For months a group based in Toronto has been building on the work started by Jean Baird and Howard White in B.C. to preserve Al Purdy’s historic A-Frame house in Prince Edward County. Thanks to Jean and Howie’s inspired work over the years, the building has recently been bought. Now it’s up to us to save it and restore it so that it can be used as a literary centre.
Hence the February 6 fundraiser at Koerner Hall. I’m part of the local committee, chaired by George Goodwin, and involving the talents of Marni Jackson, Leslie Lester, Christopher Goodwin, Alexandra Manthorpe, Patrick White, Don Oravec, Duncan Patterson, and Valerie Jacobs. The event itself is being organized by the excellent Laura McLeod.
I’ll be appearing on-stage in a modest role in what looks like being a great and memorable event, an affectionate celebration of Al Purdy, whom I knew well, and published with pride.
Now read on and buy your tickets while you can . . . and spread the word!
THE TRAGICALLY HIP’S GORD DOWNIE
TO APPEAR AT AL PURDY TRIBUTE
“When Al Purdy died, among the stuff in the newspapers was
his answer to this same question:
‘I write like a spider spins webs and much for the same reason,
to support my existence.’ I really liked that.”
— Gord Downie
For immediate release
TORONTO, ON (January 9, 2013) The Al Purdy A-Frame Association announced today that Gord Downie, Canadian poet and lead singer of The Tragically Hip, will be appearing in the THE AL PURDY SHOW on February 6.
Downie considers Al Purdy an important influence as a poet and lyricist. In addition to Gord’s performance, the show will include readings from Margaret Atwood, Ken Babstock, George Bowering, George Elliot Clarke, Michael Enright, Phil Hall, Steven Heighton, Dennis Lee, Gordon Pinsent, Robert Priest and Karen Solie, as well as musical guests, Bidiniband with The Billie Hollies, and The Skydiggers.
Proceeds from the evening will support the Al Purdy A-Frame Association’s efforts to conserve the late poet’s home and to maintain it as an educational resource and a place for writers to come together and work for years to come. The show will take place at Koerner Hall — The TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning — 273 Bloor Street West in Toronto at 7:30 pm. Ticket prices range between $25.00 and $50.00.
“This event is a true celebration of one of the most popular and important Canadian poets of the 20th century,” said Jean Baird, President of the Association. “Al loved hanging out with people, talking about poetry and having a good time. We want the evening to capture this spirit. Plus, we have some nifty surprises planned.”
Al Purdy and his partner Eurithe began building the A-Frame cabin on the shores of Roblin Lake, in Prince Edward County, in 1957. It was here that Purdy came into his own as a poet, and the A-Frame became a gathering place for many of the writers who would shape Canadian literature. Over their 43 years at the A-Frame, Al and Eurithe hosted Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood and hundreds of others in the writing and arts community. The menu usually included spaghetti, and lots of Al’s wild-grape wine.
“This event will be very exciting for Purdy fans,” said Jean Baird. “For the first time, Eurithe Purdy has donated books and other items from Al’s personal collection for auction.”
These include Purdy’s signed and numbered editions from his own extensive library, rare first editions by other poets, and original artwork from Leonard Cohen. Book-lovers, mark your calendars!
In October 2012, using donated funds, The Al Purdy A-Frame Association, a national non-profit organization, acquired the property. As part of its mandate to promote Canadian literature and Canadian writers, the Association’s first goal is to preserve the home as an educational resource and a work retreat for future generations of writers.
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