Solution: a poem

This poem is up on the front page of the current https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/.

What a fabulous image to accompany the poem!

frogs

 

Solution

We two skalds sit together side by
each, looking out over centuries.

We watch the stirred pot settle till
murky situations sweetly clarify of

their own accord, attuned to an old
rhythm whose resonance is our song.

We watch the seasons’ rush, leaves
deciding on whether it’s spring or

fall. The creek is slowly turning into
pond, so water plants blithely tell.

And the frogs declare they’re home.
They’re not going anywhere else

now that our water levels equal
spirit level. Toads will return in

time to lay a million unimpeded
eggs, a myriad tadpoles and more

toads a fingernail long to bide a
while as lares in their garden lair

awaiting the Goddess.

Penn Kemp

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Books Read & Recommended, 2018

A very eclectic collection, read by the fire, on planes, in the garden. And/or heard, in bed…

Kate Atkinson, Transcription

Belinda Bauer, Snap

Carleigh Baker, Bad endings: stories *

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

Sharon Bala, The Boat People*

Deirdre Baker, Becca fair and foul*

John Banville, Mrs. Osmond*

Linwood Barclay, A Noise Downstairs

Julian Barnes, The lemon table: stories

Billy-Ray Belcourt, This wound is a world: poems

Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists

Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum America: a philosophy of the forest; photographs by Christian H. Kroeger; foreword by Edward O. Wilson

Jill Bialosky, Poetry will save your life: a memoir*

Holly Black, Doll bones; with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler *

Leonard Cohen, The Flame

Christopher Paul Curtis, The journey of little Charlie

E.D. Blodgett, Transfiguration* 
E.D. Blodgett, Apostrophes: woman at a piano* 

George Bowering, No one (Not recommended~!)

Alan Bradley, The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place*

Dionne Brand, Tessa McWatt, Rabindranath Maharaj, editors / Luminous ink: writers on writing in Canada

Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone*

Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant intelligence and the imaginal

Steve Burrows, A tiding of magpies

Jessie Burton, The miniaturist: a novel *

Rhonda Byrne, The Power*

Heather Cadsby, Standing in the flock of connections

Anne Carson, Red Doc

Kate Cayley, How you were born: stories*

David Chariandy, Brother*

Svetlana Chmakova, Brave*

Noam Chomsky ; created and edited by Peter Hutchinson, Kelly Nyks & Jared P. Scott. Requiem for the American dream: the 10 principles of concentration of wealth & power /

Noam Chomsky; interviews with David Barsamian, Global discontents

Kim Clark and Dawn Marie Kresan, Canadian Ginger: an anthology of poetry & prose*

Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: an American tragedy*

Marina Cohen, The doll’s eye; illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Billy Collins, The rain in Portugal: poems

Cressida Cowell, The Wizards of Once*

Cressida Cowell, How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury. How to Train Your Dragon Series, Book 12. Read by David Tennant *

Lorna Crozier, What the soul doesn’t want: poems*

Tom Cull, Bad animals*

Rachel Cusk, Outline*

Rachel Cusk, Transit *

Rachel Cusk, Kudos*

Lauren B. Davis, The Grimoire of Kensington Market *

Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Hysteria *

Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

Mai Der Vang, Afterland: poems *

David Demchuk, The Bone Mother

Patrick deWitt, French Exit    cd

Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves*

Jeramy Dodds, Drakkar Noir

Brian Doyle, editor. A sense of wonder: the world’s best writers on the sacred, the profane, and the ordinary

Norman Dubie, The quotations of bone

Esi Edugyan, Washington Black: A Novel

Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach*

Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes *

Dave Eggers, Heroes of the frontier: a novel*

Dave Eggers, The monk of Mokha. Mokhtar Alkhanshali *

Cecilia Ekbäck, The midnight sun

Cecilia Ekbäck, Wolf Winter

Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God *

Susan Faludi, In the darkroom*

  1. A. C. Farrant, The days: forecasts, warnings, advice *

Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Aminatta FornaHappiness*
Aminatta Forna,The hired man*

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*

Patrick Friesen, Songen*

Cornelia Funke, Ruffleclaw; illustrated by the author; translated by Oliver Latsch *

Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants; illustrated by Brett Helquist*

