PQ Weekly Roundup: 18 Oct 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


Congratulations, you’ve made it to Friday! May your weekend be filled with books and lots of uninterrupted reading time.

All the best,

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Pulled from the Pages: The Essential Kay Smith

Have you ever discovered a book or an author that kind of feels like a secret? Perhaps they’re a relative unknown, located away from common literary circles, a little obscure in choice of theme. When you find this author’s work it’s the best kind of surprise. I always enjoy best those books I don’t expect.

Kay Smith is that kind of surprise author. Though she had a few famous friends (Miller Brittain and P. K. Page anyone?) there isn’t a lot known about her and her life. Even the process of finding a photograph of Kay Smith can be fraught with difficulty as she had no children and wasn’t one for the limelight.

Perhaps this quiet legacy is not surprising given the focus of her writing—her faith, and her profound belief in the purity and wonder of imagination. Kay Smith’s poems are intelligent, sophisticated, and at times surprising in the way she combines all the devices available in her literary toolkit. Who wouldn’t want to discover a nice surprise like that?

Keep reading for an exclusive excerpt from the just-published collection The Essential Kay Smith.


Pegasus and Swan

On sky as polished as a shell,
Two clouds in profile, motionless;
One, a plumy Pegasus;
A swan, the other, beautiful
As no earthly sculpture is,
Gifted with motion like a gull,
As if to fly, as if to sail,
On brink of metamorphosis.

They pause, considering the change
To other symbols, other forms
With which the burning fancy swarms
When given liberty to range,
Yet with that liberty remain
A winged horse without a rider,
A marble swan so fair a glider,
No hand could ever coax or rein.

Meanwhile, fashioned for reflection,
We wait, the summer sea and I,
To faithfully record the sky,
Each pearly tone, each cool inflection,
And shaken with the poet’s rage,
And shaded by the wing of death,
I strive with every darkening breath
To lure these shiners to my page.


That Something May Be Found

That something may be found I make a poem.

I break from the shell of habit, my home,
leaving fear, the old crone, nodding by the cold ashes.

Near the door Eyes compel so large and clear
a walking out that clothed simply in being
I try to deserve the white lashes of the daisy,
the tapering body of grass in the wind,
and stones washed in sunlight.

That the secret may be found I become a hunter
in a poem, seeking the lost child who followed
the moonlight into the wood.

In the wood and in the waste places under
a half-moon we are very wonderful,
curved like a bow over being ourselves and alone,
moving when we move like a half-moon.

That something may be found I make a poem.


PortraitHope you enjoyed this peek inside the pages of The Essential Kay Smith. If you liked it, we hope you’ll pick up a copy. Plus, don’t forget to check out the other great titles in the Essential Poets series.Steph

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PQ Weekly Roundup: 11 Oct 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


Happy long weekend, Quill friends! We hope you enjoy your Canadian Thanksgiving. Maybe spend a little of that extra time … reading?


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Seasonally-Induced Rise-and-Shininess from the Porcupette, or, News for October at the Porcupine’s Quill

I have been waking up in the most unbelievably good mood all week. This is bizarre given the fact that my normal wake-up routine involves jolting awake to my alarm, clumsily making my bed—in the dark, mind you—as an early-morning “win”, stumbling down the stairs and turning on the Today Show, and, finally … falling asleep on the couch. Eventually I manage to pull myself out of my stupor to make coffee and breakfast and get to work, but the point is, I’m not at all a morning person.

bird in a nest

With the recent cold snaps happening, it’s officially time to get cozy, like this nesting bird, who looks comfy, but for the look in its eye, which might be an avian anxiety surrounding Thanksgiving.

Which makes my recent rise-and-shininess something of an oddity. These last few mornings, as I sit ensconced on the couch, wrapped in a snuggly blanket and sipping a coffee, I’ve been struck with glee over just how positively autumnal it is becoming.

