The Collected Prose of Al Purdy
Starting from Ameliasburgh
by Al Purdy
"A hundred years from now, one of the few Canadian poets whose work will still be read is Al Purdy" -Maclean's
Book DescriptionDuring the years Al Purdy was becoming one of Canada's best-loved poets, he also wrote and published many pages of distinctive prose. This selection of almost forty years of essays and anecdotes is vintage Purdy. Part I, No Other Country, consists of essays on seeing the world as a Canadian. It begins as a fascinating travel diary as Purdy takes the reader riding the rails through the Depression-era West, continues to Labrador to search for two lost Inuit hunters, and covers an astonishing variety of points between. Part II, The Writing Life, offers distinctive personal takes on the work of Charles Bukowski, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, Peter Trower, Bliss Carman and Rudyard Kipling, as well as touching personal memoirs of friends such as Milton Acorn, Malcolm Lowry and Earle Birney. Part III reviews poets from from Raymond Souster to bill bissett, and ends with a tribute to Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Even in Purdy's sidetrips to the Galapagos Islands and the former Soviet Union, the spirit that permeates Starting from Ameliasburgh is passionately Canadian. "There is a tireless runner in my blood," Purdy writes, "that encircles the borderlands of Canada through the night hours, and sleeps when day arrives. Then my mind awakes and the race continues... This is what I was and what I became...The map of my country, the carography of myself."
Whether describing Newfoundland fishermen cod-jigging for the body of a comrade killed by a whale, or Milton Acorn "ranting untranslatable PEI lobster jargon," or Roderick Haig-Brown "writing his first book longhand in school scribblers, while devil's club thorns pop out of his arms and shoulders," Purdy's prose crackles with the vitality of a mind that is never at rest.
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