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Print Version

ID: 4963
Date Added: 2002-09-04
Date Modified: 2012-06-19
Pendas 4.0000 average | Votes: 1
Penn Kemp: poet and weaver of sound [photo by Christopher Blythe] 
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Photo: Creighton Studios, Toronto

See this month's Penn Letter

Also see: Binding Twine

For Gwendolyn MacEwen
Click to view Not Waving But Drowning
and here to read Not Waving but Drowning by Penn Kemp

Click to see and hear: NIGHT ORCHESTRA

Penn Kemp travels. One of Canada's most active performance poets, Penn has attracted enthusiastic audiences worldwide with her unique delivery, most recently at the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury. The Association of Canadian Studies has sponsored Penn's reading tours throughout India and Brazil, with the Canada Council’s aid in travel grants. Since 1966, she has taught creative writing and creativity in Canadian schools, most recently at the Wellesley Writers’ Retreat. (For a students' write-up of that all day workshop, see http://publish.edu.uwo.ca/janette.gadanidis/poets.html. Among her publications are twenty-five books of poetry and drama as well as fiction. A prolific artist, she has to date had six plays produced and eight CDs, available in book/cd combinations from Pendas Productions in both new and reprinted editions.

Several of her recent CDs are what Penn terms "Sound Operas": poetic narratives that weave sound, imagery and music in the counterpoint of many voices. The CDs are WHEN THE HEART PARTS, "movingly rendered with a haunting musicality"; SARASVATI SCAPES, a pilgrimage to India; FROM THE LUNAR PLEXUS, the forthcoming ANIMUS, and now, in preparation, TRANCE DANCE FORM. Penn is delighted to present her latest work with actor Anne Anglin, musician Brenda Muller, Pendas publisher Gavin Stairs and CD producer John Magyar.

Penn's work is play grounded in a spacious awareness of word-hoards and an acute attention to syllabics. Her creative vision expands the traditional experience of reading into an inter-active, virtual and live presentation that delights and amazes in its variety of sound and visual patterns. Her vocalizations lift words off the page into dialogue, inviting response and musical improvisation. Penn draws upon contemporary and mythic themes in exploring new aural territory. Her performances create free associations of mythopoetics, spoken word, vocal invention and colouring, often in sampled electronic landscapes. The result is an excitingly dynamic mix. See her web sites: pennkemp.ca, ongoing www.mytown.ca/pennletters and www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/kemp.

Since her first sound/concrete book was published in 1972, Penn has been pushing text and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance. Her videopoem, "Re:Solution", won for best performance (The Voice Award), Vancouver Videopoem Festival, 2001. Once again in the forefront using new technology to engage her audience, she has released Canada's first poetry CD-ROM, ON OUR OWN SPOKE, "a delight for the ear and to the eye". She leads off SOUWESTO WORDS, a CD released by Ergo Productions, London Ontario. Her sound poem, “Sin Tax” is heard on ‘CARNIVOCAL: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Sound Poetry’ from Red Deer College Press (1999). Her sound poetry was featured on CBC’s “Sounding Off”, hosted by Ann Shin, and on Kevin Courier's documentary about sound poetry as well as “Word Beat” in 2004. Television documentaries about Penn are shown on WTN's series, "Spiritual Journey" and on Shaw Cable. At the League of Poets' AGM, she was proclaimed a foremother of Canadian poetry.

www.mytown.ca/poem for peace includes the video of Penn's "poem for peace in many voices" and, in audio, is being updated to all 100 translations of this poem! The video shows one of our many performances, this one in London. The books/Cds of translations have recently been deposited at the Library in Alexandria, as well as at the UN. See photos galore, on pennkemp.bebo.com. Check out Penn’s flash poem for Gwendolyn MacEwen up near the top of this page! More info on Pendas at mytown.ca/twelfth.

Interviews with Penn about Pendas are archived on Flaunting The Arts on Radio Western: www.chrwradio.com April 5, 2006. “Re-sounding Poet Kemp is the consummate performer and artist who has brought her world travels to vivid life in many book/CDs.” (Vancouver Central Library)

As performer and workshop leader, Penn has performed in arts festivals around the world, giving readings and workshops, often as writer-in-residence. Penn is often in schools, giving participatory performances and workshops in sound poetry and drama, in the process creating a magazine with students.

Penn enjoys collaborating with artists of other disciplines, such as actors Anne Anglin and John Blackwood; poets Patricia Keeney and Susan McMaster, Colin Morton and John Oughton; and musicians Bill Gilliam, Brenda Muller, Handslang, David Prentice, and Darren Copeland; and animator Jeff Dawson. Thanks to a 1999 Canada Council grant in the Spoken and Electronic Word pilot program, Penn produced a CD-ROM/audio CD of her performance pieces: On Our Own Spoke. Several of these sound poems are mounted on this site.

Her play, What the Ear Hears Last, was produced at The Gathering at Theatre Passe Muraille (1994) and directed by Anne Anglin. In 1995, Penn gave sounding workshops and performances in Bombay through the Indian Institute of Canadian Studies. These experiences inspired her homage performance, Temporary Harmonies, with musicians/composers Butterfly Effects at the Music Gallery in Toronto (1995). Her return to Bombay in December, 2000 resulted in new work: SARASVATI SCAPES and TIME LESS TIME, written with partner Gavin Stairs. Penn's fascination with Egypt has led her to visit twice, once with other metaphysical teachers, and again as a tour leader. An intrigue with ancient mythology has taken her on many such journeys.

An Open Letter to Canadianistas and other lovers
of contemporary Canadian poetry...

We have been very busy publishing 12 fine books of poetry through Pendas Productions! You can read samples, with audio, on mytown.ca/twelfth.
Some of you might wish to write on this work from Pendas Productions.

You can see and hear my Poem for Peace in Two Voices and many translations on mytown.ca/poemforpeace. We are now up to 100 translations, and still looking for more, if you have any suggestions!

Penn Kemp
Pendas Productions
525 Canterbury Road, London ON N6G 2N5

e-mail: Pendas@pennkemp.ca

Celebrating Collaborations: check out these websites!

Darren Copeland, www.deepwireless.ca
Jeff Dawson, http://sparrowheart.ca
Daniel Kolos, ~damilos/poetry.html
John Magyar, PsychoSpace.com
Susan McMaster, http://web.ncf.ca/smcmaster
Brenda Muller, www.ardeleanamusic.com

Photo of Penn: Christopher Blythe

Keywords: sound poetry

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