Poet, traveller, artist, and mystic - the story of one extraordinary woman's many lives.
Journey with No Maps is the first biography of P.K. Page, a brilliant twentieth-century poet and a fine artist. The product of over a decade's research and writing, the book follows Page as she becomes one of Canada's best-loved and most influential writers. "A borderline being," as she called herself, she recognized the new choices offered to women by modern life but followed only those related to her quest for self-discovery.
Tracing Page's life through two wars, world travels, the rise of modernist and Canadian cultures, and later Sufi study, biographer Sandra Djwa details the people and events that inspired her work. Page's independent spirit propelled her from Canada to England, from work as a radio actress to a scriptwriter for the National Film Board, from an affair with poet F.R. Scott to an enduring marriage with diplomat Arthur Irwin. Page wrote her story in poems, fiction, diaries, librettos, and her visual art.
Journey with No Maps reads like a novel, drawing on the poet's voice from interviews, diaries, letters, and writings as well as the voices of her contemporaries. With the vividness of a work of fiction and the thoroughness of scholarly dedication, Djwa illustrates the complexities of Page's private experience while also documenting her public emergence as an internationally known poet. It is both the captivating story of a remarkable woman and a major contribution to the study of Canada's literary and artistic history.
424 Pages, 6 x 9
Formats: Paperback, Cloth, eBook
"Sandra Djwa has written a foundational biography of P.K. Page as artist and poet on which all further work on Page must draw. She conveys the extraordinary range of Page's generous engagement with the world, and finds her way to the core of P.K.'s passion for art and friendship - her absolute faith in love." Marilyn Bowering, author of Soul Mouth
"Sandra Djwa's brilliant, compellingly detailed biography of P.K. Page is a fitting tribute to one of our greatest poets. Djwa captures Page as a complex, original, and dazzling artist of international stature, and in the process, offers an illuminating portrait of Canadian cultural life in the latter half of the twentieth century." Rosemary Sullivan, author of Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille
"Djwa's careful prose and chronological rigour are matched by her analysis (...) Page unquestionably deserves a full critical biography such as this." George Fetherling
"Journey With No Maps is not just a biography of a poet, but of a painter, and a relentless explorer of the human condition." Montreal Review of Books
"[Journey with No Maps] is a body of work that will endure for generations." The Gazette
"This first full biography of a multitalented poet and visual artist, who won applause from such disparate figures as Stephen Spender, Joseph Brodsky and Margaret Atwood, is a foundational work future studies will consult for a full appreciation of Page's astonishing career as a major artist of our time." David Staines, The Globe & Mail
"This beautifully documented biography proceeds through the full development of Page's career, which is also the history of CanLit in a single example." Literary Review of Canada
"Sandra Djwa’s biography of P.K. Page builds on her already considerable reputation as one of the best literary biographers in Canada. Having had exclusive access to P.K. Page herself, as well as to her extensive personal and archival papers, Djwa has been able to bring precise attention to the life and career of this most important Canadian poet and artist. Djwa’s biography will be the definitive work upon which all future students of Page’s work will draw. " 2012 Gabrielle Roy Prize Jury
“Djwa’s writing is perceptive and supple, her research thorough, making the book a fascinating and pleasurable journey for the reader.” Canada’s History
Sandra Djwa is professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University, and the prize-winning author of The Politics of the Imagination: A Life of F.R. Scott and Professing English: A Life of Roy Daniells.
1 Beginnings, 1884-1927 3
2 Calgary: Intimations, 1928-1934 24
3 England: Discovering Modernism, 1934-1935 37
4 Saint John: Apprenticeship, 1935-1941 46
5 Montreal: Art and Life, 1941-1944 69
6 Halifax and Victoria: Loss, 1944-1946 93
7 Ottawa: Recovery, 1946-1953 108
8 Australia: The Journey Out, 1953-1956 136
9 Brazil: Exotic Worlds, 1957-1959 161
10 Mexico: New Maps, 1960-1964 177
11 Victoria: Finding Oneself, 1964-1969 199
12 Victoria: Inner Events, 1970-1979 221
13 Victoria: Transformations, 1980-1989 247
14 Victoria: Acclaim, 1990-1999 268
15 Victoria: Endings, 2000-2010 292
Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
BC Book Prize (2013)
Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize
Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia (2013)
Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism
Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction
Canada Prize in the Humanities