Jorie Graham, Fast*

Shari Green, Macy McMillan and the rainbow goddess *

Camilla Grudova, The Doll’s Alphabet

Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry*

Richard Harrison, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood *

Paula Hawkins, Into the water

Elizabeth Hay, All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir

Emma Healey, Stereoblind: poems  *

Emma Healey, Whistle in the dark*

Chris Hedges, Unspeakable: Chris Hedges on the most forbidden topics in America / with David Talbot

Sheila Heti, Motherhood *

Brenda Hillman, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire*

Alice Hoffman, Survival Lessons

Alice Hoffman, The rules of magic*

Alice Hoffman, Here on Earth*

Robert Hogg, There is No Falling

Nancy Holmes, Valancy and the new world *

Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine*

Cornelia Hoogland, Trailer park elegy*

Emma Hooper, Our Homesick Songs*

Susan Howe, Debths

David Huebert, Peninsula Sinking *

Helen Humphreys, The ghost orchard: the hidden history of the apple in North America*

Helen Humphreys, Machine Without Horses

Kazuo Ishiguro, My twentieth century evening and other small breakthroughs: the Nobel lecture*

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci*

Annie Jacobson, Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis*

Maureen Jennings, Let darkness bury the dead: a Murdoch mystery *

Amanda Jernigan, Years, months, and days: Poems *

Jim Johnstone, editor. The next wave: an anthology of 21st century Canadian poetry

Kij Johnson, The Fox Woman *

The Journey prize stories: the best of Canada’s new writers

Han Kang, Human acts: a novel; translated from the Korean and introduced by Deborah Smith*

Thomas King, Cold Skies*

Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered

Larissa Lai, When Fox Is a Thousand *

Danielle LaPorte, White Hot Truth*

  1. I. Larry, High risk*, Undercover*

Ursula K Le Guin, Words are my matter: writings about life and books, 2000-2016 with a journal of a writer’s week

John Le Carré, A delicate truth

League of Canadian Poets, Measures of astonishment: poets on poetry / presented by the League

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice

David Lehman, Best American Poetry 2016

Donna Leon, Drawing conclusions: a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery

Donna Leon, The Temptation of Forgiveness

Carrianne Leung, That time I loved you: linked stories

Deborah Levy, Things I Don’t Want to Know

Jennifer LoveGrove, Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes *

Helen M. Luke, Old Age: Journey into Simplicity

Helen M. Luke; edited by Rob Baker. Kaleidoscope: the way of woman and other essays* 

Harriet Alida Lye, Honey Farm*

Kari Maaren, Weave a Circle Round*

Anne McDonald, Miss Confederation: The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles*

Gregory Maguire, Hiddensee: a tale of the once and future Nutcracker *

Terese Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir

Alice Major, Memory’s daughter

Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck*

Daphne Marlatt, The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968-2008. Edited by Susan Holbrook*

Monia Mazigh, Hope has two daughters *

Alexander McCall Smith, The House of Unexpected Sisters: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency *

Ami McKay, Half Spent Was the Night *

Steve McOrmond, Reckon*

W.S. Merwin, Sir Gawain and the green knight / a new verse translation*
W.S. Merwin, The river sound: poems

Anne Michaels, All We Saw*

Madeline Miller, Circe**

Valerie Mills-Milde, The Land’s Long Reach*

Thomas Moore, Ageless soul*

Naomi Novik, Uprooted*

John O’Donohue, Conamara blues: poems *

Michael Ondaatje, Warlight*

Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox*

Louise Penny, Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Richard Powers, The Overstory*

Meredith Quartermain, U girl: a novel *

Sina Queyras, My Ariel*

Matt Rader, Desecrations*

Judy Rebick, Heroes In My Head *

Elizabeth Renzetti, Shrewed*

Noah Richler, The candidate: fear and loathing on the campaign trail*

Eden Robinson, Trickster Drift*

Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens*

Damian Rogers, Dear leader *

Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne McKechnie, Paulette M. Rothbauer, editors. Reading Still Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries, and Community *

Salman Rushdie, The golden house: A Novel *

Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove *

Linda Rutenberg, The Garden at Night. Introduction by Christopher Dewdney*

Deborah Samuel, The extraordinary beauty of birds: designs, patterns and details

Richard Sanger, Dark woods. Biblioasis*

Sarah Selecky, Radiant Shimmering Light*

Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette*

Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire*

Alexie Sherman, Thunder Boy Jr.*

Merilyn Simonds, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels and the Lasting Impression of Books*

