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Selected Comments

For the first time in my career, I have met an educator who is able to enter a classroom and motivate students to write creatively. Her style and keen interest are infectious. She leads students from one sequential step to the next and paces the progression so that kids have time to explore with her a world of creativity.
                     —Masonville Public School, London, Ontario

We were very honoured to have Penn Kemp in our midst (April 27, 1995). She ran three workshops and an inservice workshop for the students of Grades 1, 2, & 3. Her workshops were informal and most enjoyable which allowed the students to enjoy her presentation as well as appreciate the numerous ways poetry can be expressed. The inservice workshop was presented to 2 students from each group (18) and during this time Mrs. Kemp taught them how to use their own experiences and imagination to write poetry most effectively. The children really enjoyed their experience with a poet and writer and it gave them a greater comprehensive understanding of poetry in its many aspects.
                     —Our Lady of Fatima, Scarborough, Ontario

The students at St. Catherine's have never met a 'live' poet before. Penn's calm and easy manner and her wonderful 'sounds' were a perfect introductory experience. Penn captivated all of the children in all of the sessions. Even in the worst behaved classes of the school not one student had to be chastised. Penn altered her presentation to suit every grade level--including the grades 7 & 8.
                     —St. Catherine's, Toronto, Ontario

The children were very impressed with her presentation. Good intro., asking if students had any questions. Internal Rhyming very impressive. Children had to be very attentive to listen to all the rhyming words.
                     —Forest Hill P.S., Toronto, Ontario

I observed Penn's sessions in both grades 2 & 3 and 6 & 7 and found her work with these two groups to be both entertaining and inspirational at both levels. It was a pleasure to have had her with us.
                     —Edge Hill Country Waldorf School, Durham, Ontario

The students reacted enthusiastically to the presentations which were quite suited to the levels at all ages K-8.
                     —Prince Charles P.S., London, Ontario

The students participated well and enjoyed the 'sound poetry' which was presented. Ms. Kemp adjusted her program very well to accommodate the various age groups which included early years - Grade 3. I was not previously aware of the support given by the League so this reading was well received as we are a core area school. Thank you!
                     —Aberdeen P.S., London, Ontario

("Re Solution" is the theme poem of the League's young poets' site!)
now, what better theme poem could there be? ... see, it was an easy choice, wasn't it!
                     —Harold Rhenisch

Ekphrasis: Poets Musing on Art, April 26, 2001
Thank you for your participation in the above event. It was such a pleasure to meet you and to listen to your very special and original reading of your poems. You truly delighted the audience as well as myself. I would also like to thank you for the copies of your poems which I shared with the students from Smith Falls. I really think it was a magical evening.
                     —Barbara Dytnerska, National Art Gallery, Ottawa

Staying Out of the Pool Hall
      The performance poetry workshop - which was originally entitled, "Is Performance Poetry Poetry?" (or something like that) had had its name changed to "From Page to Stage" after a chorus of protest. It was interesting to hear different ways of performing - some of the presenters were very flamboyant, and used sounds and partial words to accent their work. The most fun were the ones that got the audience to participate. Penn Kemp did this by having us repeat phrases after her, until we'd incrementally made a whole sentence... Being part of the performance made it a lot more interesting.

One point that I thought was very interesting: if you do readings, you are performing, one of the speakers said. There's a prevailing attitude that performance poets are doing something fundamentally different from print poets, but this speaker was arguing that reading directly from the page without any of the flamboyance normally associated with 'performance' is still performance - every reading is performance whether the poet admits it or not. I haven't done any readings (yet) so I can't speak from that end, but I'm certainly more interested as part of the audience when people do something outside of the close reading thing (eyes down, reading from the page into the mic without movement or much expression). I don't think I'll ever be a performance person, but I'd like to use some elements of it in readings - keep it lively.

Two concrete hints were mentioned: you can control your nervousness by lowering your voice, and if you speak the letter 'p' directly into the microphone, it will pop the mic, so the way to get around that is to slide the 'p' past the mic, either by moving your head or by speaking to the side of the mic.
                     —Joanne Merriam (from

Penn Kemp's works copyright © to the author.

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