The Call of the Forest

Here’s to the Creative Aging Festival!  I’m delighted to be opening this showcase tonight with a paean of praise to an elder who most exemplifies creative aging!

Diana Beresford Krueger lives on a farm near Lanark, Ontario, but she grew up in Ireland. Diana is a seventy-two year old Leo, appropriately born in the Year of the Wood Monkey, and a proponent/gardener of native species par excellence. Her film, The Call of the Forest, exudes an astute vitality and a whole-hearted commitment to environmental activism. The glory of the film is its in-depth appreciation of trees: a documentary “driven by beauty”*! It is showing at The Hyland Cinema till June 1, and I truly recommend it.

In this film, The Call of the Forest, and in her books like The Global Forest, Diana interprets the nature of trees from both profoundly scientific and spiritual perspectives. Certainly, she emphasizes the healing benefits of specific trees as well as the forest as a whole. Care to go forest bathing to enhance your immune system? Try wandering among the deodar pines of Elsie Perrin Williams estate. Open your lungs and breathe in the powerful antioxidants that will lift your spirits for days.

How to articulate the invisible, the spirit of tree, for example… why, that’s my aim as a poet.  My childhood desire was to understand the language of trees, plants and birds. Diana translates for me, even in this dream poem:

Visit In Tune, In Time

Diana Beresford Kroeger benignly surveys my wild garden.
As I explain that I like to let things grow naturally, to pop up
where they will, she sniffs. “This garden needs more tending,”

she proclaims. Singing along, I set to work weeding. Waving
a hand, she encourages my rhythm to tune in with the plants’
own. So the cardinal colours deepen, burnished lilies bronze

exuberant in sunlight. Impossible Echinacea record no clash
of purple/orange but blare triumph. Songbirds gather, a lilt of
goldfinch, a trill of Carolina wren. Cardinals respond in chords.

Brilliance resounds all around. Redbud, mock-orange boughs
bow in the heightened breeze. Resonance ripples and whirls
to restore, re-story this walled garden, her flowers telling, told.

How do plants communicate to each other… and to us? As botanist and biochemist raised in Ireland’s woodland lore, Diana bridges the false gap between science and the arts, between science and spirituality. Her roots are manifold, both as botanical researcher with a doctorate in medical biochemistry, and as hereditary lineage-holder, steeped in the Celtic tradition that has revered woodlands for centuries. Diana vividly and empathetically expresses the urgency in protecting the forest, especially our northern boreal forest that is so essential for global carbon storage.

She continues to beam a sense of wonder, joy and curiosity grounded in intellectual acuity. And in those traits alone, Diana Beresford Krueger is a triumphantly engaged guide to very creative aging. We can only aspire to learn from such an inspirational mentor. Her message is simple: go plant a native tree every year, and watch it grow! Let’s create our Forest City in reality as well as name!

*A quote in a email from the film’s director, Jeff McKay. Thanks to him for exquisite photography, editing and commentary.
Diana 2017

Hear Diana’s CBC interview about the benefits of forest bathing!

Call of the Forest
248 Princess Street, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Winnipeg, MB R3B Canada

CalloftheForest.ca
Twitter @DBKTrees
Facebook.com/CallOfTheForest/

Creative Aging Wolf Hall 2017

 

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Four Days in May: Winnipeg, 2015

Memories of Winnipeg: wafting lilacs this way! A confluence of two great rivers. And the city is an island of mature elms: arching over the streets…

A glorious gaggle of writers! We’re in Winnipeg for the 2015 joint conference presented by the League of Canadian Poets and the Writers Union of Canada. This celebration marked the 49th annual LCP Poetry Conference and Festival. So many good panels and talks and collective catching up.

May 29. A photo after my reading… and participatory sounding.. in The Aboriginal Resources section of The Winnipeg Public Library. The reading was sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, the Library and CV2..Here’s the poster: ReadingWinnipeg.