Linda Spalding, The Reckoning*

Barbara Shapiro, The Muralist

Sjon, From the Mouth of the Whale*

Ali Smith, Autumn*

Ali Smith, Winter*

Michael V. Smith, Bad ideas

Murdoch Neil Smith, Boo: a novel

Zadie Smith, Feel Free

Mark Strand, Eavan Boland, editors, The making of a poem: a Norton anthology of poetic forms

J.R. (Tim) Struthers, ed. Clark Blaise: the Interviews

Graham Swift, Tomorrow

Gillian Sze, Panicle

Wisława Szymborska, Map: collected and last poems; edited by Clare Cavanagh

Amy Tan, Where the past begins: a writer’s memoir*

Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch*

Kim Thúy, Vi ; translated from the French by Sheila Fischman

Miriam Toews, Women Talking

Alexandre Trudeau, Barbarian Lost: Travels in the New China*

John Vaillliant, The Jaguar’s Children*

Alberto Villoldo, One Spirit Medicine: Ancient Ways to Ultimate Wellness*

Alberto Villoldo and David Perlmutter, Power up your brain: the neuroscience of enlightenment

Ocean Vuong, Night sky with exit wounds*

Clemantine Wamariya, The Girl Who Smiled Beads. (Julia Zave)

Elizabeth Waterston, Magic island: the fictions of L.M. Montgomery*

Joshua Whitehead, Jonny Appleseed: a novel

Anthony Williams, Medical Medium*

Deborah Willis, The dark and other love stories*

Oprah Winfrey, The wisdom of sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations. Oprah Winfrey*

Peter Wohlleben, The Inner Life of Animals*

Peter Wohlleben; translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. The weather detective: rediscovering nature’s secret signs

Meg Wolitzer, The Female Persuasion*

Lauren Wolk, Wolf Hollow*

Erin Wunker, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

London Free Press WordsFest 2018_jpg_large

,,, and still reading…

 

Giving Voice To Age

Double Vision, i

Age is the phase for integration as we enter
the violet sphere, embracing shadows in
whatever form they appear, welcoming all.
We wear our lives on our faces, to be read.

We have stood in bright glittering sunshine
long enough. We have given to the world
what the world required. Now we inquire
what we ourselves need to feel complete.

We enter understanding, standing under all
we have done, all we are. We rest in the full
spectrum of fulfilment, scanning the span of
a moment’s totality. Time out of time expands

to include our whole life, with its possibilities
realized or still potential, yet to be enacted,
expended to the rest remaining to us, doubling
to manifest or stay outstanding as life allows.

Now is when to remember just who we entered
this world to become. To gather, to recollect, to
recall, to weave into a basket of plenty and pass
our basket of us as bequest on, nest for the next.

None of our history is lost. It lives in the present
as presence. We are the legacy we leave and
that which we’ve received, stretching back over
generations. We hold in our palms the prints

of past, present and unknown epochs to come.
What brings us to wisdom, this transmission
of all we are? Our grandchildren might hear
what our offspring may not yet have learned.

For our wisdom to ripen, we need shelter, a
place that respects us so we may continue
to live the love that is antidote to fear, free
of want. Where we can reflect upon, reflect

back gleams of insight gleaned from living
well, unhampered. May we listen to our body.
Despite the indignities our flesh is heir to, we
attend to aches in organs hitherto unknown

Double Vision, ii

Now we understand why old folks walk as
they do, not from choice, but because knees
don’t bend and ankles tend to give way. We
see our parents in the mirror and marvel at

the flight of time, knowing that inside we feel
thirty or forty max, on good days. We know
the limits our younger selves blithely ignored,
growing up, growing over the lump in our heart.

As we enter elderhood, may we burn up rather
than rust away, till we are entirely retread, ready
for whatever awaits. Retired, may we try again,
treating ourselves as well as we need be treated.

May our inner weather be sun-dappled no matter
what. May we recognize in the mirror the others
that we were, as we are. May we elders be seen
as lineage-holders, holding the mirror for the next

generation down the line and on. May we be heard.

Penn Kemp

“Giving Voice To Age”, the Winter issue of Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, P. 31. http://www.sage-ing.com/Sage-ing28.pdf

Photo: Colin Morton

Gavin and Penn. Photo by Colin Morton

Reminder of Spring

Here/There

This poem was published this week in https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/here-there/.  It was performed as part of LUMINOUS ENTRANCE: a Sound Opera by Penn Kemp at Aeolian Hall, London ON.

All the ducks in a row

 

Three Mother letters—
Fire, River, Water.

