steps

to continue its falling/

into

place

ongoing

over forty years

For Daphne Marlatt, adapted from Trance Form

by Penn Kemp

A poem may be the most natural form for a poet writing about another poet…what better way to write an appreciation of one of my favourite Canadian poets? This piece was published in an earlier version in my book, Trance Form, Soft Press, in 1976, reprinted by Pendas Productions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotos: Gavin Stairs???????????????????????????????

Performance April 25 with Penn Kemp and Bill Gilliam in London ON

Save April 25 for another ear-opening evening…Welcome to our new sound adventure!

To celebrate SPRING, we are performing “Wild Crafting” and “Trance Dance Form: a Sound Opera”!

Get an early taste of the Creative Age Festival London with a National Poetry Month performance

by Penn Kemp and Bill Gilliam in

Light Eats! Light Sounds!

April 25, 7-9 p.m. East Village Coffee House

754 Dundas at English, London. 226-271-6141

Delicious refreshments

$5.00 donation at the door. Books and CDs will be available.

Bill Gilliam is a Toronto based composer/pianist who improvises new music compositions blending influences of contemporary harmony and jazz idioms into his unique style of playing. Bill performs with Toronto Improviser’s Orchestra. His recordings include many performed with Penn.  http://www.bill-gilliam.com.

Penn Kemp is Creative Age Festival London’s Writer-in-Residence and the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word artist of the year. http://www.pennkemp.wordpress.com. See also her Creative Age lineup of reading and workshops this spring at Landon Library. http://www.mytown.ca/pennkemp

See also http://www.eventbrite.com/e/light-eats-with-penn-kemp-and-bill-gilliam-tickets-16517282637

and

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-lies-ahead-creative-age-readings-writing-workshops-with-penn-kemp-tickets-16177439156

“Penn, your passionate poetry was an inspiration to me – thank you so much! And thanks to Bill for his extraordinary piano playing!” Marion Johnson

“It was completely clear to me that the performers have a wonderful musical relationship because they listen so well to one another and allow for each artist to play in the spotlight and showcase their talents.  This is all done in a very subtle fashion, seamlessly weaving voices, keyboard sampled textures and percussive accents.  The effect is transporting, meditative and our audiences were completely engaged by the intimacy of their performance.
Be prepared to go on a journey into textured sound scapes, playful sound poetry and texts.  You won’t be disappointed!!” Gordon Way, Assistant Artistic Director, Distillery Jazz Festival

PennSmileMykonos2015Bill_Gilliam_HeadShot_Colour

DrakeHotelwithBillGilliam_20070206_1Dream Sequinsfinal.

Penn @ Mykonos, London Open Mic

Bill and Penn @ The Drake Hotel, Toronto

“Dream Sequins: a Sound Opera” @ The Aeolian, London ON

Penn’s reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets.

Penn Kemp’s Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!

Penn Kemp’s Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!.

Celebrating FOOD in National Poetry Month: HYMN TO HORMONE

HYMN TO HORMONE

I eat nut chocolate instead of carrots. I drink
caffeine straight from the bean. I don’t care
if my senses rot, cavities root in my mouth,
gnaw at my brain. I nod a refrain to be
wicked, to be wild at the expense of ordinary

sanity. The expanse of external wisdom
mounts as paper wrappers, candy wrappers,
oh sweet sweet the caress of chocolate.

While I don’t care if the sun turns
my uncoloured skin ultra-violet, the long
and the short of it is the spectrum
unannounced of the daily. In living we
are realized, we are being flushed out

of hiding our response by this reddening
cheek, the drenching of the brow in sudden
cartoon frenzies of sweat.The character is
worried. She is fretting. She is sunk.

Penn Kemp

This poem was first published in http://hammeredoutlitzine.blogspot.ca/2007/10/penn-kemp.html.

Penneats2007-11-01

Photo: Gavin Stairs