PAGE’S PAGES

Geist - - Endnotes - —Jill Man­drake

The poet and artist P.K. Page wrote Mex­i­can Jour­nal (Por­cu­pine’s Quill) from 1960 to 1963, while posted in Mex­ico with her hus­band, Am­bas­sador W. Arthur Ir­win. I picked up this book think­ing I’d have noth­ing to re­late to within its pages, but I was mis­taken: I couldn’t put it back down. Then I read it again, and couldn’t put it down the sec­ond time, ei­ther. Page recorded riv­et­ing ac­counts of both her pub­li­cand pri­vate-life ac­tiv­i­ties. She can­didly de­scribed her first impressions of var­i­ous dig­ni­taries who vis­ited Mex­ico in the early ’60s, in­clud­ing John and Jac­que­line Kennedy: “Jackie got off the plane look­ing like a twelveyear-old girl back from school and a bit shy… She is bet­ter look­ing in pho­tos than in life and he is per­haps the re­verse.” Page also met a num­ber of artists, mys­tics and other no­ta­bles, in­clud­ing the multi-tal­ented Leonora Car­ring­ton (as far as I can fathom, not re­lated to the Bri­tish artist Dora Car­ring­ton). Page wrote of an early meet­ing with

her: “Have been help­ing in my spare moments with Leonora Car­ring­ton’s play. She wrote it when she was eigh­teen. I know lit­tle about it ex­cept that it is about a girl of eigh­teen who has been kept in her nurs­ery all that time and who falls in love with her rock­ing horse. It is a tragedy.” Page had a rare tal­ent for cap­tur­ing some­one’s essence with just a few sub­lime sen­tences. Be­sides the abil­ity to por­tray her as­so­ci­ates, and the spirit of the times, Page was adept at de­tail­ing states of mind. She sums up the de­spair of writer’s block with this en­try: “Scrap­ing the bot­tom of the bar­rel hurts when you’re the bar­rel.” And that is only Part One. In Part Two, Page writes ex­ten­sively about the spir­i­tual and mys­tic prac­tices that she pur­sued dur­ing her stay in Mex­ico. It’s worth read­ing to en­counter her dis­tinct and, in some cases, tran­scen­dent ob­ser­va­tions.

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