Pulled from the Pages: The Essential Dorothy Roberts

Anyone who’s ever gone away to school or moved across the country knows the feeling of homesickness, whether it’s the slight, fleeting feeling of nostalgia for the familiar environs of your childhood or the bone-deep longing for the place you once called home. For Dorothy Roberts, I sort of think it was the latter.

The Essential Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts was born in New Brunswick, and though she spent much of her life living in the United States, she never forgot the beauty and sense of belonging that she felt in her native land. In The Essential Dorothy Roberts, selected by Brian Bartlett, her poetry is unsurprisingly rife with her impressions of the landscape she called home, but most interesting for me is the way in which themes of memory and the passage of time blend together with this preoccupation with the natural world to create a feeling of great fondness and nostalgia. To me it is a very Canadian concern, and it reveals the deep roots we Canadians feel even when we venture abroad.

I find Roberts’ poetry to be of the quietly powerful sort. Her concerns are not overly lofty. You don’t need to keep a dictionary next to you to get the full meaning of her work. Reading this book was a very introspective experience for me, and I hope that you’ll find the same.

Read on for an excerpt that will be sure to pique your interest!


Excerpt from the Book


My sister and I when we were close together
Clear to each other
Used to slide down beneath the river surface
And in a twist of current see the race
Of water break us from our sunny grace.

Wavering, shattered, glimmering each saw
No happy girl she knew
But underwater strangeness, shift and flaw,
Until the bubbles of our laughter drew
Us bursting up to the air.

Then we lay bare
And sure and shapely in each other’s eyes—
We who no more to certainty can rise

But caught submerged in current of the years
See, wavering, each a shape that never clears.


Moon Piece

A piece of the moon sits on a pedestal
and turns around to our gaze as the moon never has
in the blaze of light upon it to make it ours—
this silvery fist-sized portion of the ultimate moon,
a kind of anchor to pull it out of its usual position,
heavy, they say, though you can’t tell with the glass on.

We are now the more ethereal and the moon less so
except that she leaves what we have in our hands and goes on
rolling around in our conception of how she should be
shining profound over the nature of the city
and over the country—we are used to ourselves in her distance,
it is almost as though the fingers had slipped.

The moon still trusts only what is left
and moves about our earth at her due distance
and says she’d rather be visited by a silvery path
she lets down over the fields heavily frosted.

And the piece remains a bit withdrawn in its closeness
a bit frosty and alone on its turning pedestal
a bit sophisticated and lost for the gaze of children.

So each goes differently on its own course
with components more than we knew hitherto, perhaps
a waiting wealth of moon for a cold night.


PortraitSo, what do you think? Adding it to your to-read list yet? If so, you can get your copy here. And don’t forget—if you like this book, consider checking out the rest of the Essential Poets series to add to your collection!


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 23 Mar 2018

pqroundup2Every 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.



There is an excellent crop of book links this week, if I do say so myself.

Happy Reading,sig

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Freebie Image Gallery: Happy First Day of Spring

It’s trite but true: a picture is worth a thousand words. In our emoticon-spouting, animated GIF meme-ing, Facebook-loving times, we communicate, more and more, through images. The Freebie Image Gallery features high-resolution images available through Devil’s Artisan, our very own Journal of the Printing Arts. DA’s Dingbats Section offers an ever-expanding selection of free, high-resolution, downloadable dingbats, ornaments and fanciful initials for your printed and online projects.

Today’s freebie image gallery features a lovely collection of spring-themed images. Use them to liven up your print and digital designs, or use them at home–they make great wall art. Keep scrolling to see the selection.

garden whimsey

There’s nothing like a little garden whimsey to get you in the mood for the season.

hare and frogs

The Easter season is coming soon, which means we’ll see more bunnies hopping around the advertising world…

rose bush

Aren’t you looking forward to seeing the lovely flowering bushes in your neighbourhood bloom?

spring chicken

I’m not quite sure where the expression “spring chicken” comes from, but this is a pretty handsome specimen of one, in my opinion.

spring birds in tree

Nothing says spring like birds sitting in a tree and singing their little lungs out. Whether you consider this to be an adorable symphony or an annoying wake-up call is totally up to you.

hot air balloon

And finally, what’s spring without a little adventure. Don’t you think a hot air balloon ride would be thrilling?


PortraitI hope you find lots of interesting and innovative ways to use these images in your designs. These and many more are available at the Devil’s Artisan website. Click on the images above or browse the DA website for print-quality versions.


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 16 Mar 2018

pqroundup2Every 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.



Since I was away at AWP last week, today, you get the top-notch bookish links for the past two weeks, bundled here for your perusal. Hope you enjoy!

Happy Friday,sig

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Out and About with the Quill: AWP 2018 Book Fair

There’s nothing like a book fair to get your literary juices flowing. There are so many interesting books around, not to mention writers and publishers to talk to! So naturally, I felt like I was among my people at this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs Book Fair, held March 8-10 in Tampa, Florida. Here are some photographs of the event for you to enjoy, whether you missed the event or were there to see the sights.

palm trees

First of all, the event was in Florida, so I definitely enjoyed escaping the cold to venture into a land of blue skies and palm trees.

