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Page, P.K.

Toronto, Oxford University Press, c1985. 191pp, paper, $11.95, ISBN 0-19-540506-4. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

A poet since the 1940s, and winner of the Governor General's Award for Poetry in 1954, P.K. Page is also an artist, using her married name of Irwin. Her dual career is represented here by over a hundred and thirty poems spanning the years to 1985. nine drawings, and two brief essays commenting on the relationship between writing and painting, and on her turning to art for a period of years when writing failed her: "the pen that had written was now, most surprisingly, drawing." In her poems the familiar becomes start-lingly fresh; nuns are "handless as seals" and snowshoes "two eyes of Horus/one above the other." The recollection of the Dutch Cleanser can of her childhood (on which the figure on the label held a can, with a smaller figure on its label, and so on) gives "A Backward Journey" powerful resonance, as the reader recognizes a similar childhood glimpse of infinity. Short poems like "Full Moon" are often fuelled by a tart humour: "I search all cupboards for my lunar topee/(and) dare the full moon. . ./in Mother Goddess guise/while left and right/my sober neighbours beat their wives and rave."

Page's drawings, intricate and maze-like, are used to separate the chronological groupings of poems, and a brilliantly colourful painting is used on the cover. A bountiful and handsome collection, and a priority purchase for the Canadian literature collection in high school and public libraries.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew C.I., Renfrew, Ont.
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