The More Easily Kept Illusions
The Poetry of Al Purdy
Paper 96 pp.
Online discount: 25%
Much-loved, cantankerous, and brilliant, Al Purdy galloped across the Canadian literary landscape for decades, grandly embodying the self-taught and hard-living image of the 1960s and ’70s poet. The More Easily Kept Illusions: The Poetry of Al Purdy is a selection of thirty-five poems that includes some of his best-loved and unearths lost and ignored treasures.
Robert Budde introduces the collection with an overview of Purdy’s tumultuous life of letters, his legendary personality, his outrageous antics, his peers, his influences, and the history of his publishing career. Reorganizing Purdy’s body of work, this collection also re-interprets the chronological and thematic development of his writing. Choosing poems for a book like this is necessarily an act of literary criticism and Budde takes care to balance the various critical attentions that have structured the historical responses to Purdy’s work. The selected poems will mix lesser-known gems with Purdy’s greatest hits. Teachers, poetry-lovers, students, and writers will rediscover Purdy’s unique voice. Those who are new to his work will get a full and rich sense of the man some have called the last Canadian poet.
Also includes an Afterword by Russell Morton Brown.
Al Purdy’s down-to-earth voice populates thirty-three books, including The Cariboo Horses (1965), North of Summer (1967), Sex & Death (1973), and Piling Blood (1984). The two major collections of his work are The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (1986) and Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (2000). Purdy died in Sidney, BC, on April 21, 2000.
Robert Budde teaches creative writing and critical theory at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. He has published four books (two poetry—Catch as Catch and traffick, and two novels—Misshapen and, most recently, The Dying Poem). He maintains two online literary journals at stonestone.unbc.ca and writingwaynorth.blogspot.com.
Russell Morton Brown is a professor in the department of English at the University of Toronto. An editor for the University of Toronto Quarterly, the editor of The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, and co-editor with Donna Bennett of the New Anthology of Canadian Literature in English, he was also Editorial Director of Poetry at McClelland and Stewart for five years.
“An excellent overview of Purdy’s poetry, with an informative introduction to his career and poetics written by Robert Budde and an afterword by Russell Morton Brown, editor of Purdy’s first Collected Poems, published in 1985, which provides us with an insight into Purdy the man.”
— John Cunningham, Prairie Fire
“The books are fairly slim (ranging from fifty-six to eighty pages), but each provides a decent outline of the respective poet’s career, style, and dominant concerns. The introductory essays are straightforward and informative—they provide a useful interpretive framework for anyone coming to this poetry for the first time. These volumes seem designed for students and educators; each offers a more complete picture of the poet than one would get from an anthology.”
— University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2006
“The poems selected for inclusion...give an honest taste of Purdy, both accessible and convoluted, often at the same time (a rare feat, in my mind)”
— Rob Taylor, PoetryReviews.ca
“The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.”
— Paul Milton, Canadian Literature