I find you in speaking
tree, pond eye
river ear

meadow’s hand
loop of swallow,
stream of thought

There you are
baby in her bath,
strands of hair floating
as if on the Thames

submerged but for her
smiling face, ahhhhhh
she murmurs

*

Hummingbird fast
as the letter Shin
on fire, on red
cardinal flower.

The bees that return
season upon season
the letter Shin on fire

The mud bank from
which turtle drops,
splash of circling carp

Duck with her brood
aligned behind her,
careful setting out across

the wide water.
strutting down the street
to the creek.

*

There you are, green
again after drab dearth,
long absence of light.

There you are in moments
between friends, among
many.

There you are in the mouth
of another, tenor’s laugh,
an operatic trill.

There you are in the ear
receiving wisdom, at last
ready to understand.

There you are in those eyes,
riverine, opening out, trans-
mitting from mirrored depth.

There you are in a rose,
first bloom or faded,
faintly scenting the air.

There you arise full-blown.

*

You are also inside, inner, with me.
Radiance seen, felt and heard

A whiff of this, aroma of that,
taste on the honeyed tongue.

There you are in the cardinal
feeding his mate. Garlic
scapes spring arabesques

in the air. Goats on hind legs
rear up acacia trunk, giraffe
stooping for special branch.

There you are in the sudden
confirmation of synchronicity
when the radio speaks the word

I am writing. Oracles, move
over. And keep talking, please,
humming through medium cool.

The song responds, corresponds
to mood.

Contemplate the missing, lost,
forgotten, ignored, left out.

Enough now. Let it be
enough. Now let us
praise

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp has been active in Canada’s literary scene since her first publication of poetry, Bearing Down, by Coach House (1972). As well as editing Canada’s first anthology of women’s writing, IS 14 (1973), she wrote the first play produced in Canada about abortion rights. She was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate and the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, 2015. Multimedia works are up on https://riverrevery.ca. Her 2018 poetry books are Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) and Fox Haunts(Aeolus). www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

A lovely book of poems from Aeolus House!

Here’s my review of Stanley Fefferman’s The Heart of All Music: Poems about Music and Musicians. Aeolus House, 2018. 52 pp. ISBN 978-1-987872-11-8. $20

Convergence is a word often used to describe the reshaping of our world by such forces as the Internet. This concept also applies to Stanley Fefferman’s latest collection, The Heart of All Music, which can be described, appropriately, as the convergence of a life-time of listening attentively to a wide range of musical genres.

It’s a treat when a poet takes a whole book to explore in depth a single subject. When the topic is music and the poet as knowledgeable as Stanley Fefferman, the result is a gift for all the senses. His work is varied in tone, mood and mode, given a perceptive ear and a gift for translating the complexities of musical experience into language. Fefferman employs a wide spectrum of forms, including prose poems that read like a possible transcription from his original review. The tone of the poems hovers between elegiac and celebratory, performative and prosaic, traditional and contemporary. This elegantly presented book is like a musical score in itself. The Heart of All Music sectioned in the four musical terms of a sonata: “Allegro, “Largo”, “Scherzo”, and the Finale, “Andante Cantabile”.

Fefferman’s preface describes the magic of listening to music. He declares “the feelings that came set off the language centres of the poet-in-me, and the music generated words.” At first I thought of searching YouTube to hear the pieces Fefferman describes. Then I realized that the poems themselves present a complicated translation that is this poet’s specific perception, “sharp as crackling bones/ that fall as feathers filling an entire hall”. The reader experiences Fefferman’s particular vision through his vivid imagery: “Debussy’s unique String Quartet unfolds a shimmer of antique silk/ embroidered with pizzicated rhythms of the new French enthusiasm”.

Metaphors translate the sometime psychedelic experience of a concert. The poet often describes one sense in terms of another, presenting the emotional range of a synaesthete. Indeed, Fefferman includes a poem to Alexander Scriabin, famous for his own synaesthetic correlations. Fefferman offers us fascinating imagery to describe specific works. His phrase, “crennellated patterns”, conjures an instant image of fortified battlements, an image immediately followed by “notes that roll/ like a silken standard in the wind”. We are thrust into a mediaeval scene to accompany Barrios’s “La Cathedral”.

