Basking in Bookish Splendour, or, News for September at PQL

Every book lover has a literary locale that particularly inspires and delights. It’s a happy place, one where it is possible to breathe in the smells of ink and paper and feel galvanized to write, to study, or just to read. Walking in, one experiences a frisson of excitement, a thrill of being in a place that speaks to the deepest roots of one’s love of the written word. For me, that place is (so far!) the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

interior of Fisher Library

The library houses the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Toronto. From the outside, I’ll admit, it’s not much to look at.  A Brutalist protuberance from the Robarts Library, it is essentially a concrete bunker meant to protect the valuable books therein. But inside! Not only is it visually stunning, it also houses a number of books that would impress many an avid reader. The collection includes Shakespeare’s First Folio, annotated proof sheets of some of Charles Darwin’s works, a rather good Lewis Carroll collection, as well as archival papers from Canadian literary luminaries like Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. I find it particularly of interest that they hold an extensive collection of Canadian small and fine press materials. Basically, for a porcupette who basically lives for all things books, it’s an environment designed to set my book loving heart a-racing.

Is it any wonder that one of my favourite events is the Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair? Held biennially, it usually occurs the first Saturday after Labour Day, and it hosts a variety of printmakers, small presses and book artists in the reading room of the library. The pandemic kept us away for longer than any of us would have liked, but I’m pleased to say that we were able to attend this favourite event this past weekend.

Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair

We did some brisk business, and were especially pleased to offer audiences hot-off-the-press copies of Wesley W. Bates’s Out of the Dark, as well as other new releases such as C. I. Matthews’s Took You So Long.  But most of all, it was a joy to meet with the like-minded vendors, to visit with friends new and old and to meet with all the wonderful Toronto-based authors, readers, and followers of social media accounts!

The Razor's Edge, Took You So Long and Out of the Dark

Many thanks to all who took the time to stop by, say hello, and add a book or two to their own private collections.

What’s happening this month?


Out of the Dark

First copies of Out of the Dark are available to purchase, but we’re still working on binding and trimming the rest of the print run. Once that task is complete, we’ll be looking to work on production of the first of the Fall 2022 titles, not to mention getting the upcoming issue of the Devil’s Artisan ready to go. No rest for the weary!

In Walkerton.

Took You So Long

C. I. Matthews will be reading from her debut collection, Took You So Long, as part of the Victoria Jubilee Hall’s 125th anniversary celebration. Her reading will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 17th.

In Windsor.

Karl Jirgens will be taking part in an event at Biblioasis Bookstore in Windsor on September 28. He’ll be reading from his book of short stories The Razor’s Edge. Also reading will be G.A. Grisenthwaite, from his book Home Waltz. There will be refreshments and a signing, so mark your calendars!

In Oakville.

The stupendous Howard Iron Works Printing Museum (another place to bask in printing-related inspiration) will be holding a print expo and fair on October 1. We’ll be there with a selection of PQL books, and if that’s not enough to convince you, the expo will also feature workshops, demos, tours and hands-on printing experiences.

From the porcupette’s corner.

After all these years, you’d think I’d have the hang of this tipsheet thing, right?

scholar sitting at writing desk and gazing out the window
Me, attempting (with limited success) to come up with words that make sense.

For some reason, this season’s product descriptions have been a bit trickier than usual. I’m usually pretty proud of my efforts at distilling each book into a few pithy paragraphs designed to intrigue and entice, but this time around I struggled to meet the usual PQL standards. Luckily, the authors had my back and were able to provide some suggestions, and our fearless leader, Tim, definitely put in the time to help polish those descriptions to a brighter shine. Here’s hoping the struggle was a fluke and that the next round is less stressful!

Up next, I’ll be tackling some new editing projects. I’m particularly looking forward to diving into a new satirical novel, but I’m also happy add a bit of commentary to some short story collections coming down the pipe. Wish me luck!


Thanks for stopping by our humble blog to see what is new with us here at the Porcupine’s Quill. We hope you’re able to come out to one of our many upcoming events!



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5 Responses to Basking in Bookish Splendour, or, News for September at PQL

  1. Ross says:

    It was lovely to catch up a bit with you and Tim and Elke. Next year I’m going to ask a librarian to fetch me one of those rare books up there!

  2. Peter Grinbergs says:

    What range of books do you prefer as you determine publishing prospects?

    • Steph says:

      We are open to literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and we particularly enjoy books that exist at the intersection of literature and other creative art forms. A look at our recent publications should help give a sense. (Some examples–stories about artists, memoirs about music, non-fiction about the theatre, collections of wood engravings, poetry illustrated with art and so on.)

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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.