Mora Gregg, Barbara Schott, Clarise Foster, Margaret Sweatman, Teri Degler, me, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Ellen Jaffe

Mora Gregg, Barbara Schott, Clarise Foster, Margaret Sweatman, Teri Degler, me, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Ellen Jaffe

May 30. For the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets, I read my poem dedicated to Colleen Thibaudeau. The text is up on https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/poem-for-poet-colleen-thibaudeau/.

I was delighted and honoured to present the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award award at the League of Canadian Poets banquet in Winnipeg on May 30 to esteemed Saskatchewan poet Glen Sorestad, represented by Tracy Hamon. James Reaney recently wrote about Colleen and Glen Sorestad in his blog: http://blogs.canoe.com/brandnewblog/entertainment/glen-sorestad-wins-2015-colleen-thibaudeau-award-yay/. There was a large turn-out, as the League event was combined with the Writers’ Union AGM. Colleen would have chuckled at the orange flower I wore in my hair for her!

Photo: Susan McCaslinWinnipeg palm up

And I was awarded the 2015 SHERI-D WILSON GOLDEN BERET AWARD.
“The Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award was created by Sheri-D Wilson—a pioneer of spoken word poetry in Canada—to honour a Canadian spoken word artist who has made a substantial contribution to the development of spoken word, through the originality and excellence of his or her own writing/performance works, and through involvement in—and contributions to—the expansion of the spoken word community. The award carries a $1,000 prize and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and Calgary Spoken Word Society.” 2015 Jury:  bill bissett, Moe Clark and Sheri-D Wilson. Judges’ Comments: “We are pleased to honor performance poet, activist and playwright Penn Kemp of London, Ontario for her influence and impact on spoken word in Canada.”

What a thrill!

Accepting Golden Beret award from Ayesha Chatterjee, President of the League of Canadian Poets. Photo: Susan McCaslin

Accepting Golden Beret award from Ayesha Chatterjee, President of the League of Canadian Poets.
Photo: Susan McCaslin

Winnipeg banquet audience

I'm describing Sheri=D Wilson as Poet Lariat!

I’m describing Sheri=D Wilson as Poet Lariat!    The above photos were taken by Susan McCaslin.

Winnipeg Banquet Penn, Teri Degler , Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin

Winnipeg Banquet
Penn, Teri Degler , Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin

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Kate Braid, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Bianca  Lakoseljac, Penn, Teri Degler Photo: Allan Briesmaster

Kate Braid, Judy Rebick, Susan McCaslin, Bianca Lakoseljac, Penn, Teri Degler
Photo: Allan Briesmaste

May 31. Glad to be Carmelo Militano’s guest  from 4:30-5pm on CKUW, University of Winnipeg Radio! Synchronicities abound.  You can hear the half hour on https://ckuw.ca/128/20150531.16.30-17.00.mp3.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he interviewed me on his show, P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Mora Gregg and I walked this lovely labyrinth dedicated to Carol Shields.

Photo: Mora Gregg

Photo: Mora Gregg

In the Manitoba legislature building, I got to sound the echo in the round Egyptian room.  Sphinxes, Athena, Medusa, bronze buffalo bulls… and golden Hermes on top, pointing a way along the avenue to open the North!  Mysteries abound… along with giant polar bears.

Photo: Heidi Greco

Photo: Heidi Greco

Heidi, Penn and Golden Boy, aka Hermes!  Photo: Mora Gregg

Heidi, Penn and Golden Boy, aka Hermes!
Photo: Mora Gregg

And THEN, the WAG.  The Winnipeg Art Gallery featured an exhibit of Classical Art… including the Muses.

Judy Rebick, several friends and I spend the evening looking out on the gardens where two more labyrinths are being dreamed into existence.

Thank you, Winnipeg, for your kind and generous hospitality… and for bringing back the Spring!

Penn

Photo: Deb Hill

Photo: Deb Hill