Do I always forget, in early October, that Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up soon? Yes, yes, I do. But the harvest décor cropping up everywhere, though not something in which I myself would invest, still imparts a little frisson of excitement. Do I enjoy Halloween? Not even a little bit. But I’ve been getting an undeniable little trill thinking about little trick or treaters ringing my doorbell in a few weeks. Do I scoff at the fact that stores are already selling advent calendars and Elf on the Shelf and other Christmas décor? Absolutely, I do. Am I also mentally planning a Christmas movie marathon in the back of my mind? You bet your seasonally-appropriate boots I am.

I guess I’m just all for cozy season, for weather-induced homebodiness, for warding off the chill with that hallowed book-and-blanket combo. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that new fall books are dropping all the time like brightly coloured leaves from overburdened trees.

Let’s gather them up, and dive in shall we?


What’s happening this month?


This month, we’re setting our sights on printing the latest in the Essential Poets series—The Essential Kay Smith, selected by Michael Oliver. Smith’s poetry examines the purity and wonder of the imagination, demonstrating a sophisticated blend of figurative language, surprising diction and her own unique poetic mythology. This slim volume would be a great addition to any poetry library!

Across Ontario.

Naming the Shadow’s author Sharon Berg’s reading tour of Ontario is officially underway! She is currently in the middle of her week-long tenure as a Writer in Residence at Cardiff House, which includes an upcoming writing work and shop manuscript consultation, and which culminates in the Word Is Wild Literary Festival in Cardiff.

Tonight, October 8, she’ll be reading at Novel Idea in Kingston from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with Elizabeth Greene (The Dowager Empress, Inanna).

Later this month, Sharon will take part in the Oakville Literary Café Reading Series (Sunday, October 20), a reading at the Alvinston Library (Tuesday, October 22) and in the Urban Folk Art Salon at the Mount Pleasant Library in Toronto (Thursday, October 24). For more information on these awesome events, visit our events page.

In the world.

October 12 is Cookbook Launch Day. Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

astronomer looking through telescope

Let’s not look too closely, eh?

October 19 is Evaluate Your Life Day. This sounds ominous and/or potentially traumatizing. Proceed with caution, Quill fans.

October 25 is Frankenstein Friday, celebrating Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley’s literary masterpiece. A perfect literary holiday to celebrate in the lead-up to Halloween.


From the porcupette’s corner.

old presses at Howard Iron Works

I defy any book lover to not be utterly fascinated by the sheer wealth of print history hanging out in the Howard Iron Works Museum. Photo credit: Don McLeod

September was a crazy month! With so many fantastic festivals and book fairs to attend, I was all in a tizzy travelling to and from Toronto to take part in the festivities. With such highlights as lunch at The Pearl, soaking in the atmosphere at the Fisher Rare Book Library, and getting to learn all about printing presses of all sorts at Howard Iron Works, I felt like the whole month was one giant gift to this book-obsessed porcupette.

Of course, there was work to be completed as well. Tipsheets are officially done, so now I’m just looking forward to sales conference before the Spring 2020 season preparation is officially underway. What does that mean? It means I’ll be happily buried in edits for two upcoming collections.

In the meantime, I’m busily coding up one of our fall titles for typesetting. Coding tends to be one of my favourite tasks because it allows me to do a different kind of problem solving in order to make sure I tag all the words that need to be italicized for example, and that I input all the correct codes to deal with accented characters and so on. I find particular pleasure in coming up with just the right regular expression—an advanced method of find-and-replace—to make my coding more efficient and accurate.

I am a nerd. This is not news!


Hope you enjoyed this little update. Catch you next time right here on the PQL blog.


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 04 Oct 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.


Thanks for checking in on our bookish links this week. We hope you have a wonderful weekend enjoying this fall weather. May we suggest cuddling up with a book?