Musicians play off each other; “the players spin solo threads”. Like the musicians Fefferman depicts, the instruments described in these poems have character, indeed personality. “The cello in the scherzo remains sardonic” after “jittery discourses that keen upward till they peter out /— a musical representation of life leaving the body.” Shostakovich’s final sonata is “the corvid utterance of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Nevermore’.” The cello continues “dialogues with itself/ among mutterings of ‘es muss sein’”—Beethoven’s motto in his last quartet. The phrase, “It must be”, figures prominently in  Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being as well, designating an acceptance of fate. A line of poetry also interprets another string quartet in a phrase from Eliot’s The Waste Land. One art is presented in terms of another, engaging both feeling and intellect.

Fefferman’s commentary is a “solo series of precision shifts between attitudes of stillness and repose [that] encode/ a lifetime of contemplation” in a veteran’s “deep acceptance of the world as it is.” Blues, jazz, traditional folk and classical works, Fefferman covers and comments on it all, from O’Carolan to David Bowie to John Hammond to Mozart and Claude Vivier. Fefferman is at his best presenting female singers like Lhasa De Sela in one of his most touching laments, as well as poems to composers cut off too soon by war. His beautiful last poem, dedicated to Dvorak’s Piano Trio in E minor, is a spiritual resolution for both Fefferman and his readers:

“the sound of peace itself
a melody so exquisitely played
the mind is overwhelmed with pleasure
and comes to rest in its own place
like the reflection of sky in lake.”

Fefferman’s epigraph announces that he associates the heart of music with the moment of happiness that he is offering in these poems. Indeed, The Heart of All Music is a paean to Music and Musicians. The cadenced rhythm of these poems will resonate long after the last note, the final phrase. To paraphrase Rumi, in this beautifully produced collection from Aeolus House, “We have fallen into the place where everything is music.”

//

Poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has been lauded as a trailblazer, “a poetic El Nino”, and a “one-woman literary industry”. She was  London’s inaugural Poet Laureate . Her 2018 books of poetry are Local Heroes (Insomniac), and Fox Haunts (Aeolus House). See http://www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

This review is now up on http://bywords.ca/november2018/review1.htm, thanks to Amanda Earl.

Fox Haunts reviewed

What caught your imagination when you were young?

For me it was Foxes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E58HtvVZQXs*

Signed copies of Fox Haunts are available for $20 plus shipping.
Contact pennkemp@gmail.com.

Well, this is fun! A cocktail, a fox tale…. I just saw this pairing: Fox Haunts, a cocktail… and a review! https://alllitup.ca/Blog/2018/Chappy-Hour-The-Quick-Red-Fox-Fox-Haunts
https://alllitup.ca/Blog/2018/Chappy-Hour-The-Quick-Red-Fox-Fox-Haunts#topofpostcontent

A new, comprehensive and thoughtful review of Fox Haunts by Jennifer Wenn is up on http://tuckmagazine.com/2019/01/11/fox-haunts-penn-kemp-review/

Fox Haunts by Penn Kemp is a fascinating investigation of both the real animal and the figure of literature and myth. Kemp’s wordplay, wit and humour are on full display (for example, the whimsical suggestions for keeping foxes out of the yard in How To Repel the Urban Fox), but there are serious streams concerning adaptation, the collision of our civilisation with nature, and what Kemp terms rewilding. This is a captivating, multi-layered work, a demonstration of Kemp’s own precepts: “…Poetry allows for profusion//of voices and multilinear narratives//puns…” (Prompt).

Fox Haunts is divided into four sections: Family Fox-lore, The Urban Fox, Little Literary Foxes, and Dream Frequency. Family Fox-lore consists of two prefatory poems (A Child’s Garden Fox; and Steal, Stole, Stun), family memories that introduce main themes in the work. This starts with a literal collision between human technology (here, a car) and the wild (in the shape of a fox) and proceeds through imagination and a very real fox victim in the form of a stole.

The Urban Fox, Section Two, is the longest one and in many ways the heart of the work. We meet the foxes adapting to and claiming space within our cities, at first just via subtle indications like a rustle in a bush (Ghost Scents), glowing eyes at night (Night Vision; Avoidance Tactic), a slight odour left behind (Natural Magic) or tracks (What Matters; The Beauty of Snowy Waste and Noble Silence; Synecdoche). Later we discover Fox raiding “our pantry, our cat-//food, or cat perhaps” (Be Wilder), urinating on compost bins (Foul Play), raiding a henhouse (Foul Play), keeping everyone awake with screams and shrieks (What the Fox Says), grabbing the family dog by the leg (Foxes I Have Known, Rabid), carrying off defenceless bichons frisés (Why Here, Why Now) or depositing unmatched footwear inside via the cat door (Your Lair Is My Layer, Apparently). We perceive the world through Fox’s heightened senses: hearing (On the Nature of Intelligence; Pointers; Strategies, Night Vision); night sight (On the Nature of Intelligence; Night Vision); seeing the earth’s magnetic field (Strategies). A special mention of At the Moment of Equinox, a lovely hymn to balance and to nature, Fox’s realm.

