World Poetry Day

March 21… Monday!  and I’m remembering all our past adventures!

Posting this poem, because it’s vigorously snowing…
See Dennis Siren’s videopoem using part of this text:

Crossing the Light

Our near neighbours, the dead, shimmer beyond the fence line.
Suspended in air, why do they care for our silly antics?
Shouldn’t they be headed toward the light? Are they caught

by our yearning, pulled on the taut line of longing that holds
us to them? Memory, nothing but memories project out, project
beyond those viscous realms we can barely fathom.

Ancestors surround us, bemused. The space between us
looms like nothing, invisible fullness of spirit. Nothing
looms. Just about perfect. Almost right. Taken for granted.

Symmetries of either sphere don’t merge nor mesh.
The life to come is already here when time dissipates.
Mysteries of multiplicity displaced again shift shape.

The abstract dead regard our fears. They watch our coming
and goings-on. With a t/rope they could steer us along ways
less problematic. But then the word isn’t heard without an ear

and memory of mouth to utter. Utter confusion. Utter awe.

Shock sneaks a gap between event and reaction.
Animation suspended. Adrenaline overload. A zone
slowed down to zero and beyond. Cross at the corner

with the light or be accosted by cross border guards.

In and out of time, visitors file by, see-through poem in hand.
Wait for them. Send for them. You might wait a while.
Messages to the missing are seldom reported lost.

The dead collect, fan out with last
leaves’ fall. Not content to lie
mouldering in snow-softened grave

they hover mid air, mid-dimension, mid
dream. Their visiting hours limited to
the wee hours when all is possible

though nothing can be clearly seen.

They speak when spoken to just like
the good children they were raised
to be, but sound won’t carry across

the divide. Their mouths open and
close. Open and close. Great gulfs
of uninterrupted, uninterpreted anguish.

Nobody can lip read over here. Words
land on the sea, rest a second on that flat
flaccid surface and almost dissolve.

Snow falls, flake by flake. The dead descend
in tiny white shrouds, as in that last scene
from Joyce’s short story, John Huston’s film.

They linger alive for another moment of
morning and melt. Left mourning, I scry
between between words and worlds.

Reeled in by whatever realm entices.

Pale sun on snow
pulls me from the poem
to the window, lights

a shaft of reeling
possibility. Ice

crystals split to rainbow
in the glint and dull again
at instant cloud cover.

Indoor plants lean toward
the west, yearn for more.
Or. Less. Then. When.

The thermometer hovers at zero,
that zone where elements merge
confused, uncertain, in-between.

Tears course down the pane.

Beyond outer reaches of thought,
the land is luminous

Penn Kemp

The Parliamentary Poet Laureate Poem of the Week

http://everydaychod.com/poems/CrossingTheLight.shtml

1990.022.002

March 12- August 21, 2016. Jim Kemp’s painting, “Three Figures with Tall Hats” is on exhibit in “Portals”. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. 101 Queen St N, Kitchener ON N2H 6P7. Curator: Edwin Outwater, Music Director. Contact: Jennifer Bullock, Ass’t Curator.
http://kwag.ca/en/connections/resources/kwag_newsletter_jan_apr_2016_web.pdf, p. 6

http://www.around-around.com/die-versify/

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Valentine Poem

Heart to Art

Romance of the rose in part-
icular scent, texture, hue
carried and cared
for from you.

Roses reside inside, arriving
by scent from smooth petal
scarlet or white. Roses arrive
and rest
assured.

They rest not knowing
the future as I do and so the rest
is easy before

rust nips at the coiling edge of
hope, nips and tucks, curtails, till
petal droops, curls and drops
on stone.

Heart suspends suspense
and pauses, skips the beat
to bear what can’t be
born.

The heart does not grow over.
It grows through the lump in
the throat and out the mouth—
new birth of sorts, of change.

Heart knows its kind, knows its
own, knows as well kind
words. They too can cut
clear through skin, so many
layers meaning… what?

To stay kind
of alive in metaphor— beating
beating heart, the rhythm of
survival, thriving.

