At this time, only a small body of PK’s non-fiction is available in The Filled Pen (2006), which contains texts selected by her to present a carefully curated self-image. The majority of PK’s non-fiction, which remains uncollected or unpublished, drastically alters this image. This hitherto inaccessible material will revise our understanding of several key elements of PK’s life, including her spirituality, her politics, and the control which she exercised over public perceptions of her life and writing. For The Collected Works, PK’s non-fiction has been divided into four areas which will be reflected in both The Digital Page and in the complementary volume published by the Porcupine’s Quill.
Life writing. PK regularly kept journals and notebooks about her daily activities and observations, much of it unpublished. For example, her diaries of her time in Australia as the wife of diplomat Arthur Irwin offer a fascinating counterpoint to her retrospectively polished and published Brazilian Journal which aestheticizes and idealizes her experiences. In contrast, the Australian diaries are very much grounded in comparisons between Canadian and Australian politics and culture in the 1950s.
Spirituality and Dreams. Sufism was the central concern of the second half of PK’s life, even though this is not reflected in her published works. Moreover, before the final accession of material to Library and Archives Canada after her death, there was virtually no material on this topic in the Page fonds. The trove of Sufi material in the final accession includes notebooks, study materials, commentaries and responses to the work of Idries Shah, as well as a number of dream journals which are closely related to her Sufism.
Writing on Writing and the Visual Arts. The area of PK’s non-fiction which has received the most attention is her reflections on writing and the visual arts which were included in The Filled Pen (2006). Many of these texts were solicited; by placing them in the social context of their original publication and subsequent republication, The Digital Page will provide a clearer sense of the role they played in shaping the contemporary status of Canadian writing and PK’s public persona.
Public Speeches. In PK’s role as the wife of a diplomat, she delivered a variety of speeches in Australia, Brazil and Mexico. After her return to Canada, she continued to lecture in various venues on a range of topics. PK’s speeches, which have never been published, establish her importance as a representative public figure in both politics and the the arts.