Editing Modernism in Canada


May 23, 2011

The P.K. Page Letters

Sharing my research experiences over the course of working on the P.K. Page project seems a bit daunting. Since the spring of 2010 I have been working as an R.A. with Sandra Djwa on the Letters of P.K. Page, a subsection of the P.K. Page Editorial Project. My previous experience researching for the P.K. Page biography, Journey With No Maps, has proven helpful as I already had a working knowledge of P.K. and could decipher and understand the subject matter and in some cases even identify some of P.K.’s respondents. The process of the Letters subset has involved extensive Xeroxing and the transcribing and scanning of letters into a database, cataloging each letter by date, and identifying events and occasions alluded to (though often not clearly referenced) in the letters. This requires external research such as reviewing interviews, tracing the course of P.K.’s metaphysical and Sufism beliefs from her reading lists, finding newspaper reviews and articles, and piecing all findings together for accurate interpretation and, eventually, annotation of the letters.
I have learned a lot of mundane – but useful! – skills through of all this. (Mundane, did I just say that? I think I did.) I have been learning how to collect and organize a large body of material, including the transcription of archival notes for the purposes of establishing a context for specific letters, and for identifying people, topics or subjects mentioned in them. I have also been discovering how to index and catalogue such material through inputting the letters into FileMaker. Though not always thrilling, the process of organizing material is all for the better cause of understanding Page and her multi-faceted, aspiring, inspiring, inquisitive, and courageous talents.
Working on the P.K. Page Project has changed me in a way I did not know it had the power to, and I don’t just mean that I’ve developed a knack for filing. It has ignited in me a passion for poetry, the arts, for P.K. Page, and for Canadian culture and history. The value of the EMiC Project is not just in the facts amassed, the knowledge gained, or even the effect of the work on the project’s affiliates, but in what we can share.

And that is why I wrote this blog … daunting as it may be.

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