Writing about P.K. Page’s first meeting with the group putting out the poetry magazine Preview, biographer Sandra Djwa explains that after Page passed around her poems, she was met by silence. She quotes an interview with Page, “And then all of a sudden Frank [F.R. Scott], in a characteristic gesture, slapped his thigh and said, ‘Bones. Great God! Nobody writes about bones anymore.’ And instead of that falling on my ears like the kiss of death, it was the most enormous relief just to have somebody say something.”
Compare that text to an earlier text about the same moment:
They read my poems in total silence and passed them around to each other and nobody said anything at all. And I wished I was dead—I wished I was back in the Maritimes, not letting anybody know I wrote poetry. I didn’t know why I was there. I was very unhappy. All of a sudden Frank [Scott] slapped his thigh with great good humour and said, “Bones. My God! Here’s a girl who writes about bones—you can’t write about bones anymore.”
I found the second but earlier version, a quotation from Page, in a Canadian Literature review of Through the Glass Eye.
“Nobody writes” vs. “you can’t write” about bones anymore. Does the slight difference in wording matter? And was it not wise for Sandra Djwa to leave out “Here’s a girl” in her biography of P.K. Page, Journey With No Maps. My review will be posted next week.