Sunday, October 28, 2007


Since 1966, sound poet Penn Kemp has taught creative writing and sounding in Canadian schools. Raised in London, she received her Honours BA in English from UWO and her M.Ed from OISE/U. of Toronto. Penn has published twenty-five books of poetry and drama, had six plays and ten CDs produced as well as Canada's first poetry CD-ROM. Sample pieces on,, and Penn is Series Editor for Pendas Poets, and host of Gathering Voices on CHRW FM, lit.-on-air archived on The League of Poets has proclaimed Penn one of the foremothers of Canadian poetry.


Throughout our listening area
light pollution. Evening haze

drifts down from some secret smelter
depending on which wind blows. Small

particulate matter fills the air, fills our lungs
with tiny lumps that hang there undetected
except we can no longer fully breathe.

Cosmic clouds descend upon us. Below
breath. Below thought. Below bellow.

Probability of precipitation. Mixed rain
and thunder showers. Severe weather

warning. War in heaven, warming
torrents into twisters. Forecast unforeseen.

The radio calls for showers. Fog patches.
Clouds clog the mind, crowding thought.

Now calm come... clear of cloud...
I'm thinking stars. Or stars are thinking me.

Where are they? Beyond the veil, still
twinkling, emitting their own dust trails.


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.


Purple spikes rampant now. Cliché bounds
garden gnomes. We drink somewhat musty

ginger tea. Second cups await, red roobos
with mint and lemon balm I've just plucked.

Magdalene might know this tonic, or others
similar. Her purple turban that paintings so

proudly display as her nearly royal emblem
might bob through the fields as she gathers.

Though she would have servants harvesting,
that fine curved hand not browned by sun.

Her name day conjures presence on waves
of prayer, an iconography of purple and red.

Similars, signature. Like calls to like out
of time. Speaking harmonies. Chords lift.

A decorum wealth bestows, lush richness
suggesting florid abundance, jars of unguent.

She is always depicted wrapped, self-contained

and rapt. Cups of tea cool by her side, steam
rising like plumage, like the coils of her turban.

Twenty-two is the master number in Hebrew,
a vibration that opens time with broad strokes

beyond the moment to more universal scope.
But butterfly bush flowers in her honour now.

Echinacea flourishes, blossom and root, for her
medicinal. Wise woman of herbs, of mystery.

Sing your secret through us, Lady. We are
listening. Then and now. Now and then when

we remember. When your name day reminds.


Our daughters push beyond us,
when the power is strong,
unrolling the future to

We can no longer stand
behind our rules. We have
only our word and theirs
to be free. All we can do
is learn without

obligation. To. From.
I free you free me.

Liberation intertwined
with a difference.

The cycle of generation
spirals once more.

We return to our mothers,
offering them the gift
our daughters offer us.


For those mothers who remain
ashore and shoring, mending
the holes, cutting the cords,
gathering stray strands.

Weave the common thread
wide and strong. Make it hold.

Make it glow like that
first cord we almost
remember, the one they
cut off too soon.

For the mothers
who spot the pattern
and laugh

digs wells in
the dried clay
our tears made moist.

We are jars that love
has filled emptied
and fills again.


Blogger Jes said...

the purple turban of Magdaline, her clitoris, hidden and sanctified

8:33 PM  
Blogger Penn said...

Hadn't thought of that, Jes, but I like it, I like it...

10:07 AM  

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