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Penn Kemp is a London, Ontario based poet, playwright, performer, editor, and educator.
Penn Kemp was born Patricia Penn Anne Kemp in Strathroy, Ontario on August 4, 1944. Raised in London, Ontario by parents, artist James (Jim) Kemp and Anne Kemp, Penn Kemp went on to complete a BA (Hon.) in English Language and Literature at the University of Western Ontario in 1966 and an Ontario Teacher’s Certificate at Althouse College in 1967. After graduating, Kemp taught English at high schools in Timmins and North York until 1970 when she began performing, giving readings, and leading creativity workshops. In 1988, Kemp completed a M.Ed. at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education with a thesis entitled "Invenio: The Source of a Biography in Mythology." After living in Toronto for many years, Kemp returned to London, Ontario in 2001 where she has since been active in the local literary community. In 2010, Kemp became the inaugural Poet Laureate for London.
Kemp has published over 30 volumes of poetry and drama both through her own company, Pendas Productions, and other publishers. A frequent collaborator, Kemp has also produced plays, CDs, videopoems, participatory performances, and "Sound Operas." Kemp has travelled to Europe, North Africa, Mexico, South America and India giving readings, performances, and workshops, with tours in India and Brazil through the Association of Canadian Studies with supported by Canada Council for the Arts. She served as The University of Western Ontario’s Writer-in-Residence for 2009-10 and has been the writer-in-residence in many communities in North America, India, and Scotland.
Kemp was awarded the League of Canadian Poets’ Life Membership Award in 2012 and the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for excellence and innovation in spoken word poetry in 2015. Kemp was also awarded a QEII Diamond Jubilee medal for service to arts and culture in London.
Kemp runs Pendas Productions with husband, Gavin Stairs. She has two children, Amanda and Jake Chalmers.