Your Hermes to my Hestia,
fire-side.

for Gavin, Beloved

GavPennfacingBrenda2014

Celebrating Brighid

Celebrating Imbolc in Brighid‘s three day festival at the end of January!
This year, it’s a time of quiet incubation, retreat, reflection.
But here’s my interview of celebrations past at The Circle:
http://news.chrwradio.com/2011/02/gathering-voices-mary-condren.html

and an invitation for Jan. 31, 7 pm :https://www.facebook.com/events/549510778558508/ “An Inclusive, Participatory & Accessible Ritual of Transformation & Celebration of Brighid in the Time of Imbolc. Free Will Offering. Fragrance Free Event. Everyone Welcome.” Unitarian Fellowship of London 557 Clarke Road, London, Ontario N5V 2E1

Brighid_in_Red_Cloak_by_James_Kemp

Painting by my father, James Kemp

Brighid, the ancient Celtic goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft… and transformation:

JimkempMoth1967

Moth by Jim Kemp

 

From http://www.danfurst.com/prelude—january-2016.html  Jan. 23, Saturday:

First day of the Goddess month of Bridhe, sacred to the Celtic and Britannic Goddess variously called Brigit, Bridhe, Brigantia and later, St. Bridget. As shown here, she is also called the Triple Brighids, and is one of the most widely-revered manifestations of the Triple Goddess. She is the protector of the eternal creative flame that maintains the vitality of the natural world, and is the patron of warriors and of all practitioners of feminine arts and crafts, most notably the occult disciplines of divination, witchcraft, herb and star lore, and prophecy. She is also represented by the spirals that appear constantly in Celtic art. Her totemic animals are the ram and the ox, her sacred plant the blackberry.

Altar Ego, a poem for “What is Now?

Altar Ego

“Altar Ego”, from composer Bill Gilliam’s DVD, Memory Vision (2008). Images by Arnold Wytenburg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLHrRn98w4w

Delighted to perform this piece with Bill Gilliam on Sat. May 9 at 345 Gallery, Toronto. https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/what-is-now-saturday-may-9-8-pm-gallery-345-toronto/

JimkempMoth1967

Altar Ego

Something has happened to

the I on this passage. I is

no longer a point of view,

stuck to this emotion or that,

the site of accumulated

experience. I has shed

the necessity of self defence.

I is a floating centre of perception.

I has widened to include

you and you and you be-

cause no barrier intrudes

between us.

I has become compound,

many-faceted. Complexity

leaps to a larger simpler

system. I is surprised

the words continue even

here. I is resting in

a continuum Am.

The diphthong of pain

Aeiii ground down

to seed syllable AUM.

Have you noticed that if you stay

with an image long enough

the fear you felt dissolves

into a live love you can embrace?

Penn Kemp

5849_247140045251_426613_n

Painting by Jim Kemp
Photo by Gavin Stairs

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.

Creative Aging for Boomers

Demographically, baby boomers have already lived much longer than most of our great-grandparents. Thanks to modern medicine, we have survived childbirth and childhood diseases that would have killed off many of us in earlier eras. Now, suddenly, baby boomers are facing en masse a new longevity that few survivors previously attained. 

Since those born after World War II are now in their sixties; many are reclaiming The 60’s as their own, in some resonant echo with the 60’s in which they came of age. The sixties are the new forties, I hear. But I think of grandmothers, worn out and surrendered to old age at forty. My mother at seventy thought of herself as thirty-five, despite longstanding aches and pains. Nearly seventy, I think of myself as seventy, with few aches and pains, at present. (Thanks, Aquafit!) 

In approaching my eighth decade, I contemplate the years ahead and behind. So far, so good. To surrender ambition, competitiveness, greed: how freeing. I have spent the allotted lifetime of three score and ten, accumulating, accomplishing, gathering. And now the work is in letting go, shedding, prepared at any point to surrender IT ALL. 

How do we learn letting go, surrendering the unnecessary, the outmoded, that which is not useful? How do we live completely in the moment, so that we no longer live in dread of our spouse’s illness, our own? How do we age creatively? How do we grow up without the wisdom of older guides? How do we mature into elderhood, with so few signposts to guide us? 

Neoteny, the expanded time for growing up that our culture allows, is a word that I have lately been examining. “Neoteny is the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles.” Croning may begin at fifty these days. What new possibilities begin at seventy, at eighty and on? We know all too well what diminishes, and what ends. 

