Sean Wilson did the initial introductions of the 8 readers to share their favorite Al Purdy poems thru the decades and a sample of their own as part of Al Purdy Day.
Each person's brought out a different aspect, facet and tone of the poet from quiet wonder to story telling drama, the comic mystic of what the beavers know and aren't telling to self-deprecating humour. (I'll mostly only describe the Purdy ones but if anyone else wants to provide missing titles or details, please complete the picture.)
Books were on hand for sale as well as a donation box to contribute to the keeping and upkeep of the A-frame as a writer's retreat. A total of $285 was raised for the cause.
Luna Allison read from The Dead Poet and a used bookstore find, an anthology with one of his poems.
I was altered in the placenta
by the dead brother before me
who built a place in the womb
knowing I was coming:
he wrote words on the walls of flesh...
Stephen Brockwell read Purdy's poem of Helen and Menelaus and Agamemnon, a less often read one of Purdy's, unfortunately. An absorbing retelling of the story.
Michael Dennis read a poem of Purdy's early drafted soldier days, being entrusted even with a wooden gun being a foolhardy idea. Even the pigeons learned it was safe to not fly away from him on patrol. And he read from his own, one set in a mining camp at Christmas and the brawl that ensued.
Gwendolyn Guth described going to try to find the A-frame and finding Purdy's grave. (If you missed it, you should ask her for the story.) She read her tribute poems on him from The Ivory Thought: Essays on Al Purdy. In it 17 writers, scholars, critics, and educators appraise and reappraise Purdy’s contribution in essays in tributes, as part of a 2006 conference on him.
Kathryn Hunt, reading from the Last Picture in the World.
little point of land
like a small monk
in a green monastery
Jim Larwill read a Acorn tribute to Purdy and from the argument between Milton Acorn and Al Purdy while they lived in the A-frame. He is rallying for an Ottawa contingent to go to Marmora's people's poetry fest, Purdyfest, on Aug 1. The other picture is Jim Larwill performing The Raven, a bird associated with Purdy and Acorn.
Rob Winger read from Hockey Players and one about a pub brawl and beer like daisies called A Sensitive Man.
Sean Zio read a Purdy poem dedicated to Margaret Laurence and his elegy poem, Be Good.
Here's a 1978 Interview with Purdy and vid links to CBC Archives on Purdy.