“The Filled Pen” by P.K. Page

080209399x.jpg It is rare for a writer to share the experience with other people. Perhaps if they live long enough – P.K.Page is 90 years old – they feel more like it.

At any rate, “The Filled Pen” is an enchanting collection of essays in which the renowned Canadian poet dips into parts of her life as a poet, a short story writer, and a painter. In “A Writer’s Life” she tells of growing up in Calgary (her father in the Military) where poetry was hardly mentioned (even though her mother was an artist and she got plenty of encouragement at home). In New Brunswick she met poets, potters and theatre people, and moved up to Montreal to try her luck. She got a job in an office and then met the legendary Preview group who were starting a small magazine. This turned out to be a handful of mimeographed pages stapled together – long before the days of the Canada Council. But the members of the group marked a turning-point in Canadian poetry: Patrick Anderson, F.R. Scott, Bruce Ruddick, Neufville Shaw and Margaret Day. Preview published her poems; she met A.J.M. Smith, A.M. Klein, and the painters Jori Smith and Goodridge Roberts. In 1946 she published “As Ten as Twenty” and in l954 “The Metal and the Flower”.

P.K. Page married Arthur Irwin, the head of the National Film Board, and also Editor of Macleans Magzine. She travelled with him on diplomatic posts and tells how in Brazil she turned to writing her impressions of the country in prose. One of her happiest experiences was when she worked with her husband, a famous editor, on “Brazilian Journal”. In Brazil she also took up painting and much of her work is shown in galleries across the country.

This book is an intimate story of the growing-up of Canadian Literature written by one of its most distinguished practitioners.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall

The Filled Pen, $21.95, is in stock in Trade Paperback