Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems Of Al Purdy by Al PurdyBeyond Remembering: The Collected Poems Of Al Purdy by Al Purdy

Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems Of Al Purdy

byAl PurdyEditorSam SoleckiForeword byMargaret Atwood

Hardcover | October 1, 2000

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 225 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


By the time Al Purdy succumbed to lung cancer at his waterfront home in Sidney BC on April 21, 2000, he was universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest writers Canada has produced. In five decades as a published author he had produced over forty books and received innumerable distinctions, including two Governor General's Awards and the Order of Canada. A hands-on writer who delighted in co-producing specialty publications and small press titles in addition to his major collections with leading publishers, Purdy left a massive and diverse body of work, much of it long unavailable to the public.

The Collected Poems, edited by Purdy critic Sam Solecki with the full participation of the author, for the first time brings all of Purdy's poetic writings together in one volume, including all his later books, work previously uncollected from earlier periods as well as several excellent new poems he completed in the months before his death. It is, as he said, everything he wished to be remembered for.
Save the Al Purdy A-Frame Campaign The Canadian League of Poets has declared a National Al Purdy Day!Al Purdy was born December 30, 1918, in Wooler, Ontario and died at Sidney, BC, April 21, 2000. Raised in Trenton, Ontario, he lived throughout Canada as he developed his reputation as one of Canada's greatest writers. His collections i...
Title:Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems Of Al PurdyFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:608 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.5 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.5 inPublished:October 1, 2000Publisher:Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550172255

ISBN - 13:9781550172256


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pure briliance I can't say enough about how deeply satisfying and utterly thrilling this collection is. It has proven vital to my pwn creative process and it is completely accessible to even the most hardened naysayers of poetry. Required reading.
Date published: 2018-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from yes! One of the last things Al Purdy worked on before his death last year (1999? or was it 2000? I forget the exact date) was a definitive edition of his collected poems; he helped select these, and wrote a preface. Coming just a few years after a previous anthology of his work, this edition incorporates much material from Purdy's later years, including his touching and apt lament for his friend Charles Bukowski. All the Purdy poems that I've come to love over the years are here; he writes with humour, warmth, and a delightful curmudgeonism, and with a great awareness of region and history, as they inform his experience of life in Canada. There are many very funny moments, like "When I sat down to play the piano," about Purdy being accosted by dogs with an "inexplicable taste for human excrement" when attempting to take a bowel movement in the snow in the Canadian north; but also much that is profoundly moving and true. Purdy's great gift is to take a mundane experience, rooted in a very concrete particular, and make of it something of universal human significance (for example, "Flat Tire in the Desert," which is about mortality). He was one of Canada's finest writers and this book is a worthy testament to that.
Date published: 2017-08-23

