April is National Poetry Month. As in the past, London Open Mic will feature two poets, but this time it will also include its regular contingent of about 15 open mic readers. John Nyman and Penn Kemp will feature during the first hour, followed by a Q&A for both of them, and the open mic section after the intermission.
Penn: "I’m delighted to celebrate National Poetry Month through the League of Canadian Poets with London Open Mic and John Nyman at Mykonos. Our topic this year is, very appropriately, FOOD!"
FIFTY YEARS of Writing and Publishing in London… and Away
Activist poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp is Creative Age London’s Writer-in-Residence. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate for London Ontario (2010-12), a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets, and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal. For Creative Age London, Penn has curated a series of four free reading/workshops to be held Saturday mornings in May at Landon Library.
Penn’s poetry was first published fifty years ago in Western’s literary magazine, FOLIO, when she was an Honours English student. Before that, she was the editor of the Masonville Gazette and the Medway Magnet! Since her first book was published by Coach House Press in 1972, she has been pushing textual and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance work. Penn has published twenty-six books of poetry and drama, had six plays and ten CDs produced as well as several award-winning videopoems.
As Writer-in-Residence for Western, her project was the DVD, Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, Pendas Productions. For seven years, Penn has presented an eclectic literary show, Gathering Voices, on Radio Western: see http://chrwradio.ca/content/upcoming-episodes-gathering-voices. Her essays have been widely anthologized in such Canadian works as the League of Canadian Poets Feminist Caucus archives, Windsor Review: special Alice Munro issue; Untying The Apron; Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace; and Poetry London’s Possessions. Having performed in festivals around the world, most recently in Britain, Brazil and India, Penn lives in the house she grew up in here in London, where she edits poetry for Pendas Productions with her husband Gavin Stairs. She has been heralded by the Writers’ Union as a “one woman literary industry”. Updates and poems are on http://mytown.ca/pennletter and https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/, https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/, linkedin.com/pennkemp,twitter.com/pennkemp.
Penn Kemp: Interview and Five Poems,
From London Open Mic, April, 2014
Five Poems on Food by Penn Kemp:
I would eat local food only were it not for temptation.
A green invitation of open avocado in emerald halves.
An alluring variety of mango hot to eye, cool to tongue.
The seduction of dark chocolate.
The slurped fulfilment in oyster.
The simple necessity of rice.
Otherwise, I would be content with my yard's fall produce.
But having tasted the world's fare, how to return unjaded
to simple pleasures that this ground offers? Beans.
Corn. Squash. Corn. Beans. The three sisters thrive.
Yes, I will eat local food mostly. Except for. Except for...
When The Bare Naked Ladies sing "Snack Time", not one of the stars
they record choose celery sticks. No-one claims carrots for their own.
O banana. O chocolate. Chicory can never compare to café au lait.
On to political rant: our food too cheap, our farmers ruined.
Our eyes closed, we rest easy, spoiled ripe fruit in the docks,
turning sleepy to sun-rotten. Given so much, we reach for more
even when over full. And poems break off as the lunch bell rings.
Luminous Entrance: a sound opera for climate change action
HYMN TO HORMONE
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.
Tender, the moment when a lion
licks its caught prey in the face
cupped between soft paws.
Long tongue on zebra hide.
A kind of indolent yawn
after the swirl of dust, the flailing hoof.
This moment looks like love
to the safe observer bedded down
as the film rolls. The zebra seems
steeped in peace, adrenaline
overload just before its eyes
glaze over. Give over. For ever
as if time could hold. If it could last
before the first bite. The blood.
letting. Go. The lion on cue lolls,
renders fierce intent
to savour first juice.
from THE LUNAR PLEXUS, Pendas Productions
Let the light in, please. Open
the blinds to see that shadow
lies where light does not fall.
Where there is no shadow,
there can be no fear. Where
there is no fear, all is light.
Let light penetrate all
our permeable membrane
of skin. Let it illuminate
dark corridors of blood
and vein. Let light fill
our whole body till cells
dance like dust motes.
Let the sun beam light
through our pores till
we glow luminous and
as the day’s eye.
Let us eat light like
plants. Let us chew
the bright air till we can
swallow light like
fire-eaters. Let us
assimilate light till
we are light, just that
from Dream Sequins, Lyricalmyrical Press
Ode to Tim Two Bitswhopper
Ah, Tim, how far you have fallen from
fine hockey star on quicksilver skates
to purveyor of sludge and sugar and
starch even without any golden arch.
O Tim, if you'd lived you'd be fat now,
rich on food faster than you ever flew.
You discovered the secret, free enterprise.
Hire cheery faces at minimum wage.
Make 'em watch eight hours' video
extolling Horton history. A myth in
the making, all in marketing learned
so well from Amurican owners, those
grown-up Wendy's to your Peter Pan.
And we know how that worked out for
you. Now you’re willing to marry again,
moving up the ranks to rank Burger King:
“The triumph of hope over experience.”
For you can never age nor decay, Tim.
You’ll franchise and fry, immortal in lard
pans or steaming as old-fashioned soma.
Place yourself on every main drag or mall
so tourists can ride from rest stop to rest
expecting their fare everywhere exactly
the same. Why travel for variety when comfort
is here? Drive through. Drive on to the next town.
Familiarity never flags when we're in a rush.
Forget the fuss of old fogies who lament passing
home cookin' for simulacra substitution. They'll
die off with the trees as you lay waste your cups.
Strew your containers and spread your name far!
Overflowing fame translates into dollars, a paean
to plastic and paper debris. Ex-pan, expand and
never explain. Throw out your day-olds, don’t let
customers buy them cheap, sans tax. You have a
Canadian reputation to keep fresh. O Tim, Do-nut
Deity, your name lives in bits, in bites on Saturday
nights, 24/7. We'd bow to you if we could still bend.
Fast fueled, we promo you, we expand with you, O
Sweet Special! O Rush! Think doughnut-emburger’d.
And you’re already for all night bagel breakfast!
WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. Except for the coldest months, the terrace is open to the parking lot behind. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: Doors: 6:00 to 6:30 (It's a restaurant.) Event begins at 7:00
THE FEATURED POET: Our two features, John Nyman and Penn Kemp, will open the poetry portion of the event at 7:00, followed by a Q&A. See John's bio.
OPEN MIC: Following the two featured poets in the first hour and the intermission, 15 open mic poets will read, and any more poets reading until 10:30. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader`s list, which is on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served.
COVER: By donation (in donation jar on back table, or use Donate Button on website Donate Page).
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates at the event receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income.