In Which the Porcupette Advocates the Improvement of the Mind by Extensive Reading, and other News for June at PQL

As I write this morning, the sun is streaming through my office windows, accompanied by the intermittent lilt of birdsong, but to this quiet suburban landscape, one must add the occasional belching bruit of massive flatbed trucks. This spring has seen an unprecedented number of the beasts, carrying top soil, mulch, lumber and sundry building supplies down the narrow streets of my quiet neighbourhood, no doubt for the betterment of nearby yards, and I am reminded of the promise of spring as a time of improvement.

two birds sitting in a leafy tree
Birdsong is idyllic and charming for approximately 6.5 seconds, after which it becomes a miserable annoyance, particularly if it occurs a) between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. or b) while I’m trying to concentrate.

With social distancing still in effect, it is little wonder that, forced to hunker down in their houses, homeowners everywhere have decided to roll up their sleeves and tackle those home improvement projects left to languish. But it’s not just home improvement seeing a rise in popularity right now. Several of my friends have turned their focus inward, teaching themselves to cook or to sew. The inability to acquire flour in the grocery store is evidence enough of the public’s interest in baking. For weeks, my Facebook feed was clogged with ads for online classes, and with exhortations to create.

I have dabbled a bit in all of these varied pursuits. I’ve spent time in the yard and I’ve spent money on some home improvements. I’ve made the life-changing discovery of warm, home-baked cheddar-dill bread. I’ve been teaching a class online for good measure, which represents a learning curve for myself as much as for my students. But could any porcupette be satisfied with these alone? As Jane Austen famously wrote in Pride in Prejudice, “to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

In these days of improvement, I’ve tried to read a few books outside of my comfort zone, to discover new genres and authors and series. In doing so, I feel as if I’ve managed to eek out a little productivity. Even books I haven’t enjoyed overmuch are a triumph insofar as they’ve expanded not only my literary knowledge, but also my familiarity with my own literary tastes.

If that’s not improvement, I don’t know what is!

What’s happening this month…


Subscribers to our journal of the printing arts, the Devil’s Artisan, will be seeing the latest issue very soon if they do not already have their copies in hand. With that checked off our production list, we will be dispensing with a considerable amount of fiscal year-end paperwork before moving on to production of the rest of our spring 2020 titles. As a special treat, we have released another free digital chapbook for your literary pleasure—this time a specimen book of Dingbats, Ornaments & Fanciful Initials.

In the World.

June 10 is Ballpoint Pen Day. I think we should all pay homage to this marvellous office staple (see what I did there?) by pulling our fingers away from the keyboard and taking a few notes by hand. Let’s all compare our shockingly unpractised handwriting! It’ll be fun!

June 18 is International Panic Day, which honestly seems a bit de trop considering the global situation.

Panicked man climbing tree to escape bull
This little image is appropriately titled “panic” and I found it too delightful not to include for your amusement.

June 29 is Hug Day. Also potentially inadvisable right now. This porcupette must subsist on virtual hugs, alas!

From the porcupette’s corner.

It’s been a busy, noisy, dusty month here at Porcupette HQ, with aforementioned home improvements and teaching duties proving to be quite a distraction from the usual business. But I have been enjoying the lovely weather, the ability to take my books out of doors and the opportunity to mould the eager young mind of future publishers. I’ve also been hard at work on some editing for the fall—it’s demanding to dive so deeply into an author’s words, but it certainly provides an escape from the present days!


Here’s to hoping that you have found opportunities to keep your mind sharp and your spirits high this lockdown.


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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.