This is a book with a mission. On one level it is a celebration of the great Canadian poet Al Purdy by eminent writers who were his contemporaries. On another it is a celebration of the place that was the centre of Purdy's writing universe--his home, a lakeside A-frame cottage in Ameliasburgh, Ontario, where he and his wife Eurithe lived for 43 years. No writer's home has played such a starring role in the work of its owner since Orillia stood in as Mariposa in the work of Stephen Leacock. But more than that, the Purdy A-frame served as a kind of tribal mustering place for notable Canadian writers from the 1950s to the 1990s including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, George Bowering, Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, Janet Lunn, Patrick Lane and a host of others. This book collects anecdotes, reminiscences, and poems by a roll call of famous writers about memorable days and nights spent at the A-frame in addition to a selection of Purdy's own writing showing the depth of his feeling for the place where he put down his roots. Eurithe Purdy says Al was always his most productive at the A-frame.
"Despite the caviar receptions and gold accolades, he always returned to this jury-rigged little A-frame tacked to a low-slung, leaning bungalow. The whole edifice, he observed, 'bent a little in the wind and dreamt of the trees it came from'. Here, he could observe all his poetry's recurring themes: love, death, ego, 'the glories of copulation.'"
Paul Vermeersch is the author of three collections of poetry. His poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines. He lives in Toronto, where he works as a teacher and serves as poetry editor for Insomniac Press. He is a long-time reader and admirer of the work of Al Purdy.