The A-Frame Residency

             The A-frame house at the edge of Roblin Lake was built in 1957 by Al Purdy and his wife Eurithe, who had set aside $1200 dollars from CBC radio plays Al had written in Montreal. They bought a piece of land and a load of used buildings material from a structure being torn down in Belleville, then set to work, building from architect’s plans ordered from a popular magazine. As Al made clear in his autobiography, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, in the first years they endured fierce cold and poverty and worry. “But Roblin Lake in summer, planting seeds and watching things grow; doing a marathon swim across the lake while Eurithe accompanied me in a rowboat; working at the house, making it grow into something that nearly matched the structure already in your mind. Owls came by night, whoo-whooing in a row of cedars above the house; blue herons stalked our shallows; muskrats splashed the shoreline; and I wrote poems.” At 39 Al was a little known poet, still publishing what he later decided was bad poetry. He called a book from that period The Crafte So Long to Lerne. But he and Eurithe hung on, and in the following years, Al’s poetry took a new turn and his reputation began to grow. In 1965 he won the Governor-General’s Award for The Cariboo Horses.

            Many of Al Purdy’s best-known poems were written in Ameliasburgh, a lot of them derived from the history and geography of the village. He lived in the A-frame house—which was gradually improved and expanded—for many years, and he spent at least part of every year at Ameliasburgh until his death in 2000. He and Eurithe were always warm and welcoming to writers who came to visit, and dozens—some would say  hundreds—did. There is surely no house in Canada so strongly connected with an important poet and his literary community.

            The Purdy house is now the site of the A-Frame Residency Program, under which writers are offered a time and place to work in a location that is attractive and of historic significance. Each year between April 1 and November 30 the house will be open for the residency. Writers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents may apply for a term of one to three months. The residency will be open to all writers, but preference will be given to poetry and poetry projects. Each year the jury will also consider proposals for a one-month project in critical writing about Canadian poetry and will be open to unusual and creative ideas for residencies.

Travel to Ameliasburgh will be paid. Those awarded the residency will be given a stipend of $2500 dollars ($2,000 honorarium and $500 travel) a month[1] while living in the A-frame, and will be free to spend their time on their writing. Residents will be expected to participate in one public event for each month of their stay—the event could be a reading, lecture, workshop, an event in a local school or some other literary activity—and to consider other reasonable requests. These events will take place in one of the larger communities nearby, Picton, Belleville, Kingston. As well there is an event at the Town Hall in Ameliasburgh each April to coincide with National Poetry Month and National Al Purdy Day, April 21. All this will be organized in collaboration with the Prince Edward County Arts Council, and a dedicated group in Ameliasburgh and the local area. Residents will be offered a temporary library card for the excellent library at Queen’s University in Kingston, where many of Al Purdy’s papers are held. Those awarded a residency will be asked to donate at least one copy of one of their books to the Residency Library. Writers in residence will also be encouraged to make themselves known at the Purdy Library in Ameliasburgh and to donate a book. They may also wish to discuss with the local liaison the possibility of working with local schools.

Applications should include:

  • A brief professional curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages)
  •  A plan for your residency at the A-frame (max. 2 pages)
  • A letter of reference (if desired by the candidate)
  • A 10-20 page sample of recent writing. 

 

Applicants should propose alternate residency dates if possible.

Four hard copies of the application and the accompanying material should be sent to:

Jean Baird

The Al Purdy A-frame Association

4403 West 11th Ave.,

Vancouver BC V6R 2M2.

Electronic copies of the same files should be emailed to jeanbaird@shaw.ca. Please send one email with all documents and a subject line that includes your name and “2016 residency application.”

Any questions can be addressed to jeanbaird@shaw.ca

Applications for the calendar year 2016 will close on October 17, 2014—mailed materials must be postmarked October 17, 2014 or before. Electronic copies must be received by 4 p.m PT.


[1] Pending successful fundraising

Drama/Poetry/Music at Rednersville Aug. 30

Hello friends
I’m getting in touch to remind you of the outstanding Al Purdy A-Frame Association fund-raiser being held at Active Arts Studio in Rednersville, Prince Edward County, on Saturday August 30 starting at 3PM. I have no doubt it will be sensational. And a sell-out. Three performances – drama, poetry and music – all in support of the A-frame writer in residence program and ongoing restoration of the property (Al’s writing room is the next project.)