Tampa Convention Centre

As you approach the Tampa Convention Centre, you not only get a great view, but also a sense of the excitement that awaits.

Tampa Convention Center

On the first day the book fair, I arrived bright and early at 8:00 a.m. to check in and get set up.

Interior Tampa Convention Center

The convention was a bit of a ghost town first thing in the morning, but the lack of a crowd did give me a chance to peek at the books on display.

PQL table at AWP

I wasted no time in getting our table set up to display our lovely PSL books.

Bookseller's-eye view

A bookseller’s-eye view…

AWP attendees

At 9:00 a.m., attendees started to trickle in for a full day of bookish chatting!


And with that, I put away my camera and enjoyed soaking in the literary atmosphere.

PortraitIt was wonderful to meet all the writers and readers who attended the fair. I was particularly tickled to see people who remembered me from the Detroit Book Fest, and Printer’s Row in Chicago. Here’s hoping we meet again soon!


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Expectations, Reality, and a Few Surprises During the Month of March at PQL

I’ve been thinking about expectations lately, and let me tell you why.

We are all pretty familiar with the expression “in like a lion, out like a lamb” to describe the weather in March. So we expect snow squalls and frigid temperatures at the beginning of the month because we know that a thaw will eventually arrive.

First some context. The other day, it was gorgeous outside. I mean, there was not even the wispiest of clouds in the sky. The sun was shining pleasantly. It was so warm I sat out on the front porch in a light sweater, sipping coffee and drinking in the rays of the sun like a thirsty fern.

The next day it snowed a solid several inches.

Surprised reader.

What. The heck. Just happened?

My expectations for the month of March and the way weather patterns are supposed to work were completely subverted. For a few minutes, I was, it must be said, unaccountably grumpy that my spring-like idyll had ended. But then I noticed the giant chunks of snowflakes drifting down peacefully. It was like a postcard of winter, and it was all the more miraculous for occurring a day after sixty degree weather. (But that’s global warming for you.)

I’ve found that sometimes this subversion of expectations happens when reading, too. You pick up a book thinking the plot will go a certain way, or a character will make a certain decision and then … it doesn’t and they don’t. When that happens to me, I find myself angry for a split second, and sometimes even tempted to give it up as a bad job and close the book. But then I realize that I’m being an arrogant chump—that my way isn’t always (or even often) the best way and that it is both difficult and immensely rewarding to put my trust in an author and to let go and experience an imaginary adventure.

Expectations are all well and good when it comes to books and reading, but surprises are so much more delicious.


What’s happening this month?


As we get closer and closer to the tentative warmth of spring, we’re also getting closer and closer to publishing the first of our Spring 2018 books! Look for the latest addition to our Essential Poets series, The Essential Dorothy Roberts, in the coming weeks.

In Tampa, FL.

Association of Writers & Writing Programs Logo

I’m stoked to be attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Bookfair in sunny Tampa, Florida! If you’re in the area, stop by the Tampa Convention Center to pick up some beautiful PQL books to add to your collection.

On the Air.

John Reibetanz and Jeffery Donaldson will be chatting with Christine Cowley about The Essential John Reibetanz on Hunters Bay Radio’s Storylines. Tune in online or on the airwaves on Saturday March 24 at 8:00 a.m., or Wednesday March 28 at 11:00 p.m., depending on whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.

In Toronto.

The 10th annual Battle of the Bards is going down on Wednesday, March 28 at Harbourfront Centre. The poetry competition will feature live readings by 20 poets, duking it out in verse for a coveted spot at the International Festival of Authors. The lineup will be announced soon, so check their website for details.

In the World.

March 8 is International Women’s Day—celebrate the cultural, economic and political achievements of the women in your life!

Also coming up is Everything You Do Is Right Day on March 15. But … if everything YOU do is right, and everything I do is right, but we both disagree … what happens? That’s some Inception stuff right there.

And March 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. The power is in your hands. Be creative. Be merciful. And tell us all about it.


From the porcupette’s corner.

Rising balloon

Sometimes, and not for lack of trying, my product descriptions go over like … well, a lead balloon.

They’re baaaaack. That’s right, March means TIP sheet time! Those glorious little documents detailing our Fall 2018 new releases are all typed up and just about ready to go. I am so excited! Can you believe I get paid to read manuscripts before they’re published? And that I get to think about how to communicate my enthusiasm for said books to all you fine folks. This season, my product descriptions seemed to go over fairly well, which is heartening, because sometimes they really, really don’t. It can take a lot of negotiation to arrive at the final draft. But this time around, it was refreshing to feel like I’m on the same page as our crop of authors—hopefully that bodes well for the new season!

Now, I’ll stop torturing you with vaguely complimentary accounts of so-far secret books. But not to worry—I’ll be letting you in on the secret real soon. Once I’m back from the AWP Bookfair in Tampa, I’ll be tackling the task of putting those new books on the website for your perusal.


PortraitThanks for stopping by to see what’s up with us at the Porcupine’s Quill. If you’re ever curious about what goes on behind the scenes, drop me a line. Maybe you’ll inspire next month’s newsletter!


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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.