How are we to grow into creative aging, with so few pointers? Since we’ve thrown away or lost ancient traditions that might have helped, we need to draw our own maps, our own definitions of maturity. What is an elder? Can we define the term, or do we need to live the question into our own answers, as Rilke suggests in Letters to a Young Poet: 

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” 

Sherry Ruth Anderson’s Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace is a remarkable exploration of this new territory of personal growth. Anderson’s book is both her own journey into elderhood and a guidebook that brings the reader along as a friend whom she invites into her garden. Having written such formative books as The Feminine Face of God and The Cultural Creatives, Anderson is well qualified to articulate the first steps toward elderhood. She is adept at tracing the social implications of her own investigation as it reflects cultural changes. Her personal is indeed political. 

Anderson’s own questions, ponderings and fears remain, but now she begins to live the possibilities of elderhood. 

P. 83: “Almost always, when I feel my fear open up like this, something unexpected happens… my familiar sense of self has shifted into a deep calm and stability. I feel sober and mature, steady as a mountain and at the same time quite spacious and relaxed. The sensibility is of one ancient and wise. 

All of this is quite paradoxical. I feel empty… containing all possibilities— so unformed I’m no longer caught in my yesterdays; so free I’m miles of sky with no clouds. 

Will I ever get over how experience changes when I don’t run away from it? Here my fears about getting old and losing my mind have opened to a new sense of maturity… that ancient calm wisdom… the perspective of an elder, I wonder?” 

In her inquiry, Anderson quotes some renowned elders. Mary Daly in her seminal Gyn/ecology writes: “‘We knit, knot, interlace, entwine, whirl and twirl…’ And what women found, she said, was a place to develop their integrity and ways to break the spell of the culture’s clocks.” As theologian Nelle Morton mused, “we were hearing ourselves into speech.” 

What can we learn from the process of creative aging? What wisdom can we claim? Anderson is never content to keep her own findings to herself. She has developed elder circles across the continent. In group dyads, she poses such questions as “Tell me a way you deny your experience of diminishment.” “What’s it like to feel that denial now?” “What are the gifts reserved for age?” She listens to the responses and invites us into a deeper hearing of one another. 

Anderson presents “a new perspective on aging, inviting the reader to engage the aging process through the art of inner inquiry. This work guides beyond our culture’s mind traps through stories where elders face into the lies, the losses and endings, the tender and bittersweet and ferocious truths of growing old.” 
May we too long continue to explore on all levels, inner and outer. 

May our histories be recalled. May we all remember 

the right role of elders: to listen, to be heard, to be held 

in respect. To hold on. To let go. To be held. 

http://www.art-in-society.de/AS14/PK/creative-aging.html

For further exploration, see Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace by Sherry Ruth Anderson. Changemakers Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-78099-963-0, www.sherryruthandersoncom and www.changemakers-books.com
See also Jean Shinoda Bolen’s www.millionthcircle.org/JSB/mc.html. Highly recommended is activist Judy Rebick’s transformative book, Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political, www.transformingpower.ca/en/about-book
– Penn Kemp 

writer-in-residence for Creative Aging Festival, London 

NewYearTimeGavPennfacingBrenda2014snogging2014

Love where the Nights Are Twice As Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets

My poem “Dear Mentor/Tormentor” is published in Love where the Nights Are Twice As Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets, http://gooselane.com/books.php?ean=9780864923844, from Goose Lane Editions.

The audio for this poem is up on http://wherethenights.tumblr.com/:
http://wherethenights.tumblr.com/post/109303073146/penn-kemp-1975-age-31-from-where-the-nights-are.

Poem: Men/Tor/Men/Tor

Dear Mentor/Tormentor

This One’s for you

O

Men
Tore

Tore
Men
Tore:

Men tore
My art

Not my heart,

Pull ease,
Pull lease.

I imp
Lore

You too

Cease and

Desist

De siring
To Con

Core

Mon coeur.

It’s not
For rent

For good
Nest Ache.

Till next we
Meet, we part,

Yr Penn pal.

Penn Kemp

JimkempMoth1967

snogging2014

Penn and Gavin now…:)