I have seen Richard Turtle perform the David Carley play once – and look forward to his amazing Purdy portrayal again. Remarkable actor.

Gerry Shatford’s CD is one of my favourite jazz albums – and the fact that each of the original compositions was inspired by the poetry of Al Purdy makes the music even more enjoyable. Drop by the Purdy blog later for a review.

For the third part of the program, the A-frame’s first writer in residence, Katherine Leyton will be sharing some of her summer work. An historic moment for poetry!

Now, here’s the pitch. I know we all like to wait ’til the last minute to decide, but our host for the event, Jeff Keary, needs to have some confidence that he can meet expenses – and that’s before we begin to make some much-needed funds for the APAFA!

So drop by  Active Arts Studio for the details. Click on the Eventbrite link to book ($50 gets you three original performances, plus food and a Barley Days ‘Sensitive Man’ beer!)

Please pass on this message, and – see you there!

–Lindi Pierce

Second Purdy Picnic Packed

With its first writer-in-residence now calling the iconic Al Purdy A-frame home, the second annual Al Purdy Picnic attracted a large crowd of poets, writers and lovers of literature…read more at Inside Belleville: http://www.insidebelleville.com/news-story/4723784-purdy-celebrated-with-poems-beer/

 

2nd Annual Purdy Picnic Features Readings, Music

Guess Who’s Coming to the Picnic?

 

  • McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada
    To Sponsor Inaugural Residency
  • 2nd Annual Purdy Picnic Features Readings, Music

 

July 26 is a day to celebrate at the Al Purdy A-frame! In addition to it being the date of the 2nd annual Al Purdy Picnic, McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada will announce a major sponsorship of the A-frame’s inaugural residency.

“Mentoring emerging writers was a second vocation for Al,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. “The door to the A-frame was always open … I’m pleased that McClelland and Stewart have joined the lengthy list of donors to the Association. The sponsorship keeps that door open.”

On July 1, Toronto poet Katherine Leyton became the first writer to take up residence at the late Canadian poet’s lakeside cottage in Ameliasburgh, in Ontario’s beautiful Prince Edward County.

 

“McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada is extremely pleased to sponsor this first residency at the A-frame,” said publisher Ellen Seligman. “M&S was Al Purdy’s longtime publisher. He would have been so proud – as we all are – to help support the next generation of poets.”

The A-frame was built on Roblin Lake in 1957 by the late Purdy, one of Canada’s greatest poets, and his wife, Eurithe. Thanks to the generosity of Eurithe Purdy and donors from across Canada, the A-frame was acquired in 2012 by the A-frame Association, a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote Canadian literature and to preserve the retreat for future generations of Canadian writers.

Six other writers have been selected and are scheduled to take up residence at the cottage through 2015.

The picnic on Saturday is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature readings by well-known poets Stuart Ross, Phil Hall, Robert Priest and other raconteurs. Music will be provided by Station Road. Visitors may purchase lunch from PicnicPEC’s food truck or bring their own.

The A-frame was the centre of Al Purdy’s writing universe and one of the most important crossroads on Canada’s literary map. In their 43 years residing there, Al and Eurithe hosted a who’s who of Canadian authors: Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, H.R. Percy, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and dozens of others.

The Al Purdy A-frame Association gratefully acknowledges the generosity of all donors to the project, as well as volunteers who helped in the restoration. They are crucial to the continued success of this effort. For a full list of donors, go to alpurdy.ca.

For further information:

Jean Baird

jeanbaird@shaw.ca

604-224-4898

PURDY DRINKS II

Clara Blackwood, Michael Lista, Robert Priest & Suzannah Showler  . . .

On the same stage, this coming Monday June 23rd, at the Monarch Tavern.  Tickets will be 10$ at the door.

