Al Purdy

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Alfred Wellington Purdy
Toronto Al Purdy Memorial 01.jpg
Edwin and Veronica Dam's Alfred Purdy Memorial
BornDecember 30, 1918
Wooler, Ontario
DiedApril 21, 2000
NationalityCanada Canadian
Fieldwriter, editor and poet
TrainingAlbert College and Trenton Collegiate Institute
 
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Alfred Wellington Purdy
Toronto Al Purdy Memorial 01.jpg
Edwin and Veronica Dam's Alfred Purdy Memorial
BornDecember 30, 1918
Wooler, Ontario
DiedApril 21, 2000
NationalityCanada Canadian
Fieldwriter, editor and poet
TrainingAlbert College and Trenton Collegiate Institute

Alfred Wellington Purdy, OC OOnt (December 30, 1918 – April 21, 2000) was a 20th-century Canadian free 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."[1] 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." [2]

Biography[edit source | edit]

Edwin and Veronica Dam's Alfred Purdy Memorial

Born in Wooler, Ontario Purdy went to Albert College in Belleville, Ontario, and Trenton Collegiate Institute in Trenton, Ontario. He dropped out of school at 17 and rode the rails west to Vancouver. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Following the war, he worked in various jobs until the 1960s, when he was finally able to support himself as a writer, editor and poet.[3]

In 1957, Purdy and his wife Eurithe moved to Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh, Ontario (south of Trenton in Prince Edward County), where they built an A-frame cottage, and this became his preferred location for writing.[4] In his later years, he divided his time between North Saanich, British Columbia, and his cottage at Roblin Lake.

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[5]; and edited a number of anthologies of poetry.[3]

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.[3]

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.[6]

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.[3] 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]

Prose[edit source | edit]

Edited[edit source | edit]

Posthumous[edit source | edit]

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Brooke, James (April 26, 2000). Al Purdy, Poet, Is Dead at 81; A Renowned Voice in Canada. The New York Times. Retrieved on: April 18, 2008.
  2. ^ Medley, Mark (May 13, 2013). The Griffin Prize Q&A: James Pollock. The National Post. Retrieved on: May 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d University of Toronto Library. Al Purdy, Biography. Canadian Poets Series. Retrieved on: April 19, 2008.
  4. ^ The A-Frame
  5. ^ http://actavictoriana.ca
  6. ^ Save Al Purdy's House Campaign
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax Search results: Al Purdy, Open Library, May 13, 2011.

External links[edit source | edit]