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November 1, 2010


London’s first Poet Laureate presents Sound Opera at Brescia

London, ON – Imagine spending two nights between the paws of the Sphinx. London’s poet laureate Penn Kemp presents such an experience in her Sound Opera, Helwa!  Experiencing Ancient Egypt in a multi-media, multi-dimensional event on November 4, hosted by The Circle Women’s Centre at Brescia University College. 

Based on her own experience as a young woman visiting Egypt, Helwa traces the soul’s journey across the nocturnal sky to rebirth the next day: a classical Egyptian journey that the star goddess Nut took nightly. The title, Helwa, means "beautiful" in Arabic.

Performing with Penn will be musicians Mary Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, artistic directors of London’s Light of East Ensemble. Ashton is a graduate of Western’s Faculty of Music who has continued to explore the various languages of music, and has discovered an innate love of traditional music, be it Celtic, Greek, or Arabic. Giannarapis reaches into his roots from Asia Minor where he explores their musical traditions through the Oud. He has performed on television, radio, and at various concerts, and festivals around southern Ontario. Dance artist Lindsey Cherrett will inspire the imaginations of the audience along with percussionist Jocelyn Drainie, a sound practitioner and drummer.

Also being performed is Kemp's "poem for peace in many voices" in Daniel Kolos's translation into Ancient Egyptian – perhaps the first time for millennia that a poem has been translated back into hieroglyphics. (Visit for more information.) As part of the event, guests will be invited to join the musicians for a torch-lit labyrinth walk if weather permits.

Kemp has been performing her poetry in collaboration with musicians since Coach House Press published her first book in 1972. Among her publications are 25 books of poetry & drama; 10 CDs of Sound Opera; six video-poems; and a DVD, Luminous Entrance. Peace activist and now London’s first poet laureate, Kemp was dubbed "a walking literary wonder" and "a force of nature" for eco-poetry, during her term as Western’s writer-in-residence in 2009-2010.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the St. James Building. Admission to the event is $20.00 or $18.00 for students and seniors. For more information about The Circle, please visit

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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit

For more information about the event, please contact:

Kim Young Milani
Director of The Circle Women’s Centre
Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28288