Wednesday 18 November 2009

The Al Purdy A-frame in the Globe and Mail

The launch for The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology is tonight at Harbourfront Centre. York Quay Centre, Lakeside Terrace, 7:30pm.

Here's what the Globe and Mail's John Barber has to say about it:

“It's not just a shack in the woods,” says Jean Baird, the Vancouver editor who is leading the preservation effort. “It has been a pilgrimage place for decades for young writers – for all writers.” Acolytes who never knew Purdy or drank his wild-grape wine out of old whisky bottles still leave totems on his nearby grave, according to Baird. “If the e-mails I get are any indication, the back roads of Prince Edward County are full of lost poets, looking for the A-frame.”

There's nothing else like it in the country, she adds. The boyhood home of Pierre Berton in Dawson City operates today as a writers' retreat, but that late author never wrote there and wouldn't recognize it if he were alive today, according to Baird. Purdy not only hand-built and lived in the A-frame, he made it and its landscape the focus of some of his finest poems. “Berton House doesn't have the clout of this place,” Baird says. “On a heritage meter, this one's off the charts.”

Not only a place of pilgrimage for such young, unpublished writers as Michael Ondaatje, the Purdy A-frame also appears to have functioned as the drunken boat of Canadian literature. Blackouts, broken legs and furious arguments mark the anthologized reminiscences.

Read the whole article here.

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