Saturday, October 27, 2012



Wonderful news! Al Purdy's A-Frame, the home he built with his wife, Eurithe, has been saved from the proverbial and literal wrecking ball. Four years ago—I can hardly believe it's been that long—I posted photos Ted took at the Roblin Lake property in 1972, and a copy of the letter I wrote supporting the push to save the house and eventually make it available for writers to work in. 

View from Al Purdy's A-Frame, across Roblin Lake, 1972 (photo Ted Crosfield)
Thanks to a lot of work by Jean Baird and Howard White, to the incredible generosity on the part of Eurithe Purdy who sold the property for less than she might have, and to the folk who bought anthologies and gave money and wrote letters in support of the project, the A-Frame will remain. Quoting myself in one of those letters (why reinvent the wheel?), "...there are those of us who seek out the places where writers have written. We like to wander about where writers who have gone before us have wandered, imagine we’re traveling the same path, in both a physical and metaphorical sense. To walk such paths is to walk through history, for it is through words and images and sounds and movement we are able to discover vestiges of our commonality as human beings, a sense of our place in the world as it is now, and a glimpse of where we may be in the future."

Meanwhile At the Manse is a blog by Katherine Sedgwick. Here is her post about the house being saved and here's an earlier one from March of this year where she talks about Al and includes (with permission, of course), The Country North of Belleville, where Roblin Lake and and A-Frame are located.  If you've made it this far and you don't know anything about Al Purdy's poems, try that one on for size. His poetry is kind of one-size fits all.

Paul Vermeesch blogs about it here, the Vancouver Sun has an article here, Quill and Quire here.

More fundraising is going to happen in order to ready the house for its first resident poet, hopefully next year, and to create an endowment to keep it going. No amount is too small, so why not go over HERE and hit the Donate button. Alternately, you can send a cheque to The Al Purdy A-Frame Association, 4403 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R 2M2. Do it for poetry. Do it in the name of preserving a piece of Canada's literary history. 

When I was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, two friends and I decided to visit the Royal Ontario Museum. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day, cold but sunny, and as the ROM was in walking distance we set off.  Our route took us through Queen's Park where Al's statue is, and sure enough, after a few minutes of wandering about, we found it. Larger than life. 

Sort of like Al.
Me and Al, October 2012, Queen's Park, Toronto

I was in Toronto for a friend's memorial service. RIP Martha. It's my birthday and it'll be the first one where we haven't spoken to each other since she moved to one side of the country and I moved to the other. This year, she'd have called singing When I'm Sixty-Four in that beautiful voice of hers and in ten days I'd call her 'cause it'd be her turn. Funny the things you miss. 
Here we are, back in the day.
Linda and Martha at Niagara Falls, summer 1980. Or '79.

And here's her last resting place, up near Owen Sound. 
Martha K Smith, who loved everything

I'm still taking that course through Coursera and the University of Pennsylvania. Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, or ModPo as it's become known, goes for ten weeks altogether and we're about to hit Week 8. Right now we're looking at some of the New York School poets. Right now I should be writing 500 words on Frank O'Hara. But I'm here, and it all counts. 

Thanks for reading.


Splabman said...

What a great post! & Look at you as a young woman! Having just visited the cabin of Lorine Niedecker a month ago I can tell you that these places are THRILLING for the reasons you mentioned, Linda, and more. ( Bless Jean Baird and those who helped make this preservation happen. Someday the locals will complain about all the weird "poetry tourists."

intendtogether said...

Hey Linda,
great story ;)
I like the idea of visiting the places where writers worked. Writing's ease-of-transportability makes it susceptible to abstraction from its context; we too-easily forget that it has to take place, someplace. I wonder if it's possible to think of writing in terms of a/effects delivered from one place to another, through the medium of the writer-reader recapitulation/transmission?

Parissa said...

Great post! You also have included really nice photos. :)