Little Literary Foxes, Section Three, investigates literature, with touchpoints including Kurosawa (Inari, Kami of Foxes), Ovid (Song of His Origins), the Bible (Samson Agonistes, On Condemnation and Canticles), Milton (Samson Agonistes), Aesop (Fox Fable; Verse, Vice, Virtue), Yeats (Celtic Twilight), The Little Prince (Les Petits Amis), Kim Philby (“The Fox That Came to Stay”), Stephen King & Stanley Kubrick (Eye Shine), Alice Munro (Fair Play on Fur in F Sharp) and more.

In Dream Frequency, Section Four, Kemp, as she has in other works, explores her dreams. Here she finds herself haunted by Fox’s many aspects; a riff on the book title. As Kemp notes in her Introduction “Fox Haunts begins with a play on words. Who’s haunting whom?” We discover Fox and Kemp engaged in a variety of pas de deux: “…You wrap yourself round//in an ourobos of sleep and dream…” (Elementals); “Fox leads me a merry chase as will-of-wisp//streaks across western sky painting random//wisps along cirrus cloud…” (Avoidance Tactic); “We are entangled in tango, not//knowing the steps, not knowing//what trust is, leaning backward.” (Fox Trot); “…I burrow after you into teeming dark” (The Light Breach); “…I stand before you, astonished,//mouth so agape you might well leap down//the little red lane straight into bloodstream.” (Offer).

Throughout the entire work Fox is a liminal figure: “Between discrete realms of possibility” (By her wits, you shall know her); neither dog nor cat (Doubles); inner and outer (Doubles; How to Haunt); literal and figurative (On Condemnation and Canticles); dream and waking (O Fabulist).

An all-important boundary is that between hunter and hunted. When the former, Fox most often victimizes poor Rabbit (How to Hunt; Strategies; Synecdoche; Synopsis, Lady into Fox). Other prey include voles and moles (Night Vision; Strategies); crows (Pulling a Fast One); fowl generally (Pointers; Foul Play); mice (Pointers; On Condemnation and Canticles) and the aforementioned bichons frisés (Why Here, Why Now). In a nice touch, Kemp dreams that Fox and Rabbit are pals (Fox Play).

But while Fox is hunting to feed her family, our civilization all too often turns Fox into the victim, for far less essential reasons: hit by a car (A Child’s Garden Fox; Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563 to the Present); killed for its fur (Steal, Stole, Stun; The Purchase; Fair Play on Fur in F Sharp); starving (“Helpless, Helpless, Helpless”); clubbed to death for raiding a henhouse in search of food (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563 to the Present); hunted for sport (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563 to the Present|); used as live torches (Song of His Origins; Samson Agonistes); pushed off a ledge five stories up (“The Fox That Came to Stay”).

Kemp’s prescription for restoring harmony is rewilding, adapting to and drawing from nature what we need, and perhaps have lost: “clarity and strength”, “surrender and acceptance”, “joy and creativity”, “initiation, inspiration”, “your broad view”, “your ground, your holy round” (At the Moment of Equinox). “Reclaim, rather,//and rewild, let’s agree.// //Yes, rewild us for we are//bewildered and beknighted.// //We are precariously tame and//dangerous.” (Be Wilder).

In the final poem, addressing Fox, Kemp expresses wishes and hopes we all could share: “On your own, you’ll do just fine as long//as we humans don’t interfere with your//livelihood, your livelong neighbourhood.// //May you be freed from old mythologies//that call you trickster, demon temptress,//ghost and fraudster. May you run free.”

Fox Haunts is a beautiful, thought-provoking, multi-level meditation, and a heartfelt plea for a reconfiguration of our spirits and a new relationship with the world around us.

Jennifer Wenn is a trans-identified writer from London, Ontario. In addition to her day job as a Systems Analyst, she has written From Adversity to Accomplishment, a family and social history; and published poetry in Tuck Magazine, Synaeresis, Wordsfestzine and the anthology Things That Matter.   She is also the proud parent of two adult children.

