Remembering What’s Essential This Poetry Month

There’s no doubt about it—April has been a long month here in Ontario. Another lockdown, and its accompanying anxieties, have many of us hunkered down at home. I, probably like many of you, have taken solace in the essentials in life—personal (if virtual) connection, good food, a cozy place to call my own, and of course, the printed word.

Many readers are now discovering the power of poetry in communicating the maelstrom of feelings caused by living in uncertain times. They’re supporting local Canadian authors, small presses and bookstores, to ensure a continued place for literature in our lives. They’re discovering new favourites and appreciating old ones.

The Essential Travis Lane, tThe Essential Don Coles and the Essential James Reaney

Our very own Essential Poets series is one way of guiding your discovery of Canada’s poetic voices from the past. The series began as a way of preserving in print some of the more popular verses of esteemed poets without having to shoulder the task (physical and financial!) of reprinting much longer collections for which the audience was likely to be rather small. (Read about the origins of the series in PQL Publisher Tim Inkster’s blog post.) But despite its practical origins, the series has expanded well beyond the stable of poets PQL has published before, and it now features twenty-one volumes by a wide range of poets who together helped to define an era of Canadian verse. Some names (Earle Birney, P.K. Page) might be familiar to the poetry lovers among us, while others (Anne Wilkinson, Charles Bruce) have been sadly neglected in recent years considering their achievements and contributions.

We’ve made it easy to add these Essential Poets to your bookshelves with beautifully designed, affordable volumes that act as a useful primer to each poet’s work. We also offer a teaching guide to act as a model for how to use the Essential Poets series in the classroom.

We’re also open to working with editors who might want to pitch poets for inclusion in the series, particularly if the voices recommended are unique, diverse, and have affected the course of poetry in Canada.

For more information about the series, and to browse the volumes currently on offer, visit the Essential Poets page.


Thank you for stopping by to learn about this growing series. We hope you find a volume or two to add to your collection!

Happy (poetry) reading,


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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.