News for September, or, Stricken by Book Fever and the Pollen of New Ideas

Alas, Quill friends, I am stricken. As the end of August meanders away, leaving us with vague impressions of heat, humidity, and end-of-summer lassitude, September sneaks in quiet, demure—a bit chilly, it must be said—and smacks us directly in the nose. I find myself quite unable to defend myself, unequal to the task of avoiding the pollinated air.

But it isn’t the ragweed or hay fever that is causing my plight—it is a fever of an entirely different sort. It is a fever of enthusiasm, of anticipation, of excitement. Ladies and gentlemen, I have fallen prey to that malady that strikes me every fall. Book Fever.

doctor and patient

“What’s my prognosis, Doc?” “I’m afraid it’s a serious case of Book Fever. We can manage the symptoms with a heavy course of reading, but there is no cure.”

As the air cools and the days get shorter, publishing folk in North America close up their cottages and return to their desks to get down to the serious business of the fall season. The hottest new releases of the year are introduced in the fall. It is a season of big parties, fancy events and fascinating festivals. You’ll notice that we have quite a few of our own, and we hope you’ll join us during this time of excitement and activity.

The air is full with the pollen of new ideas, new voices, new styles. Breathe deep!


What’s happening this month…


As you might have noticed, the very first book of our Fall 2017 season is already available! You can pick up your copy of The Essential John Reibetanz today, in print and digital formats.

Next up is the fabulous and fascinating Pictographs, by James Simon AKA Mishibinijima. This book offers beautiful depictions of the legends of the Ojibway, reflecting on the forests of the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island and passing down the wisdom of its Elders. Look for it in print soon!

In Toronto.

If you live in the GTA, we’ve got a couple of great events on the books. First off, we’ll be at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto to take part in their biennial Small and Fine Press Fair. We’ll be joined by a host of cool, creative presses and artists, including Aliquando Press, BookThug, Coach House Books, Greyweathers Press, Pedlar Press, George A. Walker and more. Stop by on Saturday, September 9, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to say hello and find some bookish treasures.

Word on the Street Toronto

We’ll also be headed back to Toronto at the end of the month for Word on the Street. The ultimate book festival, Word on the Street hosts an incredible lineup of authors and artists as well as a massive marketplace for all things literary. Visit us at Harbourfront Centre to check out our newest releases.

In other news, Dysphoria author Shane Neilson will be at the Red Head Gallery on September 23, participating in the closing performance of Jack Butler’s art exhibition, Blindfold. The event takes place 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In London.

Neilson will also be in London for the Couplets Reading Series. He’ll be reading some of his heart-wrenching poems at The ARTS Project alongside Emma Croll-Baehre on September 21.

In Guelph.

The Guelph Black Heritage Society and the Ontario Public Interest Research Group will present Tony Miller, author-artist of Daddy Hall at a talk on Saturday, September 30. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., followed by a presentation and Q&A at 7:00 p.m.

In Ottawa.

Margaret Gracie will be on hand at Perfect Books in Ottawa to promote her book Plastic. Stop by for a meet-and-greet on September 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to pick up your copy and get it signed.

In Fredericton.

It’s that time of year again—time for UNB’s Poetry Weekend. PQL authors Shane Neilson, Jim Johnstone and M. Travis Lane will be participating in this year’s festivities from September 30 to October 1. It is surely an event not to be missed!

In Saint John.

Saint John, NB’s annual Fog Lit Festival will feature two PQL authors for double the fun! Catch Barbara Sibbald, author of The Museum of Possibilities, as she leads a workshop on the editing process on September 27. Don’t forget to stop by the Words & Wine event on September 28 to hear her read from her work. Then, stick around for Margaret Gracie, reading from her book, Plastic, at the Fog Lit Novel Tea event on September 29, followed by her short fiction workshop on September 30. Check out our events page for more information.

In the world.


Remember that September 8 is International Literacy Day. Help promote literacy in your community—read, volunteer, donate, and recognize that there are adults as well as children who could benefit from the power of the written word.

Fortune Cookie Day is September 13. Your fortune: There are many books in your future. Read and enjoy!

September 28 is Ask a Stupid Question Day. I’ve been saving up some doozies all year. Now I finally have an excuse to ask!


From the porcupette’s corner.


Hello world!

A post shared by The Porcupine’s Quill (@porcupinesquill) on

Today, I am very proud to announce that we have officially started a new social channel to interact with all of you wonderful Quill fans. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see some of our drool-worthy books in a format that does them justice. But be gentle—I’m still learning about this photography stuff, and about Instagram. Helpful tips and tricks are welcome!

Many thanks for stopping by to see what’s new at the Porcupine’s Quill this month. I hope to see you all at our upcoming events. Until then, keep reading!

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PQ Weekly Roundup: 01 Sep 2017

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.




Thanks for checking out this week’s roundup. If you ever have a great bookish link you think we should share, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at

Happy Friday!sig

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Pulled from the Pages: The Essential John Reibetanz

It’s tough to say what makes a classic. Is time the determining factor? Must thirty, forty, fifty years pass before an author’s work can be hailed as a classic? Or is it influence? Is it good reviews, accolades from peers, solid sales numbers?

In fact, I believe that a true classic takes into account many of these and none of these.  Most of all, I believe that a classic must capture a time, a place, a style in such a way as to make the work essential to understanding a certain type of literature.

