P.K. Page (1916-2010). Photo by Fred Lum. Courtesy Wikipedia.

P.K. Page
Born Patricia Kathleen Page
November 23, 1916
Swanage, Dorset, England
Died January 14, 2010 (aged 93)
Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada
Pen name Judith Cape, P.K. Irwin
Nationality Canada Canadian
Notable work(s) The Metal and the Flower
Notable award(s) Governor General's Award, Order of Canada, FRSC
Spouse(s) William Arthur Irwin
Children 2 daughters (Patricia Morley, Sheila Irving), 1 son (Neal Irwin)
Relative(s) Michael Page (brother, b. 1923)

Patricia Kathleen Page CC OBC FRSC (November 23, 1916 - January 14, 2010) was a Canadian poet.[1]



Page was the author of over 30 published books: of poetry, fiction, travel diaries, essays, children's books, and an autobiography.[2]

She was also known as a visual artist, who exhibited her work as P.K. Irwin at a number of venues in and out of Canada. Her works are in permanent collections of National Gallery of Canada and Art Gallery of Ontario.

Youth and educationEdit

Page was born in Swanage, Dorset, England and moved with her family to Canada in 1919. Page's parents moved her to Red Deer, Alberta in 1919, when she was only 3, and later to Calgary and Winnipeg.[3]

Page said her parents were creative, encouraging non-conformists who loved the arts, recited poetry and read to her. She credited her early interest in poetry to the rhythms she unconsciously imbibed as a child.[4] A year in England when she was 17 opened her eyes to galleries, ballets and concerts.


Page later moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, "where she worked as a shop assistant and radio actress during the late 1930s."[5] During that time Page befriended New Brunswick poets Kay Smith and Jean Sweet, and the three met regularly to read and critique each others' poetry.[6]

In 1941 Page moved to Montreal and came into contact with the Montreal Group of poets, which included A.M. Klein and F.R. Scott.

She became a founding member of Patrick Anderson's Preview magazine in 1942,[5] and of its successor, Northern Review, in 1945. Some of her poetry appeared in the modernist anthology, Unit of Five, in 1944, along with poems by Louis Dudek, Ronald Hambleton, Raymond Souster, and James Wreford.[5]

In 1944 she published a romantic novel, The Sun and the Moon, under the pseudonym Judith Cape. (The novel was reprinted in 1973 , along with some of her short stories from the 1940s, as The Sun and the Moon and Other Fictions.)[7]

Later she became a scriptwriter at Canada's National Film Board, where she met W. Arthur Irwin, a former editor of Maclean's magazine, whom she married in 1950.[4] Following her marriage, "Page devoted her time to writing the poetry collection The Metal and the Flower (1954), for which she received a Governor General's Award."[5]

Page travelled with her husband on his diplomatic postings to Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Guatemala. In Brazil and Mexico, not hearing the rhythms of spoken English, she said, "I had a long dry spell, so I started painting and keeping a journal," published as Brazilian Journal and illustrated with her own paintings.[4] She began writing poetry again following her return to Canada in the mid 1960s.[5]

Her visual art, under her married name as P. K. Irwin, is in galleries and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.[8]

She spent the last years of her life in Victoria, British Columbia.


Page's career can be divided into 2 periods: the 1st being the 1940s and 1950s, the 2nd starting with her return to Canada in the 1960s.

Her early poems "were inward-looking, imaginary biographies," which "rely heavily on suggestive imagery and the detailed depiction of concrete situations to express social concerns and transcendental themes ... such poems as 'The Stenographers' and 'The Landlady' focus on isolated individuals who futilely search for meaning and a sense of belonging. 'Photos of a Salt Mine' considered one of Page's best early poems, examines how art both conceals and reveals reality"[5]

Northrop Frye wrote about her 1954 volume, The Metal and the Flower, that "if there is anything such as 'pure poetry,' this must be it: a lively mind seizing on almost any experience and turning it into witty verse.... Miss Page's work has a competent elegance about it that makes even the undistinguished poems still satisfying to look at."[9]

