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!
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/
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:
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.
More information at the FACEBOOK EVENT HERE: http://on.fb.me/1tr4I5J
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.
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.
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 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: email@example.com
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.
The Purdy A-frame A-list: your money, your name, forever
Originally posted on by Leslie Kenney on the Descant Blog, Jan. 24/14
People are funny and generous and kind. But mostly funny.
That’s why Descant blog commenter “RW” had such a great idea: why not print the actual list of items needed to restore the Al and Eurithe Purdy A-frame? Sure, folks who can will click a website’s “donate” button from time to time. But if you knew you could have the most famous and literary septic pump named after you, wouldn’t you dig deeper and jump at the chance?
Thanks to the help of the Purdy A-Frame Association President, Jean Baird, and Project Manager, Duncan Patterson, Descant now has the list. The A-frame A-list. But since it’s just a list of items and amounts, I’ve taken some poetic liberty. Some would say a lot of poetic liberty.
Leonard Cohen has donated, although it’s not clear what he would like his name on. I’m guessing something close to the lake, where you can hear the boats go by.
What about you? What would you like to install in your name at Al and Eurithe’s famous house on the shores of Roblin lake, where for 50 years the couple entertained, supported and (Al) argued with the Canadian writers we have come to love and appreciate?
All monies raised go to fixing up the physical structure of the house and property, impressively and carefully managed by Al Purdy admirer, Duncan Patterson, and to sustain a Writer-in-Residence program that will support and promote Canadian writers and literacy.
If you know Al Purdy’s poetry, you know that he, of all people, could make even a list poetic. With kind permission, I’ve tried to conjure him, in his own words, even though we all know that “poems will not really buy beer or flowers” [from At The Quinte Hotel… but you knew that].
So, whoever you are, “RW,” here’s that list. Get out your chequebook. You started this.
The Purdy A-frame A-list
Item Price Quantity
Decks 3k 2
This is where it happened – the heated discussions and arguments about poetry and politics. Young poets and novelists of the day came to eat and drink on the deck off the A-frame kitchen. And now new young writers will sit there, “between lightning flashes/writing” [After Rain], with “fingers like fireflies on the typewriter” [For Margaret]. Keypad, whatever.
Margaret Laurence and Al Purdy outside the A-frame. Their correspondence was published in Margaret Laurence, Al Purdy: A Friendship in Letters (McClelland & Stewart, 1994). (photo credit Hazel Legate, Flickr Creative Commons).
Trickle Pump 1k 1
The trickle pump ensures that there is always some water to pump to the house. It’s a kind of recovery system, if the well were to run dry. Need I say more? Al certainly didn’t love all his poems, but his well never dried up and he never gave up.
“my poems you have failed/but when I have recovered from/this treachery to myself/I shall walk among the hills chanting/and celebrate my own failure/transformed to something else.” [On Realizing He Has Written Some Bad Poems]
Well Pump 1k 1
When Al and Eurithe started building the A-frame in 1957, according to Al,
“… we pounded nails/and sawed boards, cussing and sweating a little/without money for electricity or plumbing/three lamps together and you might read a book/chopping thru winter ice for water/If the result wasn’t home it was a place to camp/and whatever gods there were/who permitted pain and defeat/also allowed brief content” [Old Man]
You can have a private chuckle, every day, knowing that all their hardship was, in the end, rewarded. By you. Someone who knows Al only through his poetry. You have to admit, he’d probably like that.
Septic Pump 1k 1
If I could swing it, this one’s for me. That is, if Michael Enright hasn’t beaten me to it. So very necessary, practical, unpoetic and yet…
“I am drinking beer with yellow flowers,” [Quinte Hotel] wrote Al, who once stood “…outside at night/after the requisite number of beers/and with a graceful enormous parabola/trying to piss on the stars/failing magnificently” [Attempt].
Al’s restored “gingham highrise.”
Washing Machine 600 1
Imagine that the cleaning machine you donate could one day wash the skivvies of a new Michael Ondaatje, George Elliott Clarke or Susan Musgrave? And washing machines are necessary, especially for poets, because “… love survives in the worst cologne” [Married Man’s Song].
