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Poetry Canadian

Beyond Forgetting

Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy

edited by Howard White & Emma Skagen

foreword by Steven Heighton

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Oct 2018
Canadian, Anthologies (multiple authors), General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2018
    List Price

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“... without a doubt the greatest poet English Canada has ever produced.”

—Dennis Lee

“A hundred years from now, one of the few Canadian poets whose work will still be read will be Al Purdy.”


Al Purdy (1918–2000), known as Canada’s unofficial poet laureate, wrote poetry that anyone could read. Having come from working-class roots with little in terms of formal education, he wrote in a colloquial style and with a rowdy yet sensitive poetic persona that has captured the hearts of many. Purdy was exceptional in the attention he paid to the geography and history of Canada; rather than using his Canada Council grant to write from Europe like many of his contemporaries, he took a trip to Canada’s Arctic where he wrote some of his most well-loved poems. His self-built A-frame in the Ontario township of Ameliasburgh also connected him to the land and history of that place, a literary legacy that lives on through the A-frame writer-in-residence program.

Purdy wrote over three dozen collections of poems, two memoirs, a novel, a number of collections of his correspondence and anthologies. He was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry twice, first in 1965 for The Cariboo Horses and then in 1986 for The Collected Poems of Al Purdy. He was an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario. The League of Canadian Poets honoured him with the Voice of the Land Award, created specifically to recognize his tremendous contribution to Canadian poetry.

This collection, created in honour of the poet’s upcoming 100th birthday on December 30, 2018, gathers voices old and new in celebration of the life and work of Al Purdy. Featuring poems by F.R. Scott, Earle Birney, Milton Acorn, Russell Thornton, David Zieroth, Lorna Crozier, Tom Wayman, Phil Hall, George Bowering, Peter Trower, Howard White, Cornelia Hoogland, Doug Beardsley, Patrick Lane, Susan Musgrave, Bruce Cockburn, Rodney DeCroo, Steven Heighton, James Arthur, Sadiqa de Meijer, Nicholas Bradley, Doug Paisley, Autumn Richardson and many more, Beyond Forgetting is guaranteed to move each and every Canadian poetry buff who grazes its pages.

About the authors

Howard White was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC. He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens`), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria. In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon.

Howard White's profile page

Emma Skagen has added her editorial expertise to many bestselling books, including On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement and Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon: Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge. She has also worked on a number poetry collections, including Cornelia Hoogland's highly acclaimed book, Trailer Park Elegy. With Howard White she co-edited the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy. A former bookseller at the legendary Munro's Books in Victoria, Emma now lives in Sechelt, BC.

Emma Skagen's profile page

Steven Heighton's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Al Purdy – whose 100th birthday occurs on December 30 of this year – was undoubtedly an iconic poet, central to the development of what we now know (for better or for worse) as CanLit. His colloquial rhythms gave voice to the working class and disaffected. This collection gathers together a cadre of Canadian poets, both dead and alive, including Steven Heighton, Milton Acorn, Susan Musgrave, F. R. Scott, Patrick Lane, Cornelia Hoogland, and Autumn Richardson – to pay poetic tribute to Canada’s unofficial poet laureate.”

Quill & Quire

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