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P.K. Page

Patricia Kathleen Page was born November 23, 1916 at Swanage, Dorset, England. P.K. Page left England with her family in 1919 to settle in Red Deer, Alberta. She was educated in Calgary and Winnipeg and later studied art in Brazil and New York. In the early 1940ís Page moved to Montreal to work as a filing clerk and a researcher. She belonged to a group that founded the magazine Preview (1942-45) and associated with F.R. Scott, Patrick Anderson, Bruce Raddick and Neufville Shaw. Her poetry was first published in Unit of Five (1944) edited by Ronald Hambleton. The other members of Five were Hambleton, Louis Dudek, Raymond Souster, and James Wreford. In addition to poetry, Page wrote short stories, novellas, a romantic novel, and Brazilian Journal(1987), that is both a travel book and an autobiography. From 1946-1950 Page worked for the National Film Board as a scriptwriter. In 1950 she married William Arthur Irwin, who figured as Arthur in her later poems and as A. in her Brazilian Journal. She has acquired a reputation as a painter under her married name P.K. Irwin. Some of her books combine her poetry or prose with reproductions of her drawings or paintings (Cry Ararat!, Brazilian Journal).

P.K. Page
(1916 - 2010)

 

 
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The Stenographers 

After the brief bivouac of Sunday, 
their eyes, in the forced march of Monday to Saturday, 
hoist the white flag, flutter in the snow-storm of paper, 
haul it down and crack in the mid-sun of temper. 

In the pause between the first draft and the carbon 
they glimpse the smooth hours when they were children-- 
the ride in the ice-cart, the ice-man's name, 
the end of the route and the long walk home; 

remember the sea where floats at high tide 
were sea marrows growing on the scatter-green vine 
or spools of grey toffee, or wasps' nests on water; 
remember the sand and the leaves of the country. 

Bells ring and they go and the voice draws their pencil 
like a sled across snow; when its runners are frozen 
rope snaps and the voice then is pulling no burden 
but runs like a dog on the winter of paper. 

Their climages are winter and summer--no wind 
for the kites of their hearts--no wind for a flight; 
a breeze at the most, to tumble them over 
and leave them like rubbish--the boy-friends of blood. 

In the inch of the noon as they move they are stagnant. 
The terrible calm of the noon is their anguish; 
the lip of the counter, the shapes of the straws 
like icicles breaking their tongues, are invaders. 

Their beds are their oceans--salt water of weeping 
the waves that they know--the tide before sleep; 
and fighting to drown they assemble their sheep 
in colums and watch them leap desks for their fences 
and stare at them with their own mirror-worn faces. 

In the felt of the morning the calico-minded, 
sufficiently starched, insert papers, hit keys, 
efficient and sure as their adding machines; 
yet they weep in the vault, they are taut as new curtains 
stretched upon frames.  In their eyes I have seen 
the pin men of madness in marathon trim 
race round the track of the stadium pupil. 

1946