Alfred Wellington Purdy, OCOOnt (December 30, 1918 – April 21, 2000) was a 20th-century Canadianfree verse poet. Purdy's writing career spanned fifty-six years. His works include thirty-nine books of poetry; a novel; two volumes of memoirs and four books of correspondence, in addition to his posthumous works. He has been called the nation's "unofficial poet laureate" and "a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture." However, acclaim is not universal. Noted Canadian formalist poet James Pollock, when asked to "Name one poet, living or dead, it seems everyone loves but you," answered: "In Canada, Al Purdy. The emperor has no clothes." 
In addition to his poems and novel, Purdy's work includes two volumes of memoirs, the most recent of which was Reaching for the Beaufort Sea. He also wrote four books of correspondence, including Margaret Laurence - Al Purdy: A Friendship in Letters and radio and television plays for the CBC. He was writer-in-residence at several Canadian universities; contributed to Acta Victoriana, literary journal of Victoria College; and edited a number of anthologies of poetry.
He wrote the introduction to the last book of poetry by his friend Milton Acorn, The Whiskey Jack. Purdy was also a long-time friend of American author Charles Bukowski. Bukowski once said: "I don't know of any good living poets. But there's this tough son of a bitch up in Canada that walks the line."
Al Purdy died in North Saanich, B.C., on April 21, 2000. His final collection of poetry, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, was released posthumously in the fall of 2000.
Memorial[edit source | edit]
A grass-roots movement to preserve Purdy's A-frame cottage in Ameliasburgh has been organized by Jean Baird (wife of poet George Bowering) and Purdy's publisher Howard White of Harbour Publishing, who together founded the A-Frame Trust with the intent of raising $1 million to preserve the house as a memorial to Purdy and a writing retreat for other writers.
Awards and recognition[edit source | edit]
Honours and awards Purdy received include the Order of Canada (O.C.) in 1982, the Order of Ontario in 1987, and the Governor General's Award, in 1965 for his collection The Cariboo Horses, and again in 1986 for The Collected Poems of Al Purdy. The League of Canadian Poets gave Purdy the Voice of the Land Award, a special award created by the League to honour his unique contribution to Canada.
Purdy's collection of poems, Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems, 1962–1996, was chosen for inclusion in Canada Reads 2006, where it was championed by poet Susan Musgrave. On May 20, 2008, a large bronze statue of Purdy was unveiled in Queen's Park in downtown Toronto.
Publications[edit source | edit]
Lifetime[edit source | edit]
Poetry[edit source | edit]
The Enchanted Echo. Vancouver: Clarke & Stuart, 1944.