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Poetry General

The Essential P. K. Page

by (author) P.K. Page

Porcupine's Quill
Initial publish date
Sep 2008
General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
    List Price

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P. K. Page needs no introduction. This is a poet who writes in many genres and on an infinite number of subjects. The source of her poetry is always love -- whether in vivid portraits of her inner and outer landscapes; startling insights into the past, the present, the future; illumination of some tiny detail of ordinary life; or admonishments for our neglect of the earth and of each other. Page is an alchemist who turns language into pure gold, a magician who dazzles with sleight of mind. The Essential P. K. Page is perceptive, elegant, romantic (yet never sentimental), sometimes downright funny, wholly conscious.

About the author

P. K. Page has written some of the best poems published in Canadaover the last five decades. In addition to winning the Governor General's awardfor poetry in 1957, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in1999. She is the author of more than a dozen books, including tenvolumes of poetry, a novel, selected short stories, three books for children,and a memoir, entitled Brazilian Journal, based on her extended stay in Brazilwith her late husband Arthur Irwin, who served as the Canadian Ambassador therefrom 1957 to 1959. A two-volume edition of Page's collected poems, The Hidden Room (Porcupine's Quill), was published in 1997. In addition to writing, Page paints, under the name P. K. Irwin. She has mounted one-woman showsin Mexico and Canada. Her work has also been exhibited in various group shows, andis represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery ofCanada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Victoria Art Gallery, amongothers. P. K. Page was born in England and brought up on the Canadian prairies. She has livedin the Maritimes and in Montreal. After years abroad inAustralia, Brazil and Mexico, she now makes her permanent home in Victoria, British Columbia.

P.K. Page's profile page


  • Commended, Alcuin Award for Excellence in Book Design

Editorial Reviews

'... Northrop Frye uses the phrases ''metallic glitter'' and ''imaginative wisecracks'' to describe Page's poems.... Those who enjoy ''glitter'' in poetry will appreciate the diction, imagery, and acoustics of Page's phrasings, as in ''Evening Dance of the Grey Flies''.'

Rover Arts Montreal

'Elegant, rigorous, fresh, P. K. Page's work sings with a voice of independent character and maenad conjecture. It is a creature that lives on its own terms and terrain. It is startling, authoritative, and anti-sentimental, able to bear cool as well as passionate gazing at our own species. Her poems are always thinking -- each line is thinking, while its six senses remain impeccably alert. Her poems live by wit, wisdom, sass, suspense and a muscular lissome synapse and diction. They are daring in scope, meticulous in accomplishment, and boldly moral -- with a lovely flavour of amoral verve! We fall under the charm of her reasoning, of her fecund, fastidious imagination, of her many musics, and of her necessariness to us, her essentialness.'

Griffin Prize citation

The Essential P.K. Page is ... a relief. It's a reprieve to hold in one's hand a compact 60 pages featuring the most memorable, most confounding, most rereadable poems written by Page.

ARC Poetry Magazine

'Facing the fact of Page's entire oeuvre can be daunting; it contains little apprentice-work, few throwaways. The Essential P. K. Page is in this sense a relief. It's a reprieve to hold in one's hand a compact 60 pages featuring the most memorable, most confounding, most rereadable poems written by Page, arranged alphabetically -- each allowed its own space, unencumbered by time or category.'

The Malahat Review

'Born in England, Patricia Kathleen (P. K.) Page moved to Canada in 1919, at the age of three. She has lived in New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta and now makes her home in British Columbia, in the capital city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. At age 92 she is writing more than ever. This latest collection of her poetry, The Essential P. K. Page, is aptly named. Any fan of her work, of Canadiana, of poetry in general, needs to own this book. The works contained within are dense and chewy, both requiring and creating thought, and keeping all five of the reader's senses involved in the pleasure of reading them. What makes Page's poems so unusual is their apparent rejection of the idea that thought and emotion, thinking and feeling, are different and must be kept separate. P. K. Page thinks with her heart, loves with her mind, and leaves us a wonderful, tangled mess of imagination and possibility. I hope she lives well into her triple-digits, and brings us many more portraits painted as beautifully, as movingly as The Essential P. K. Page.'


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