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Alfred W. [Al] Purdy (1918-2000)

Al Purdy was born in Wooler, Ontario and spent the better part of his childhood in Trenton and went to Albert College in Belleville. In the dirty 30s Purdy road the rails to Vancouver where he got a job in a mattress factory amonst other menial labours. He served in the RCAF during WWII at Woodcock Air Force Base on the Skeena River in northern B.C. His early association with another working class writer, Milton Acorn, and his voluminous correspondence with the U.S. Writer Charles Bukowski, published by Paget Press in 1984, gave Purdy's particular brand of vernacular an elegant ring. In the early 1960s he and Acorn edited a few issues of a mimeographed periodical called Moment. His early verse was formal in its approach to language in books such as The enchanted echo (1944), Pressed on sand (1955), Emu, Remember! (1956), The crafte so longe to lerne (1959), Poems for all the Annettes (1962), The blur in between (1963), The Cariboo Horses (1965/Governor General's Award), North of summer (1967), Wild grape wine (1968), Love in a burning building (1970), Hiroshima poems (1972), On the Bearpaw Sea (1973), In search of Owen Roblin (1974), Sex and death (1973), Sun dance at dusk (1976), No other country (1977), A handful of earth (1977), Being alive (1978), No second spring ( 1978), The stone bird (1981), Piling blood (1984), and Collected Poems (1986).