Her later works showed "a new austerity in form and a reduction in the number of images presented." As well, there is a difference in type of image: "her later poems are often set abroad and suggest a path of liberation for the isolated, alienated individual.... Such poems as 'Bark Drawing' and 'Cook's Mountains' contain images outside the self as does 'Cry Ararat!' - a poem concerning the reconciliation of internal and external worlds, in which Mount Ararat symbolizes a place of rest [in] between."[5]

Critic George Woodcock has said that Page's "most recent poems are more sharply and intensely visual than ever in their sensuous evocation of shape and color and space; their imagery takes us magically beyond any ordinary seeing into a realm of imagining in which the normal world is shaken like a vast kaleidoscope and revealed in unexpected and luminous relationships."[5]


Page won the Governor General's Award in 1954 for The Metal and the Flower, and the Canadian Authors Association Award in 1985 for The Glass Air.[7]

In 1977 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was promoted to Companion of the Order in 1998.

By special resolution of the United Nations, in 2001 Page's poem "Planet Earth" was read simultaneously in New York, the Antarctic, and the South Pacific to celebrate the International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.[1]

Page's poems have been translated into other languages.[10] A symposium on her work, "Extraordinary Presence: The Worlds of P.K. Page", was held in 2002 at Trent University.[11]

British Columbia Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo awarded Page the first Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in 2004, calling her "a true Renaissance woman."[8]

In 2007 Page was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.[12] She held honorary degrees from University of Victoria (1985), University of Calgary (1989), University of Guelph (1990), Simon Fraser University (1990), University of Toronto (1998), University of Winnipeg (2001), Trent University (2004) and the University of British Columbia (2005).[8]

Her last collection, Coal and Roses, was posthumously shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize.[11]

=In popular cultureEdit

Page was the subjet of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Still Waters: The poetry of P.K. Page, directed by Donald Winkler.[13]

P.K. Page Founders' Award for PoetryEdit

A $1,000 poetry prize is awarded annually by the Malahat Review in Page's name.[14] Its editor, Marilyn Bowering, said, "[Her] accomplishments have been an inspiration to several generations of writers," and declared that the award, called the P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry, would formalize Page's "long association with the Malahat Review."[14]




  • Unit of Five: Louis Dudek, Ronald Hambleton, P.K. Page, Raymond Souster, James Wreford (edited by Ronald Hambleton).Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1944.
  • As Ten, as Twenty. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1946.
  • The Metal and the Flower. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1954.
  • Cry Ararat!: poems new and selected. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1967.
  • Poems Selected and New. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1974. ISBN 0887841325
  • Three Poet Artists (by Eldon Grier, P.K. Page, & Joe Rosenblatt). Burnaby, BC: The Gallery, 1978.[15]
  • Five Poems, Toronto: League of Canadian Poets, 1980.
  • Evening Dance of the Grey Flies. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN 0195403819
  • The Glass Air: poems selected and new. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1985, 1991. ISBN 0195405064, ISBN 0195408403.
  • Two Poems. Comox, B.C.: Nemo Press, 1988. (limited edition of 150 copies)
  • Hologram: A book of glosas. London, ON: Brick Books, 1994. ISBN 0919626726 *The Hidden Room: Collected poems (edited by Stan Dragland; 2 volumes). Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 1997. Vol. 1 ISBN 088984190X - Vol. 2 ISBN 0889841934
  • Alphabetical. Victoria, B.C.: Published for the Hawthorne Society by Reference West, 1998.
  • Rosa Dei Venti/Compass Rose. Ravenna, Italy: Longo Editore, 1998.
  • Alphabetical/Cosmologies (2 volumes). Victoria, BC: Poppy, 2000.
  • And Once More Saw the Stars: Four Poems for Two Voices (by P.K. Page and Philip Stratford). Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 2001.
  • Planet Earth: Poems selected and new (edited and with an introduction by Eric Ormsby). Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 2002.
  • Cosmologies: Poems selected & new. Boston: David R. Godine, 2003.
  • Hand Luggage: A memoir in verse. Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2006.
  • The Essential P.K. Page (selected by Arlene Lampert and Théa Gray). Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 2008.[16] ISBN 978-0-88984308-0
  • Coal and Roses. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill, 2009.[17] ISBN 978-0-88984314-1
  • The Golden Lilies, Poems by P.K. Page. Church Street Press, 2009.[18]
  • Cullen: Poems.. Duncan, BC: Outlaw Editions, 2009.[19]


