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April 21, 2010

The Essential P.K. Page

I’ve been reading such beautifully-made books this last while, The Essential P.K. Page among them. The poems have been selected from the span of Page’s career and are here placed in alphabetical order, for (as the editors remark) “There is not a ‘young’ voice and a ‘mature’ voice. For [Page], time is not linear and she places little value on such distinctions”. The effect of this is fascinating, something like a catalogue, something vaguely like taxonomy. The structure of this collection and Page’s work itself called to mind what poet Michael Lista referred to as poetry that is “set within the strict—and ancient— clockwork of the world”.

In fact, Lista’s approach seems less original (or less unoriginal?) when viewed in light of Page’s oeuvre. In her work, she engages with works of art (unsurprising, as she was a painter), other works of literature– with her glosa poems in particular. She plays with language (and not only English) for the sake of itself. Some of the poems are challenging, because they refer to ideas outside my familiar realm (what is an arras?) but that is my problem, and not the poems’. Page’s approach seems to be to take the concrete stuff of the universe, and spin it into something golden. The breadth of her vision is truly amazing.

Read the incredible “soft travellers” here. “that there is worth/ in orthography and there is worth/ in geography as well — for words, that is/ words correctly spelled have, in truth, /destinations…”


The very stars are justified.
The galaxy

I have proofread
and proofread
the beautiful script.

There are no

P.K. Page

One thought on “The Essential P.K. Page”

  1. Melwyk says:

    I loved this book. So beautiful, her enormous skill and her vision. The particular poem you shared is one I really enjoyed.

    I was so taken with the glosas – a form I didn’t know before, and so I went on to read Page’s “Coal & Roses”, a collection of her glosas. Great book!

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