In my opinion, The Essential John Reibetanz is, perhaps unsurprisingly, that type of book. One of the major themes in Canadian literature has always been place—the landscape, the weather, the isolation—but the flipside of that is what people do to overcome those harsh realities.

The poetry of John Reibetanz explores just that. His words demonstrate that family and community can be more than just accidents of birth and circumstance, and that identity is not always determined by one’s surroundings. Instead, family and community represent relationships that one decides to forge and to nurture as well as an opportunity for the creation of one’s own identity.

To me, The Essential John Reibetanz is a work that is at once fiercely intellectual and deeply personal. It transcends autobiographical poetry, elevating lived experience through imagery, syntax and diction to question, to find true meaning in personal experience. His poetry, then, is a vehicle of transformation—one that blazes through the pathways of memory and allows you access to the imaginary.

I highly recommend reading an excerpt (helpfully included below!) so that you can see the transformation for yourself!


Pulled from the Pages

Lewis Bolt, Farmer

A rat caught in a trap by the foot
Will gnaw it off for freedom, but
There are men who’ll no more part with
Their chains than with the air they breathe.
Watching them sickens me: they throw
Body and soul into making each furrow
Straight as a knifeblade, as if it mattered—
Would the harvest be less if the furrows wavered?
Look: Toby Green’s been fussing with that stretch
Of fence all day—he’s got to touch
And wind the wires just so, you’d think
He was tuning fiddle strings. No spunk—
His hands go fiddling his life away.
We were boys together, and Toby
Played all the games; my hours were ruled
And filled like ledger pages—my childhood
Knew discipline, and that has made
Me the man I am. Pride
You may call it, but I have built
This farm out of a muckheap: Bolt’s
Bog they called it, and thought me mad,
Throwing money hard come-by into the mud.
First I tackled the hedgerows—towering
Walls like a fortress, and you couldn’t bring
A plough near them with the bloody roots
Running thirty-five feet across. A few fights
Between them and a bulldozer upped the acreage.
Next came the barn, netted with age-
Old binder string wound around nails rusted
Brittle; incredible the space wasted
By that and the other rubbish I cleared.
Finally the hands: I paid more, and hired
The best in the district, but after a struggle—
The Eleventh Commandment was not to haggle
For wages, as if working on one farm bound
A man to it for life; they don’t understand
That work is just something to be done and paid for
And loyalty needn’t enter the picture.
My first harvest neared, and the road
Swarmed with neighbours’ cars; you could read
The thoughts behind their looks: was I steel,
Or would I give like soft metal?
A bit of a crash makes them feel less
Desperate about their own failures
And proves that a man who breaks with the old
Ways will never thrive. I did.
I have done well enough to buy my parents
Their own house, and give him an allowance
To do little chores. People ask if he
Minds—a daft question, really:
He is proud of me, and when you have spent
Your life sweating in the fields you want
To escape. It’s only in the fog of pub-talk
That people want the old days back.
You mustn’t get caught in a rut: now I’ve
Proved my worth here, I might move
On. Yes, I dream of the north:
Think of drawing a plough through earth
Hard as granite, to make it take
The shape you choose! I’ll crop that rock.


About the Author

John Reibetanz is a professor of English at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College as well as the author of ten collections of poetry, including Near Relations (McClelland & Stewart 2005), Transformations (Goose Lane, 2006) and Afloat (Brick Books, 2013). His poems have been featured in prominent publications such as Poetry, The Paris Review, Canadian Literature and The Malahat Review, among others. He lives in Toronto.


Hope you all enjoyed this peek at our latest poetry release. You can get your copy  in print or ebook format here on our website. Don’t forget to check out the other fantastic volumes in the Essential Poets series!

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PQ Weekly Roundup: 25 Aug 2017

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.




Nothing like a few good book links to kick off the weekend in style. Here’s to picking up a great new book to while away the weekend.


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Freebie Image Gallery: Summer Lovin’

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. Happily, the Devil’s Artisan, our very own Journal of the Printing Arts, offers an ever-expanding selection of free, high-resolution, downloadable dingbats, ornaments and fanciful initials for your printed and online projects.

Today, we’re featuring a gallery of beautiful vintage images that communicate the joys of the steamy, adventure-filled end-of-summer months.


I can remember fishing only once, as a child, in the Detroit River. I refused to bait my own hook, and needless to say, we did not eat anything we caught.

summer garden

I once aspired to green thumb-level greatness with a small vegetable garden. That is, until the blasted squirrels dug up all my tomato plants. The heartbreak is still fresh.

horse and gate

To my mind, every good summer camp experience should involve horseback riding at some point. This has not been my experience, but hey, a porcupette can dream.

hot-air balloon

I never understood the romance of the hot-air balloon. The threat of falling, the tight quarters, the pilot standing RIGHT THERE. But different strokes for different folks, I guess.

children playing

Children running around and playing together. How much more “summer nostalgia” can you get? Most remarkable? There’s not a cell phone in sight.


These are just some of the charming and wonderful images available over at the Dingbat Section of the Devil’s Artisan website. We’ve also got hundreds of typographic ornaments–headpieces, and tails and initials–as well as ‘other stuff’: insects and birds, fish and mammals, and oddities of various sorts. Visit today to browse this gallery of curiosities.


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 18 Aug 2017

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.




Hope you enjoyed this latest PQ Weekly Roundup. Have a wonderful weekend, Quill fans!


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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.