  • Silver Pennies; or, The land of honesty. St. John, NB: Children’s Theatre, 1935. (script)
  • Teeth Are To Keep (directed by Jim MacKay and Dino Rigolo). Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1949. (script)


  • The Sun and the Moon (as Judith Cape). Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1944.
  • The Sun and the Moon, and other fictions (edited by Margaret Atwood). Toronto: Anansi, 1973. (contents: The Sun and the Moon, The Neighbour, The Green Bird, The Woman, The Lord's Plan, Miracles, As One Remembers a Dream, George, The Glass Box)
  • Unless the Eye Catch Fire. Victoria, BC: Full Spectrum, 1994.
  • A Kind of Fiction. Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2001.
  • Up on the Roof. Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2007.


  • Ships and Forts: Canada builds merchant ships recalling historic names of her pioneer forts (with E.L. Harrison). Montreal: Wartime Merchant Shipping, 1944.
  • Brazilian Journal Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987.
  • The Filled Pen: Selected non-fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.


  • Planes (by P.K. Irwin and Mike Doyle). Toronto: Seripress, 1975. (graphics)


  • A Flask of Sea Water. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • The Travelling Musicians (illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton). Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1991.
  • The Goat That Flew. Victoria, BC: Beach Holme, 1993.
  • A Grain of Sand. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003.
  • A Brazilian Alphabet for the Younger Reader. Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2005.


  • To Say the Least: Canadian poets from A to Z. Toronto: Press Porcepic, 1979. ISBN 0888781741

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy Athabasca University.[20].

Audio / videoEdit


P.K. Page reads from Hologram A Book of Glosas (Brick Books)


  • Still Waters: The poetry of P.K. Page (directed by Donald Winkler). National Film Board of Canada, 1990.[13]
Poet P.K

Poet P.K. Page reads from Planet Earth


Except where noted, discographical information courtesy WorldCat.[21]

See alsoEdit

References Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter Scowen, P.K. Page dies at age 93. The Globe and Mail, January 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  2. Rosemary Sullivan, "The Constant Writer: P.K. Page Remembered," CBC News, Jan. 15, 2010,, Web, Apr 11, 2011.
  3. P. K. Page biography, University of Calgary. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Grania Litwin, "At 87, P.K. Page is moving ahead", Victoria Times Colonist, 25 May 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 "P.K. Page,", Web, Apr. 11, 2011.
  6. A. Elizabeth McKim, Kay Smith, New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia, St. Thomas University,, Web, June 8, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Constance Rooke, "Page, Patricia Kathleen," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1602.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Grania Litwin and Jim Gibson, "Writer's skill spanned the arts", Victoria Times Colonist, 15 January 2010, p. D1. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  9. Northrop Frye, "Letters in Canada – 1954," The Bush Garden (Toronto: Anansi, 1971, 39-40.
  10. Polish language annual "Strumien", No. 3, by translator Anna Galon
  11. 11.0 11.1 Constance Rooke & Sandra Djwa, "(P.K.) Patricia Kathleen Page," Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Foundation - Dominion Institute, Web, Apr. 11, 2011.
  12. P.K. Page 1916-2010, Poetry Foundation, Web, Nov. 17, 2012.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Still Waters: The poetry of P.K. Page, National Film Board of Canada. Web, Apr. 19, 2019.
  14. 14.0 14.1 New Award honours renowned poet P.K. Page", Press release, University of Victoria, 16 November 2006. Retrieved 2010-001-16.
  15. Search results = au:Eldon Grier, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 31, 2014.
  16. The Essential P.K. Page, Books in Print, Porcupine's Quill, Web, July 2, 2012.
  17. Coal and Roses, , Books in Print, Porcupine's Quill, Web, July 2, 2012.
  18. The Golden Lilies Brochure (pdf),, Web, July 2, 2012.
  19. Anita Lahey, Three works by P.K. Page, Malahat Review 173, Web, July 2, 2012.
  20. Bibliography of Works by P.K> Page, English-Canadian Writers, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Athabasca University, Web, July 2, 2012.
  21. Search results = au:P K Page + audiobook, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Nov. 6, 2015.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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