Read from the Book

PREFACEThis is my last book. Sam Solecki is the editor, and now seems a good time to thank him, for that and many other reasons. And to thank Eurithe for many many reasons. I said to her a moment ago, "What does it feel like to live with someone who writes poems most of his life and yours?"She said, "To me it feels normal. I can't compare it with anything else. It was a life."Sure it was a life. But can't I wring even a modest superlative out of her like: "Al, it was wonderful! I loved every minute of it!" Couldn't she lie a little just to make me happy? I tell you, it's maddening to live with a woman who always has to tell the truth, as if it hurts her in the esophagus or eardrum or in her instep to exaggerate just a wee bit. I tell her shut up then, I got this very important document to write, outlining my Philosophy and World View of the Hereafter.So I'm left alone to talk with a bunch of ghosts, at least people I can't see, potential readers, past readers, people who can't stand my stuff (no, they can't read anyway). But there are a few, I guess. And now I have a subject. I've reached age 80, and I started to write at 13. Now I hafta make an embarrassed confession: I feel the same way Eurithe does: I can't compare our lives with any others. (But I hate women who're always right like that.)It was a life, she said. And I thought it was a pretty good one. We did what we wanted to do, went where we wanted to go. I wrote the way I liked, and kidded myself some of it was pretty good. We were broke - and I mean nearly penniless - a few times in earlier days. A few times, for god's sake? Nearly always. There were periods when I was so depressed I felt like suicide -: having failed at everything I tried to do. But we pulled out of it, with some difficulty. And those periods I called "The Bad Times" seem to me now something like Triumph. "Don't you think so, dear?""They were horrible. You should have committed suicide."What are ya gonna do with a woman like that?Anyway, yes, it was a life. I wouldn't have wanted any other.Al PurdySidney, BC / Ameliasburg, Ontario 1999Purdy's Last Poem: "Both Her Gates East and West"Wanderings in Canada in the centurybefore the Millennium . . .This is where I came towhen my body left its bodyand my spirit stayedin its spirit homeBeside the seething Fundy watersmy friend sleepsand wrote this message for me"I'll wait for you in the westTill your sun comes down for its setting"That grand summer in Newfoundlandwhen we feasted on wild raspberriesbakeapples Screech and salmonwalked four miles in the rain(you blamed me for) to L'Anse aux Meadowswhere Helge Ingstad and Anne Stinewere digging up Leif the Lucky's ruinstalked to them an hourwhile I watched the Viking shipand horned heads leaping ashorereflected in Ingstad's blue eyesOn Baffin Islandnorth of summer and summercomes again with every flowera river where I slept a moment's hourto dream and plucked white blossomsand sent them searching for youfrom that island of lost memoryare the flowers still searching?Quebec was summer in MontrealCùte des Neiges and St. Joseph'swith Brother Andre's heartpickled in alcoholwhere I climbed the steps in winter"the lame and the halt and the blind"climbed in summerin search of Brother Andre's miracleand threw away their crutchesOn a green island in OntarioI learned about being humanbuilt a house and found the womanand we shall be there foreverbuilding a house that is never finishedCamped by the South Saskatchewanall day we listened to voiceswe heard inside ourselvesthe river like a blue braceletwhere the Metis fought their last battleDumont Letendre and old Ouellettetheir ghosts came to us in sleepas white mist moved over our bodiesthe river flowed into the skyIn the Alberta prairie badlandscamped by the vanished Bearpaw Seain Dinosaur Provincial Parkafter the campground closed in fallwe wander NO TRESPASSING badlands- the white light suddenly changesto brown sepia twilightwe're 75 million years back in timebeasts like bad dreams ramp around uswith bodies we can see throughtransparent in the sepia sunand Canada becomes a very old countrythe Rocky Mountains fold themselves upwardgiants rising slowlyand we are children againThrough the Crow's Nest mountainsat age 17the freight train a black caterpillarclimbing climbing climbingvertebrae chattering up the mountainsred coal cinders blackening my faceriding the high catwalks riding the emptieslike bugs like dwarfs like boys pretendingthey're men halfway high as the mountains gobelow us valleys bathed in sunlightglowing enchanted valleysand I came to believe we were beloved therebeloved in a land fortunate of itselfbeneath black cinders on our faceswe glowed in turn from the soul's well-beingwhile I tried to explain myself to myselfthe simple earth and sky-searching mountainswere things I never could explainFlying north and following the MackenzieRiver long after the Scots explorerendless forest then endless empty landwe seemed to hang between earth and skythen a monster hand with a hundred fingersspreading itself over the river deltaand a permafrost town still Canadathe Beaufort Sea beyondwhere the world was blue forever- comes the millennium into our brief livesI suppose it's like a kid growing upto see the parts of your own countrylike a jigsaw that suddenly comes togetherand turns into a complete pictureyou've touched nearly all the partsyou've become a certain kind of adultand the ordinary places become endearmentsthat slip into your mind and grow thereand you change into what you already arein a country you can wear like an old overcoatJoseph's coat of many coloursThe millennium really makes little differenceexcept as a kind of unsubtle reminder ofthe puzzle that is yourself and always changingthe country that you wandered like a strangerbut stranger no longeryourself become undeniable to yourselfwearing the lakes and rivers towns and citiesa country that no man can comprehendJoseph's coat turned inside outnow indistinguishable from your own innards- a country that no man may comprehendasking the same questions as in ages pasttime measurable by the tick-tock of millenniumsand if by chance we are not alonesome traveller on another planetmay catch a glimpse of us sometimeslooking outward into the night sky