Punching through the Existential Dread with the Power of Poetry, or, News for April at the Porcupine’s Quill

If I’m going to be homebound for the foreseeable future, I might as well be productive, and what better way to be productive during a pandemic than to self-isolate with a book or ten? I’m mildly surprised that I haven’t managed to plough through a shelf’s worth of titles this last few weeks, but on the bright side, I think I’ve done a creditable job making a dent in my to-read list.

For me, reading feels like an accomplishment when it’s a daily battle to accomplish anything, like a win when life feels devoid of winners, like an escape when so many of us feel cooped up and in desperate need of one. I know that others have experienced the opposite effect. With so much distraction in the form of anxiety and existential dread permeating our lives, not to mention the unrelenting pace of the news, it can be difficult to work up the gumption to start a new novel. But if you can’t clear your mind enough to make room for a longer story, perhaps you might consider a poem.


This is a public service announcement: April is National Poetry Month. In light of this news, we suggest that poetry reading ought to commence immediately. Across the nation. Hop to. That is all.

It’s easy to forget that April is National Poetry Month, and if you have forgotten, you’re not alone. But in my opinion, there couldn’t be a better time to celebrate the power of poetry. Poetry, with its ability to distil emotion in evocative and even surprising ways, offers many pleasures. Whether you write to examine your own feelings or read for insight and enjoyment, there is a certain measure of calm to be found when we indulge in the beauty of the poetic form. Furthermore, when your patience is frayed and your focus split between responsibilities and distractions, poetry can offer a brief escape.

If you’d like to up the beauty quotient, I recommend checking out our selection of free printable broadsides in our eStore. In celebration of National Poetry Month, PQL’s design guru, Tim Inkster, has put together a beautiful broadside of P. C. Vandall’s “Ode to a Poem” from her collection The Blue Moth of Morning. This poem reminds us of the elusive power of poetry—and of the humour and solace we can find in the form.

Ode to a Poem by P. C. Vandall - a broadside

This month, whether you dive headfirst into a novel or turn to the short, evocative burst that is the hallmark of a good poem, I hope you’re able to find a little comfort and inspiration in the written word, whatever form it takes.


What’s happening this month


We’re all staying close to home this month, so there won’t be any exciting events or launches in the near future. But not to fear—we’re still keeping busy. The first few of our Spring 2020 books have been delayed, but we are still working on slowly printing one, and putting the finishing pre-press touches on two others. You can read two spring titles in ebook form already: The Blue Moth of Morning by P. C. Vandall and Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era by George A. Walker are available for download in our eStore. (We’ll let you know when print versions are available.)

In the world.

April 12th is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. This ooey gooey sandwich makes for some pretty great comfort food. And we can all use a bit of comfort right now!

April 15th is That Sucks Day. This one is pretty self-explanatory and somewhat disturbingly a propos. Let out your angst on That Sucks Day so you can move on.

Finally, April 28 is Great Poetry Reading Day. This is definitely a holiday we can get behind! Be sure to consult those free broadsides we mentioned if you need a recommendation.


From the porcupette’s corner.

I will confess to some frayed nerves and lapsing concentration myself over these last few weeks. Though my daily routine has changed little, it can be difficult to find the focus required to complete the bigger, more involved tasks on my desk.

On the bright side, I’ve had some great fun doing a little bit of website work. Granted there was a bit of a blunder on my part, resulting in a panic email to our system admin, who then had to wade through backups to undo my stupidity.

Angry man punishing boy

“Bad Steph! You know better!” (Is what I was expecting to hear. But no, sysadmin was super nice about the whole thing so it was just me beating myself up.)

I learned my lesson, let me tell you. But once that mess was sorted out, it was fun to focus on something a little more technical for a change. Fiddling with code can become wonderfully consuming, and there’s great satisfaction to be had when a page comes together nicely. As a palate cleanser, I heartily recommend a little HTML if you’re keen!


PortraitThank you so much for taking the time to check in with our humble little blog, despite the demands on your time and attention.

Keep well and keep reading,Steph

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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.