In addition to the price of the ticket, $1 from each drink sold will go towards the ongoing updating of the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame.  Other Purdy-related items will be available for purchase and offered through a silent auction, including hand-made prints of the A-Frame by Amanda Lowthian, and Al Purdy buttons & magnets.

Purdy Drinks 2 PosterMore information at the FACEBOOK EVENT HERE:  http://on.fb.me/1tr4I5J

More about Michael Lista

More about Suzannah Showler

More about Clara Blackwood

More about Robert Priest

Preparing for the first Writer-in-Residence

Our first writer, Katherine Leyton, will move into the A-Frame on July 1st, now only a couple of weeks away!  Because of this there has been a tremendous push on amongst the local A-Framers to get things cleaned up and finished before she gets there.  Our contractor, Matti Kopamees, has been working hard on the construction-end of things, moving earth around, replacing trim, (re)installing wood paneling.  Over the past month however, on the weekends at least, he has not been alone at the A-Frame.  He has been joined by many fine volunteers, moving stones, gravel & dirt, planting flowers, building a fire-pit, installing the deck-boards on the south deck, painting, and cleaning, cleaning cleaning!

Here are some photos of last weekend’s crew, composed almost entirely of members of Katherine Leyton’s family:

Pictured in the group shot are (from left to right): Barbara Leyton, Paul Leyton, Eurithe Purdy, Brian Burrows, Ray Burrows, Marie Newman, Ron Atherly, & Matti Kopamees.

Amanda Lowthian

In this ongoing quest to save the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame and to repurpose it as a residence for up and coming writers, we have had the pleasure of meeting many inspiring and wonderful folk. No doubt in no small amount due to the enduring power of Al’s poetry, kind, interesting, and multi-talented people keep appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, to help us out. One such person is Amanda Lowthian.

Amanda initially encountered the A-Frame a number of years ago on a high school field trip in which she and her classmates were encouraged to make sketches of the building. Inspired, she then used these sketches to come up with a very compelling lino-print, distilling the form of the building to its essential qualities. We were floored when we first saw it, and, with her blessing, immediately adopted it as a promotional and fundraising tool.

We are now making special editions of this print, printed at Coach House books, available for purchase. The first batch of them will be at the Purdy Drinks II event held at the Monarch Tavern next week (Monday June 23rd).   If you will not be able to make it, please get in contact and we would be more than happy to send one.
Below are some photos of Amanda printing the new run:

For those in Ottawa, or in its immediate environs, this is an event that is not to be missed.

Bruce Cockburn supports APAFA

The Spur Festival in Ottawa will be running from May 8th-10th.  As part of this festival, The Al Purdy A-Frame Association is co-programming an event of music, poetry, talk, and general Al Purdy fun, featuring none other than Bruce Cockburn, Marni Jackson, and Anne Fenn!

More information can be found here:  http://spurfestival.ca/ottawa/events/spur-cabaret-signal-verse-noise/

Seven Canadian Writers Chosen for Residency

Seven Canadian writers chosen for A-frame residency in first two years

January 21, 2014For immediate release
AMELIASBURGH, Ont. – Seven Canadian writers have been chosen for the first working retreats at the Al Purdy A-frame house in Prince Edward County. They were chosen from dozens of submissions.
The seven are Katherine Leyton, Sue Sinclair, Nick Thran, Kath MacLean, Laurie Graham, Rob Taylor and Helen Guri.
“I’m so excited about the projects,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. “The first writer-in-residence will be in the house by July.”
The A-frame house was built on Roblin Lake in 1957 by the late Al Purdy, one of Canada’s greatest poets, and his wife, Eurithe. Thanks to the generosity of Eurithe Purdy and donors from across Canada, the A-frame was acquired in 2012 by the Al Purdy A-frame Association, a national non-profit organization with a mandate to promote Canadian literature and to preserve the home as a retreat for future generations of Canadian writers.
The A-frame, a cottage beside Roblin Lake, was the centre of Purdy’s writing universe and a crossroads on Canada’s literary map. In their 43 years there, the Purdys hosted a who’s who of Canadian authors: Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, H.R. Percy, Michael Ondaatje and hundreds of others.
The Al Purdy A-frame Association gratefully acknowledges the generosity of all donors to the project. They are crucial to the success of this effort.
Special thanks are extended to major donors ($5,000 to $40,000): The Glasswaters Foundation, The Good Foundation, Avie Bennett, The Metcalf Foundation, George Galt, The Chawkers Foundation, Michael Audain, Jeff Mooney and Suzanne Bolton, Leonard Cohen, Rosemary Tannock, Tom and Helen Galt, The Griffin Foundation, Harbour Publishing, and Yosef Wosk.
For a full list of donors, go to www.alpurdy.ca.
Fundraising efforts continue and are critical to the success of the writer-in-residence program. Online donations are being accepted through PayPal at alpurdy.ca, or cheques may be sent to The Al Purdy A-frame Association, 4403 West 11th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6R 2M2.
For further information:Steven Heighton: 613-546-9677Jean Baird: jeanbaird@shaw.ca
Biographies of the writers-in-residence are found below.