Image result for fox glyph

Two beautiful reviews Fox Haunts came in
one after the other
on little fox feet from the Okanagan.

How could I not share them with you?

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Fox Haunts. Poems by Penn Kemp. Aeolus House, 2018. 97 pages. $20.

Review by Bill Arnott

First time I saw a fox I was atop an open-air double decker, trundling along rugged coast, intermittently thrashed by leafy birch as though in a weaving Finnish sauna. I was compelled to shield my eyes – the same reaction as when something’s beyond comprehension, available only to the worthy. In fact it was present for everyone. Laid bare, unabashedly rich in beauty and lore. A slender, russet blonde animal, taller than I imagined. Regal. Same as when I met Penn Kemp. Somewhere a fellow trickster – Loki, Kokopelli perhaps, danced a gleeful jig, as I carried a newly signed Fox Haunts to my semi-detached lair.

Adaptation runs through this London Laureate’s new poems in darting twists, flight from imagined hunter’s horn. At times furtive, dreamily camouflaged, or bounding in plain sight, Kemp’s artistry enraptures. We join Penn in childhood, parents fused into fox memories with “A Child’s Garden Fox.”

“Sleepy, sleeping in my mother’s lap. Nestled. / When. A fox ran in front of the car. And / was transfixed by the headlights. Ran and / ran in front of the car but could not escape”

In red hued monochrome we glimpse dead fur and living banshees in “Steal, Stole, Stun.”

“The dried heads of black fox hung / from my grandmother’s stole as if / ready to strike. Dead flat button jet / eyes shut tight to their own secret”

And with fireside ease we move through seasons, geography and myth, playful “Glow” perching us parrot-like on the writer’s shoulder, experiencing evolving words while peering real-time into her thoughts.

“That narrow snout surfaces to / figure your next ploy, asking / curiously: ‘Who do you serve?’ // The essential question mocks / my reply. The whole, of course.”

Reading Kemp’s work I feel nestled in a sidecar affixed to the master’s motorbike, confident in her route, at times in conversation, storytelling, or akin to a lie-down on a therapist’s sofa. This book can leave one simultaneously inspired and intimidated, seeing genius expand exponentially with time.

Writing this I’m at Penn’s desk, at least the one she left for me to use in Vernon, BC. Beside me Fox Haunts lies curled and content, in its rightful place atop the rest. Through a broad bay window a few last leaves cling in vixen colours and from “Entertaining the Fox” the author’s words linger. “May you be translated. And remain / entirely your own.”

poetscorner.ca/team/

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Review by Fern G. Z. Carr

Penn Kemp’s Fox Haunts (Aeolus House, 2018) is an intriguing exploration of all that is vulpine – a quest to define the quintessential nature of the fox. In keeping with its elusive nature, her portrayal of this creature is fluid and dynamic.

The title, Fox Haunts, is an apt play on words.  This is not only a work of place but a work that is indeed haunting – whether by its mastery of surreal imagery such as the reverie of miniature firefly-like foxes or the cruel reality of rabies.

Poems are contrasting yet complementary: predation vs. elegance (“sharp white teeth” / “Vixen slips off her black gloves”) and science vs. folklore (“The earth’s magnetic field serves as a reference guide for our Fox” / “foxglove holds the power of opposites”).

After having examined the vicissitudes and psyche of the fox, Kemp ultimately concludes that a fox is but a fox.  Her final poem in this collection is essentially a benediction with a proviso that the species will be fine as long it can be freed from pejorative mythologies and human interference – a caveat reflecting the sensibilities of the enchanting poems in this book.

www.ferngzcarr.com

 

Stanley Fefferman‘s review is up on http://poets.ca/2018/08/10/review-fox-haunts-by-penn-kemp/ and http://opusonereview.com/?p=4786.

FOX HAUNTS is available from pennkemp@gmail.com for $20 plus shipping, signed.

*Video of my reading by Dennis Siren.

Upcoming Poetry Launches!

