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P.K. Page is the author of more than a dozen books, including poetry, a novel, short stories, essays and books for children. Awarded a Governor General’s Award for poetry (The Metal and the Flower) in 1954, Page was also on the shortlist for the Griffin Poetry Prize (Planet Earth) in 2003 and awarded the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary excellence in 2004. P.K. Page died in January 2010.

Coal and Roses

The Porcupine's Quill
2010 Shortlist
Canada
Shortlisted in:

Judges’ Citation

How heartening to be reminded that creativity, zest and curiosity can endure, even flourish, into great old age. Coal and Roses is wholly unusual and possibly unique.

Though we were not to know it, Coal and Roses was the last book [of poetry] to be published by P.K. Page, appearing months before her death at the age of 93. Therefore it marks the close of a long and creative life. How heartening to be reminded that creativity, zest and curiosity can endure, even flourish, into great old age. Coal and Roses is wholly unusual and possibly unique. It’s a collection of 21 glosas – a glosa being an intricate difficult form. Each poem begins with four lines from another poet – Anna Akhmatova, Thom Gunn, Zbigniew Herbert and Ted Hughes all feature – and those four lines are then spun and meditated upon by Page herself, to form a new poem, where every stanza closes with a line from the master. The result is a history of poetry, a kind of memoir and a homage from one nearing life’s end, to her forebears and colleagues. It is a fully achieved project, which does what literature does best – abolishes the borders of life and death, time and culture and language, and sets all in a great conversation.