Happy Friday,

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Out and About with the Quill: The Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Fair 2019

Howard Iron Works sign

Photo credit: Don McLeod

I was about as excited as a porcupette could be this past weekend. Why, you ask? Because I finally got my chance to visit the Howard Iron Works Museum in Oakville, for the organization’s second annual Print Expo & fair. I’ve heard amazing things about this Wonderland for printers, and I’ve been teased by the lovely pictures I’ve seen of all the historical machinery.

old presses at Howard Iron Works

Photo credit: Don McLeod

I was not disappointed. They had most every type of machine you could think of (and many more you probably couldn’t), as well as an assortment of tools of the trade. The HIW staff and knowledgeable printers from the community even demonstrated some of presses, which was truly impressive given the age of some of the machines!

Linotype and other similar machines at Howard Iron Works

Photo credit: Don McLeod

The smell of ink permeated the large museum area, with a faint whiff of the melting metal in the pot of the Linotype machine drifting by early in the day. There was a steady hum of interested voices, punctuated by the occasional drone of machinery as a new demonstration began. Samples of printed work abounded, and you couldn’t go a minute without seeing a wet print, held carefully pinched between two fingers as it dried.

presses at Howard Iron Works

Photo credit: Don McLeod

Quill friend George A. Walker demonstrated the intimidating-looking Linotype machine in the morning—a particular treat for lucky early attendees since he set their names in a “line of type” and printed very cute personalized certificates.

George A. Walker at the Linotype

Photo credit: Don McLeod

George A. Walker using a proof press to print lines of type from the Linotype machine

Photo credit: Don McLeod

Beyond the museum was the exhibitor marketplace, chock full of interesting prints, papers, cards and other ephemera. There were too many exhibitors to talk about them all, but here are a few you might be interested in discovering….


Felton Bookbinding

My first stop was to Felton Bookbinding. The table featured a truly massive and beautifully restored family bible—alongside the “before” picture, which definitely showed how much work had to go into bringing the tome back to its former lustre. Also featured on the table were a preponderance of custom bound golf books (apparently golfers are big into collectible books) and my personal favourite: a volume that not only had beautiful gilding along the pages, but also a fantastic foredge painting. (If you haven’t seen something like that before, take a look at this image on their website!)



Any Key Press

Any Key Press table

My next stop was to meet Alissa at Any Key Press. Her table featured a number of postcards, coasters, stickers and greeting cards, many of which featured old prints of famous buildings in the GTA, salvaged from a catalogue printed for the Toronto centennial. Alissa is quite the historian, and very friendly, so I got a great little intro to her work and the sources for her material. My favourite at the table? The type specimen prints, which appealed to my inner type nerd.



Pomegranate Letterpress

Pomegranate Letterpress table

Over at Pomegranate Letterpress’s table, I met the charming Margot, who let me poke through their interesting prints (including some funny sweary ones). There is a signature style that you’ll notice right away in all their prints—bold, bright, and with a vintage feel. Also available were notebooks—coptic stitched ones, and some adorable felt travel journals—and, the surprise bestseller for the day: cute little notebooks with printed initials, selling for a dollar!



Japanese Paper Place

Next I met Paula at the Japanese Paper Place’s table, where I got a short lesson about Japanese paper. The katazome, I learned, is a type of bright and beautiful stencilled paper whereas the chiyogami is screen-printed, with a variety of colours and many with gold accents. (Both are works of art in and of themselves. Seriously—you could Frame them!) I thought it was brilliant to see small sets of an assortment of different papers—I bet they are particularly helpful for beginners as they provide an opportunity to test out artistic ideas and see which paper best suits the needs of the project.



Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum

My last stop in the exhibitor area was the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, which bills itself as “the best hands-on museum in Upper Canada”. I’m told that they print everything themselves (except their brochures). Their oldest press is an English common press circa 1760—called The Louis Roy Press—came from London, while the newest press they own 1976 Heidelberg windmill. The passion for printing is clear, and if you’re in the area it would be well worth a trip to Queenston to see the place!



type cases at Howard Iron Works


PortraitAll in all, the Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Fair was a lovely (if somewhat rainy) day filled with ink, paper, and printing machines. If you have an interest in the history of print, you must visit to this magical place … one might even say … case closed!


P.S. Many thanks to Don McLeod for providing many of the beautiful pictures used in this post!

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.