Baseboard Heaters 500 5
“Later when it gets colder/one of the ladies/gives me a big piece/ of canvas to throw over the tent/and sews it on securely/ to keep me warm at night/ -What can I say?” [What Can’t Be Said]
Well, you could say that you are keeping warm the next generation of writers, a kind of incubator for creativity, the results of which often bring us to our knees. And our senses.
Front Hall Floor 600 1
The front hall floor at the Purdy A-Frame was a bit of a hazard when I was there last summer. I imagined the treacherous journey across it, after a few drinks. The front hall is the first thing you see when you enter the house and the piece of floor everyone must traverse, drunk or sober. It’s where writers you love have hugged hello and kissed goodbye for 50 years. Yours for $600. A deal at twice the price.
“I am thinking home is the ghost of home/and we are somewhere in between” [Old Man]
Things have improved since I took this photo of the front steps last summer.
Firewood shelter 500 1
In his poem House Guest, written about poet Milton Acorn, Purdy writes, “how the new house built with salvaged old lumber/bent a little in the wind and dreamt of the trees it came from.” Your shelter would protect the dreams of its inhabitants. For awhile.
Benches 500 10
What a lovely idea to donate a bench in your name, or your family’s name. Okay, it’s a tad cliché, but it’s one of the good ones. Writers and Purdy admirers will be able to sit on your bench, “like a small monk/in a green monastery/meditating/ almost sculpture” [The Last Picture in the World]. And when you come to visit, you too can sit there and watch for the great blue herons that left Al transfixed.
Writing Cabin Ceiling 500 1
A cabin without a ceiling is … a lean-to? For $500 it could be your ceiling that future renowned poets and novelists stare up at, searching for just that one right word that will propel them to infamy. Or the next sentence. You will be able to say that you are, literally, providing a roof (come on, the ceiling is attached to the roof) over the heads of future generations of Canadian writers. The cabin isn’t fancy and doesn’t face the lake, but, on the positive side, there’s nothing about it that would distract a writer from doing anything but write. While “there are rooms for rent in the outer planets,” [Married Man’s Song] Al’s writing cabin will do just fine.
The writing cabin, to the right of the A-frame. Here Purdy wrote many of the poems that would be published in 39 books. His poetry is filled with animals, birds, flowers, and the forests, mountains and lakes of the Canadian landscape; public figures and private friends; and many of his poems are shot through with a deep sense of failure, mourning, struggle… and the colour yellow.
Trees & Shrubs 250 20
The other items on this list are imperative for the structure to run well and last a long time, but let’s face it – trees and shrubs will last longer. How great to have a tree growing on the Purdy property, in your name. Your literary soil-and-sun dependent metaphor, something to feed your “… small passion for permanence” [An Arrogance]. Something to block out the sounds of the busy-body world, “Beyond our trees that belong/to themselves the highway/traffic’s sullen sounds/a quietness in our bones” [Our Wilderness].
And buying a shrub is good, too, although, “expect only a small whisper/of birds nesting and green things growing/and a brief saying of them” [The Dead Poet].
Still can’t find the perfect thing, the one pragmatic item you would like affixed with your name for all eternity (or whatever the guarantee states)? Well, “the bill is due and the desk clerk wakes” [Married Man’s Song] so I’ll leave you with the rest of the list. Grab a book of Al’s poems and see which of these strikes at your core. It’s just a little A-frame on a little treed property, but, as Al observed, “…the way humans attach emotion/to one little patch of ground/and continually go back there/in the autumn of our lives/to deal with some of the questions/that have troubled us” [Red Leaves].
Ceiling fan 120 2
Exhaust fan 300 3
Pressure tank 500 1
Sprayed Polyurethane Insulation 3k 1
Sump Pump 1k 1
Drainage ditch 4k 1
Air to Air heat exchanger 6k 1
If you leave a comment below, I can put you in touch with the A-Frame Association and you can discuss with them the size of the name plaque you want for literary eternity. For $25,000, the entire list is yours and I’m sure something legacy-worthy can be arranged.
The Al Purdy poems from which the lines above were borrowed, with all due respect to Al, appear here with permission. All for the ultimate purposes of making more sturdy the house, the memories and the future that Eurithe and Al Purdy built, on the shores of Roblin Lake.
All these poems can be found in Al’s last book, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, which he and Sam Solecki put together before Purdy’s death in 2000, for Harbour Publishing. And for Eurithe.