With National Poetry Month beginning April 1, spoken word poet Penn Kemp —London’s first Poet Laureate from 2010-2012 — can add another accolade to her distinguished career: A Sheri D. Wilson Golden Beret Award from the League of Canadian Poets.
Created to honour a Canadian spoken word poet who has made a substantial contribution to the development of the art form in Canada, Kemp will be presented the award and an accompanying $1,000 prize during the three-day 2015 League of Canadian Poets Annual Poetry Festival and Conference May 30 in Winnipeg.
Kemp said in an interview March 24 she was excited to join Canadian poets like Bill Bissett (Toronto) and Tanya Evanson (Vancouver), two previous winners of the award named after Wilson, a long-standing and influential Canadian spoken word artist.
Like many of London’s poets, Kemp will be busy celebrating National Poetry Month over the next four weeks. She’ll be performing April 1 at Mykonos restaurant with John Nyman and 15 other open mic readers at an event that’s been drawing decent audiences since it was created by organizer Stan Burfield.
The theme for this year’s National Poetry Month is food, and some of Kemp’s material as well as a Q and A with the poet is available online at londonpoetryopenmic.com.
Kemp says she believes April is the month of choice for poetry because, as T.S. Eliot wrote in his famous poem The Waste Land, “April is the cruellest month.”
“I think because of that we claim April, and it’s also such a month of transition and new beginnings, so poetry lends itself to (it),” Kemp said.
Poetry London also recognized Kemp recently, awarding her second prize in a contest recently for her poem “As if you are leaping in the air” about Canadian figure skaters Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue. In May, Kemp resumes her new role as Creative Age London’s writer-in-residence. She has curated a series of four free readings/workshops to be held Saturday mornings (9 a.m. – 11 a.m.) in May at Landon Library. (In fact, Sheri D. Wilson is scheduled to read at the workshop May 23.)
Elsewhere in London during National Poetry Month, the London Poetry Slam is wrapping up its current season at The Palace Theater April 17. The Slam’s poets have been in friendly competition since June and the top 10 will be vying for a spot on the London team that will head to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in October.
London Poetry Slam director Holly Painter said London will also sent a youth team of poets under 21 years old to the Youthcanslam Festival in Ottawa for the first time.
Local slam poet Jayme Archibald has already been accepted to perform at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam April 29 at The Rio Theatre in Vancouver.
IF YOU GO:
What: Poetry reading with Penn Kemp and John Nyman
Where: Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St. North.
When: 7:00 p.m.
More info: www.londonpoetryopenmic.com
Tickets: By donation
IF YOU GO:
What: The London Poetry Slam Finals
When: April 17, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: The Palace Theatre, 710 Dundas Street.
More info: www.londonpoetryslam.ca