Penn Kemp

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Penn Kemp (born 1944) is a Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, and sound poet who lives in London, Ontario.[1]

Kemp was born in Strathroy, Ontario and raised in the nearby city of London.[1] She earned a degree in English and literature from the University of Western Ontario in 1966 and received certification as a teacher.[1] She taught high school English in Timmins and North York, Toronto for several years and in 1988 she received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship to complete a Masters of Education degree at the University of Toronto.[1]

Poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has been celebrated as a trailblazer since her first publication of poetry by Coach House (1972), and a “one-woman literary industry”. She was London's inaugural Poet Laureate[2] and University of Western Ontario's Writer-in-Residence (2009-2010)[3] as well as the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, 2015. Kemp has been a keen participant in Canada's cultural life with thirty books of poetry, prose and drama; seven plays and ten CDs produced as well as several award-winning videopoems.

In 1984, Penn was writer in residence for Niagara Erie Writers in New York State; for the Labrador School Board in 1986; for Flesherton Library in 1988 and '89; and at SNDT Women's University in Mumbai in 1995.[1]

In 1994, Penn's play, What the Ear Hears Last, was produced by Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto and, in the same year, she was featured on the CBC Radio show, "Sounding Off."[1] In 1995 the Indian Institute of Canadian studies sponsored her tour of Mumbai colleges and universities.[1]

In 2010, Kemp became London, Ontario's first poet laureate.[2]



  • 'Homeward Bound (2015); The Spousal Song (2013). PlayWrights Cabaret, The Grand Theatre, London,
  • 'The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, Eldon House, London (2013)
  • 'Scenes from the Electric Folklore Machine, Aeolian Hall, London (2012)
  • 'Mrtvolka, with Anne Anglin, Daniela Sneppova, Harbourfront Studio Theatre, Toronto
  • 'The Space Between: A Transmorphous Journey, Wolf Performance Hall, London (2010)
  • 'Re-Visions: a sound opera, with Brenda McMorrow, Bill Gilliam, Aeolian Hall, London (2009)
  • 'What the Ear Might Hear, (2009); When the Heart Parts, Playwrights Cabaret (2007)
  • 'Communication Breakdown, with Chris Meloche, McManus Theatre, London (2008)
  • 'Re:Animating Animus: a sound opera, Aeolian Hall, London (2008)
  • 'Xtra Text/ure. Symposium, Playing the Gallery: McIntosh Gallery Western U, London (2007)
  • 'Darkness Visible: a sound opera, with Chris Meloche, Aeolian Hall, London (2006)
  • 'Trance Dance Form: sound opera, with Bill Gilliam, Jean Martin, Brick Works, Toronto (2006)
  • 'Vocal Braiding: an experiment in poetry and theatre (with Patricia Keeney, directed by Don Rubin, 2000.) Performed in Jaipur, India and for Indian television; York University
  • 'Symposium on Canadian Theatre at the University of Rajasthan (with Don Rubin, 2000)
  • 'Temporary Harmonies, The Music Gallery, Toronto; U. of Mumbai, India
  • 'What The Ear Hears Last (The Gathering); Eros Rising, 1978, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto
  • 'Angel Makers, Red Theatre, Toronto. Trance Dance Form, Harbourfront, Toronto (1976)
  • 'The Epic of Toad and Heron: a play. Toronto Island Clubhouse and ON schools, (1977-2012)

Other works[edit]

  • Time Less Time / Quand cesse le temps, Penn Kemp and Gavin Stairs, French translation by Claude Gillard.
  • Vocal Braiding, Penn Kemp and Patricia Keeney, designed by Gavin Stairs. Chapbook/CD.
  • Sarasvati-Scapes, Angela Hryniuk and Penn Kemp (Gavin Stairs Fine Editions, Fiddlehead Press, 2001).
  • Two Lips, Penn Kemp, Anne Anglin and Susan McMaster, CD produced by PsychoSpace Sound, 2001. Design, Richard Payne.
  • INCREMENTALLY: Sound and concrete poetry from Penn Kemp's participatory performances. Photos by Rachel Thompson. CD
  • George The Purple Spotted Horse. Illustrator and author, James Kemp. introduction and story editing by his daughter, Penn Kemp. Fine art chapbook.
  • SUITE ANCIENT EGYPT (2001) poetry. Mothertongue Press, BC
  • WHAT SPRINGS TO MIND (2001), Pendas Productions
  • FOR PEACE IN MANY VOICES, ed., Vol. 1 & 2 (2002), book and CD
  • SARASVATI SCAPES (2002) with Angela Hryniuk, Pendas Productions
  • C’LOUD (2003) poetry, Pendas Productions. Book and CD combo
  • SARASVATI SCAPES: a sound opera, CD, Pendas Productions
  • GATHERING VOICES (2002) with Gloria Mulcahy, Pendas. Book and CD combo.
  • POEMAS ESCOLHIDOS DE PENN KEMP/ Selected Poems by Penn Kemp (2004) ABECAN,
  • RE:ANIMATING ANIMUS (2006) Pendas Productions. Book and CD combo. London
  • HELWA! (2011), PigeonBike Press, London ON
  • FROM DREAM SEQUINS (2012), Lyrical Myrical Press, Toronto ON
  • THE EPIC OF TOAD AND HERON (2012), reprint. Pendas Productions, London ON
  • JACK LAYTON: ART IN ACTION (2013), editor, Quattro Books, Toronto. First & second edition.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Penn Kemp: Biography". Canadian Poetry Online. University of Toronto Libraries. 2000. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b Jennifer Sproul (October 2010). "Introducing London's First Poet Laureate: Penn Kemp". The Londoner. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Former Writers-in-Residence". Retrieved 1 July 2021.