Penn Kemp and John Nyman do our National Poetry Month event.
Wallace Stevens said all poetry is experimental. Well, we certainly had plenty of experimental poetry, of all kinds, at our April 1st National Poetry Month event. A record audience of 68 turned out to hear features John Nyman and Penn Kemp, along with eleven open mic readers.
John Nyman is known as an experimental poet, who, as he said during the Q&A, recites his lines aloud, over and over, at home, just listening to how they sound. Penn Kemp is actually known as a “sound poet”. She emphasizes the sound of individual syllables and letters to the extent that the words of her poems often take second place, resulting in a very unique experience for the audience.
This was Nyman’s first feature appearance at a major event in London, but Kemp is a very well-known quantity here, as she has read at many events over the years, including during her stint as the city’s only Poet Laureate, from 2010 to 2012. Even so, April 1st held special meaning for her, as it was the day she was honoured with the Sheri D. Wilson Golden Beret Award from the League of Canadian Poets for her influence and impact on spoken word in Canada. Also, she had just received, one week earlier, 2nd prize in the 2015 Poetry London poetry contest, judged by Toronto poet Gregory Bettes. (1st prize went to our own interviewer Kevin Heslop.) See their poems here For her League award, Penn happily accepted a large bouquet of Spring tulips.
The packed audience, which included some women from Penn’s Aquafit class that had just let out, enjoyed not only the poetry, but also the Greek ambience, souvlaki and wine, and the ability to freely socialize before the poetry and during the intermission, thanks to the new musical sound at London Open Mic: voices, instead of the loud, live music of the past.
After the intermission, eleven open mic readers held court, representing eleven different flavours of humanity. It was a great evening.