PK’s earliest recorded poem dates from 1932 when she was fifteen; her latest from 2010, the year of her death. During this immensely long career she wrote many hundreds of poems; and some of these exist in dozens of versions, both published and unpublished.
The Digital Page will contain all versions of all of PK’s poems, using the Digital Page Reader to represent the complex genesis of many of them, sometimes extending over several decades.
At this point we are making available several selections of PK’s poetry manuscripts from Library and Archives Canada, as an illustration of the different aspects of our presentation of the genesis of the text through the Digital Page Reader:
- LAC-1-1, the first of 5 bound poetry notebooks, chronologically organized by the young “Pat Page,” beginning with poems she wrote when she was fifteen. This long document, containing some 200 poems, consists primarily of fair copies with some minor revisions and notes. Although these poems, are, for the most part, imitative juvenilia which were never intended by PK for publication, they afford us a fascinating opportunity of witnessing the gradual emergence of PK’s voice, as she works assiduously at mastering her craft.
- LAC-3-5, consisting of several versions, beginning with an intial draft, of a single poem, eventually published as “Is Anyone at Home?” This glimpse into the poet’s workshop allows us to follow her compositional process and the decisions it entails in great detail.
- LAC-27-5, from the beginning of PK’s Brazilian “silent” period, when she had not yet given up her attempt to find poetic expression for her disorientating experience of Brazil and its people. Consisting of a number of poems and poem fragments, none of which were published in her lifetime, this material illustrates how the genesis of a text can sometimes be as revealing of a poet’s state of mind as the finished product.
From beginning to end, Page’s poetry was highly visual, and there are many direct and indirect links between her poetry and her visual art. The Digital Page will illustrate this aspect of poems like “Conversation” or “Macumba: Brazil” or “Travellers’ Palm” or “Dark Kingdom” or “Evening Dance of the Grey Flies” as well as of the Sufi-inflected poems and paintings of her later years.
In the 1970’s, PK began to give poetry readings, at first with reservations, eventually with great enthusiasm and aplomb. The Digital Page will link the texts of the poems with video and audio recordings of PK’s performance of them.
Kaleidoscope: Selected Poems of P.K. Page (2010) the complementary print volume, includes a substantial selection of PK’s poems, some previously unpublished.