The Dead and the Undead


PK PAGE ImagesP.K. Page died January 14, 2010. Canadian poets keenly felt her loss. She was a member of the League of Canadian Poets, a friend, mentor and confidante to many. The LCP set up a memorial P.K. Fund to bear interest to support LCP programs, with a mentorship program first identified with additional support from D.C. Reid.  The first mentorship is planned for 2015.


Last year I instigated The Dead Poets Society Fundraising Dinner, with the $600 raised by the dozen attendees bundled and sent to the League who receipted the donations. Long term, though, I have hopes that others will host similar events in Page’s honour, and to support an ongoing mentorship program.


Despite the occasional snigger about reading the work of poets who are dead, rather than celebrate those of us still topside, this is an opportunity to recognize one of our own tribe as Margaret Laurence would put it, and provide the resources to provide $1,000 or more to a living established poet or spoken word artist to mentor an emerging poet. Both living. The notion of sharing the work of dead poets is to encourage poets to read poetry, and that of those who have gone before from Blake to Szumigalski. It is a rare treat to find out what other people have read and are reading and what influence it has had on their lives and their writing.


It’s been my experience that if you provide a comfortable, safe environment for poets and poetry lovers to share a meal, and poetry, everybody has a lot of fun. At least $75.00 worth of fun. Not everyone has $75.00, and I understand it may be a barrier to some. Those that have $50.00 can pair up and save $25.00.  Those that are eking out a poet’s living will benefit through the mentorship as apprentices or mentors, as money permits. The basic plan follows, and as you’ll see there are many ways to have one of your own. I can’t think of a better to honour P.K. Page. Join me in hosting an LCP Dead Poets Society Fundraising Dinner during Poetry Month April), or anytime. Cheques made out to the League of Canadian Poets should have P.K. Page Fund on the memo line. Don’t want to go to all this trouble…just send the cheque. I’ve stopped being ashamed of asking people for money for what I believe in a long time ago. A toast then, to the memory of P.K. Page!


Guidelines for Hosting a LCP Dead Poets Society Fundraising Dinner

Submitted by Victor Enns



To raise money through donations to the League of Canadians Poets, initially directed to the P.K. Fund supporting new LCP mentorship programming, while offering an enjoyable evening of food, wine, poetry and conversation about dead poets and why they/their poems matter.  


Goal – Donations to LCP by cheque of $50 to $100, raising $500 -$1,000 a dinner.             


1.  Invitations: A League host invites 10 –12 people to dinner. He or she asks each guest to bring a cheque for $75.00 or more made out to the League, and a book of poetry by a dead poet they admire. Invitations should not be restricted to other poets, but should include readers, preferably known to have $75.00 or more to support League programs.  Two for $50.00 each ($100) may also be offered which does not need to be limited to couples in relationships, but could be two people going together to keep their costs to $50.00 and a bottle of wine.


2. Dates: Friday, March 21st is World Poetry Day and would be a good choice; or any date in April as it’s Poetry Month which already is League promoted. While the office will help promote this initiative, the responsibility for selling out the dinner remains with each individual host.

3. Locations: Dinning rooms are great, and events in a home offer collegiality and friendship without incurring venue costs.  Not everyone has dining rooms anymore, or apartments big enough to seat a dozen comfortably in which case the League host may

a) identify someone they know that would make their homes available for this event;
b) find a low-cost venue, a restaurant for example, that may have a private room, that can be booked at no or low cost provided the food is purchased from the restaurant,

c) alternate spaces such as community centres, church basements (which often have kitchens), or artist runs centres, that could accommodate a dozen participants seated comfortably.

4. Food & Wine: If at all possible, the host provides refreshments that suit his/her style of entertaining and budget. The host should not expect to recover his/her food costs. It may be possible to have a local restaurant cater at $15 – $20 a person, which then needs to be collected separately, but allows for a variety of location options. Alternately pot-luck could provide a low cost solution, but adds an obligation to the evening that not everyone may wish to meet. In a home situation or a restaurant in a province that allows it, guests should be encouraged to bring their own bottle.


5. The evening: Guests, given a time limit, read a couple of poems and talk for a few minutes about why the poems or the poet matter to the guest. This can happen between courses, before dessert, or immediately after, and of course, there is usually discussion.  While it is desirable to have at least 10 guests, not all of them need to bring a dead poet to present to shorten up the evening a little and to leave a little more room for conversation.  Either way it is a lot of fun, raises some money, and everyone probably learns a little more about poets and their work.



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