The Porcupine’s Quill couldn’t afford an image of Sarah Polley as Alice for the cover of the Alice book back in the day . . . so here’s one courtesy of the Stratford Festival archives, taken with trusty BlackBerry
JBNBlog thanks Tim & Elke Inkster of Porcupine’s Quill for Sunday’s terrific James Reaney Memorial Lecture at Stratford. The annual series celebrates the legacy of my late father, Canadian poet & playwright James Crerar “Jamie” Reaney … Tim’s talk was fascinating.
Deepest thanks to the series organizers, Charles Mountford of Poetry Stratford, & the Stratford Public Library, represented by collections & outreach librarian & topnotch fencer Robyn Godfrey, who handled tech issues deftly … & to all those who joined us on Sunday.
Tim’s talk with the fifth in the series. Previous speakers include my late mother & London’s greatest poet Colleen Thibaudeau, London author Jean McKay, London creative aces Marion Johnson & Peter Denny, Canadian actor, teacher & impresario David Ferry . . . just fyi, & because it so kewl, David Ferry has been touring Australia in a production of The Last Confession starring David Suchet, a.k.a. PBS-TV’s Poirot.
Next year, it will be Tom Gerry(whose The Emblems of James Reaney is published by The Porcupine’s Quill) on his study of dad’s emblem’s poems & in 2016 the iconic composer & Canadian hero John Beckwith.
Over to QMI Agency colleague Laura Cudworth for the details from Sunday … a bow to Laura & all Beacon Herald allies for their
contributions to arts coverage & so much more in Stratford & Perth County. Yay.
Straford Beacon Herald Staff Reporter
The late James Reaney was a creative writer to be sure, but few may realize he was also a creative typesetter.
Tim Inkster, co-owner of The Porcupine’s Quill with wife Elke, was the speaker at the annual James Reaney Memorial Lecture Sunday afternoon. Inkster’s talk was an “anecdotal bibliography of Reaney’s career in print.”
Fans of Reaney’s work – perhaps many new ones now after a successful production of Alice Through the Looking-Glass at the Stratford Festival this season – may not be aware he had a press in the basement of his Huron Street home, where he put together copies of Alphabet magazine and printed two books–one of his own and the other his wife Colleen Thibaudeau’s work.
It could be argued his dedication to getting the word out is unmatched. He assembled full pages of prose one letter at a time, Inkster said.
In fact, there’s one story about his running into difficulty when he ran out of “Ws” while putting together an essay about being a twin for Alphabet. He had to rewrite parts of it in order to avoid the word, Inkster said.
There are also stories of Reaney transporting monotype precariously on buses and dumping the letters.
Inkster knew Reaney and was in the process of publishing a new edition of the Governor-General’s Award-winning A Suit of Nettles with wonderful illustrations when the poet died. Reaney died in 2008 and never saw the edition.
Inkster called that one of the great disappointments of his career.
He also recalled when Alice Through the Looking-Glass was deep in rehearsals before it’s debut at the Stratford Festival in 1994. It occurred to Reaney a book might be a good idea. He approached the Inksters to print it in May. The play opened in July.
Inkster was in Stratford opening day delivering copies to bookstores.
“The ink was still damp,” he said.
They couldn’t afford to put actress Sarah Polley’s face on the cover – she played Alice – so a design sketch was used instead.
Reaney didn’t like cars or highways. He preferred bikes. He had a sense of the past and certainly a sense of place. While he may be best known for his trilogy about the historic Donnellys, he had a deep understanding of the present.
Inkster recalled the stir that erupted after he wrote The Box Social.
“The story introduced the theme of date rape 30 years before the term was invented.”
Reaney won the Governor-General’s Award three times. In addition to A Suit of Nettles, he won for The Red Heart and Twelve Letters to a Small Town and The Killdeer and Other Plays.