Happy to be launching 2018 collections, Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) and Fox Haunts (Aeolus House). I’ll also read from Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quattro Books)

https://www.amazon.com/Fox-Haunts-Penn-Kemp/dp/1987872142/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525695775&sr=1-5

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Saturday August 25, 5:00-6:00 pm. Reading from Fox Haunts for Synaeresis #3 launch, The Black Walnut’s back room, 134 Wortley at Askin St., London ON) http://harmoniapress.blogspot.com/2018/07/synaeresis-issue-4-call-for-submissions.html. Contact: andreasgripp@hotmail.com

Sunday, September 9, 2018, 4-6 pm. Launch of Fox Haunts, with Aeolus House poets: Ariane Blackman, Brian Cameron, Stanley Fefferman, Tom Hamilton, Penn Kemp and Colin Morton. Pressed (waffle house), 750 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa, ON K1R 6X5. (613) 680-9294. Contact: Allan, abriesmaster@outlook.com.**

Monday, Sept. 10, 7 pm. Launch, Local Heroes and Fox Haunts. Novel Idea, 156 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B1. Introduced by Elizabeth Greene. Contact: (613) 546-9799, egreene4@cogeco.ca. Bruce Kauffman’s radio show “finding a voice”—a showcase of spoken-word events  broadcast weekly, Friday 4pm-6pm EST on CFRC 101.9FM. http://75.103.74.42/wp/eventscalendar/

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7-9 pm. Launch of Fox Haunts, with Aeolus House poets: Ariane Blackman, Brian Cameron, Tom Hamilton, Penn Kemp and Sydney White. Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto. Contact: Allan, abriesmaster@outlook.com.*

Sunday, September 23, 2018, 1pm. Launch of Out of Line by Tanis MacDonald with Tom Cull. Reading from Local Heroes and Fox Haunts. Oxford Book Shop, 262 Piccadilly St, London, N6A 1S4. Contact: Hilary  519-438-8336, http://www.oxfordbookshop.com

October 1-31, 2018.  Kalamaka Press Writer-in-Residence, Caetani Cultural Centre, Vernon, BC.  Readings TBA. http://www.kalwriters.com/residency/residency.html, https://www.caetani.org/about/.

Sunday October 14th.  Reading with Daphne Marlatt. Co-op People’s Bookstore. 1391 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3X5. Contact: Rolf (604) 253-6442, coopbks@telus.net

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 8:00 pm. Launch and reading with Susan McCaslin. Spoken Ink Reading Series, Burnaby Arts Council, Deer Lake Gallery, 6584 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby, BC. Host Lara Varasi, lvaresi@shaw.ca (604)240-8903.*

Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Launch and reading with Sharon Thesen. Poets’ Corner, Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia, Vancouver BC. Sponsored by the Canada Council.
Contact: James Felton,  (604) 767-6908  www.massybooks.com/. jamesfelton52@gmail.com***

Thursday, October 18, 2018. Launch and reading with Damian Rogers at Milkcrate Records. Kelowna, BC. Contact: Matthew Rader, matthew.rader@ubc.ca.

Saturday, October 20, 2018. Nelson, BC.  Launch, Local Heroes and Fox Haunts.  TBA. Contact: Elizabeth Cunningham, elizabeth@waterside.ca

November 2-4, Museum London theatre, 421 Ridout St N, London, ON N6A 5H4. Time TBA. Mary McDonald and I are presenting new poems and augmented reality for riverrevery.ca as part of Poet Laureate Presents: River of Words.  Sponsored by the London Arts Council and the City of London.

* The launches in Ottawa and Burnaby are sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts. Thanks for their continued support!
** The launch in Toronto is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, Metro Readings in Public Places.
***The launch in Vancouver is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.

 

Local Heroes cover

LOCAL HEROES: Poetry  ·  Canada $19.95  ·  US $19.95  ·  Trade paperback  ·  ISBN 978-1-55483-206-4 ·  154 pages  ·  5″ x 8”

“It is an excellent collection of poems which celebrate London cultural pioneers. It is full of Penn’s humour and wordplay. These poems evoke the city in its particular landscape and history.
And as anyone who knows Penn, a launch is never merely a launch. It is more like an evening with Penn and friends.
The evening began with a curator tour: Women’s Lives in Canada: A History, 1875-2000. Then Penn read from the book. They also showed several short videos on Local Heroes by Dennis Siren, Mary McDonald and Western’s Community Engaged Learning.
Dennis Siren recorded much of the evening at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-zCVUjonwk.
You can also keep up to date with Penn at her blog https://pennkemp.wordpress.com
She is a poetic El Nino.”  Mike O’Connor, Insomniac Press

The LOCAL HEROES event held on July 22 at Eldon House in London, was a great success.  It featured poems from “Teresa Harris Rides Again”. Mary McDonald created several augmented reality videos which were shown and displayed as qr markers in the house all week.  You can see them on https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/