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Penn Kemp to Read at Celebration Forest event, May 29

Over one hundred people are expected to attend the opening of the Celebration Forest on Sunday, May 29 from 1-4pm. Approximately 300 trees will be planted in memory or celebration of loved ones at this event located behind Parkwood Hospital. (view map)

The Celebration Forest is a partnership with ReForest London, the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St Josephs Health Care (SJHC) and other partners with interests in Westminster Ponds lands. The health care organizations have dedicated this land as part of their ongoing commitment to the health of southwestern Ontario's people and environment.

London's celebrated poet, and City of London Poet Laureate Penn Kemp will be a featured guest, reading her poem Commemorating in Celebration Forest. Mary Kerr will also be celebrated as ReForest London's Tree Hero for 2011. Penn Kemp's poem is below: 


Commemorating in Celebration Forest


Here’s to trees that celebrate soul!

We celebrate their verve.  Here’s

to tree as memory holder, tribute

to our beloved’s ongoing presence.


The Oak above Pond Mills hidden

on a hillside of younger upstarts.

The Beech behind Attawandaron

where October puffball might pop.


The Black Spruce and Tamarack

that whisk us to clearer northern

air as we walk through Sifton Bog

like winds that wind along each limb.


Trees we have known are trees we

can meet by species.  Once connected,

always familiar, old friends to greet

on any city street or in deep woods


if we can slow down long enough to

salute the Tree of Life in each.  Light

candelabra of Catalpa, Horse Chestnut,

Pine, Balsam Fir, Juniper or Cedar cone.


Sing a litany of names that belong here.

Alder, Balm of Gilead, Willow galore.

Glorious Maple, Butternut, sad slips of

Elm, even intrusive Buckthorn now.


Celebrate those graceful interlopers,

the Carolinians (Redbud, Tulip Tree,

magnificent Magnolia) sheltering here

at comfort’s edge in Snowbelt country.


Here’s to lacey Walnut, Honey Locust,

whose canopies carry us off to African

plains: Acacia giraffes might browse

or Le Douanier paint above his lion.


Sycamore is our memory tree, shedding

its bark like arbutus, its winter silhouette

a ghostly skeleton, reminiscent of that

other London’s Plane-shaded streets.


Mother trees surround us, the very

few left over from original forest we

long paved over, old rotten stumps

that settlers burnt to clear their land.


Trees know their season, their reason for

being.  How each tree reaches out to be-

come World Tree.  We have so much to

learn from not living on but with our place.


We who live in this Forest City must ensure

a name never replaces the reality of canopy.

Long may our trees flourish for we can only

prosper with our elder brothers, our mothers


down the long lineage of those gone before.


Penn Kemp, City of London Poet Laureate

Sunday, May 29, 2011, the United Nations designated Year of the Forest.