The Al Purdy A-frame Writers-in-Residence, 2014-2015

Katherine Leyton lives in Toronto. Her work has been published in various reviews and newspapers, including The Edinburgh Review, The Malahat Review and The Globe and Mail. She is the founder of HowPedestrian.ca, a video poetry blog. In addition to working on her own writing at the A-frame, Katherine plans to travel in the region and through her blog promote the poetry of Al Purdy and other local poets.
Sue Sinclair is a highly acclaimed poet and novelist living in Montreal. Among her published works are four books of poetry and three novels. Sue is completing a PhD in philosophy, and at the A-frame will work on a series of poems investigating theories of beauty, including its relationship with human technology.
Nick Thran is a widely published writer of poetry and prose. His book of poems titled Earworm won the 2012 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He will undertake two projects during his time at the A-frame: completing work on poems for his third manuscript, and an essay incorporating his experience at Roblin Lake and what it means to be a Canadian poet in today’s social and political environment. Nick lives in Montreal.
Kath MacLean, a writer and filmmaker living in Edmonton, spent a week with Al and Eurithe Purdy when they lived in Victoria, B.C., and looks forward to residing where Al did so much of his writing. She will be working on a collection of poems based on the actions, manners and etiquette of characters found in the Nancy Drew mystery series. And as a certified Ontario teacher, she proposes to involve local students in the project.
Laurie Graham plans to use her time at the A-frame to complete a series of poems about the North-West Resistance, tracking events involving the Cree, Métis and government forces in the spring of 1885. It is a time-consuming and research-heavy project supported by a 2012 Canada Council grant. Laurie, a native of Alberta, lives in Toronto and is assistant editor of Brick magazine. Her first collection of poetry, Rove, was published by Hagios Press in Fall 2013.
Rob Taylor is the author of The Other Side of Ourselves, a collection of poems published in 2011 by Cormorant Books. He is working on a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and on a second collection of poems. Al Purdy’s writing has had a major influence on Rob’s style, and working at the A-frame will be like a homecoming for him. He plans outreach with the local community to promote and expand the writer-in-residence project.
Helen Guri is the author of Match, a collection of poems published by Coach House Books in 2011. Her poetry column on Random House of Canada’s Hazlitt website was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2013. She plans to continue work on her second collection of poetry, tentatively titled Oracle, during her residency at the A-frame. Helen lives in Toronto.

 

 

About the Al Purdy A-frame Project:

So we built a house, my wife and I
our house at a backwater puddle of a lake
near Ameliasburg, Ont.
–Al Purdy “In Search of Owen Roblin”

And that A-frame house, made out of second-hand lumber and original poetry, became the most famous writer’s house in the country. Hundreds of writers and their housemates found their way to Roblin Lake to visit the Purdys and talk about poetry and history while downing beer or wild grape wine. Coleridge and his friends had their lake country, and now the Canadian poets would have theirs. A lot of poetry and prose came out of that hard-to-find place.

To prevent its second-hand wood from ending up on someone’s scrap heap, and with the blessing and support of Al’s widow, Eurithe Purdy, The Purdy A-frame Association raised funds to purchase the property and is now raising more funds to preserve it, create an endowment and establish a poet-in-residence program.