Private Thomas Leadbeater Turvey is nobody’s idea of a capable recruit. Shifted from regimental pillar to post, Turvey tries and fails at every odd job in the army with a remarkable genius for mishap.
A casualty before he has a chance to see action, Turvey watches the maimed and dying return from the front; thus Earle Birney’s comic masterpiece becomes an unforgettable indictment of war.
Turvey won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 1949.
About the authors
Earle Birney was a poet, novelist, and playwright whose experimental instincts drove him to create some of Canada's most diverse and recognizable poetry, including the oft-anthologized 'Anglosaxon Street', and 'David', which is often considered the most popular Canadian poem of all time. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Birney was raised on a farm before embarking on an academic career, attending the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of London, where his interest in Old and Middle English led to a reputation as an accomplished scholar of medieval literature. After serving as a personnel officer in WWII, Birney took a professorship at the University of British Columbia, where he spent twenty years travelling, writing, and teaching. In 1965, Birney became the first Writer in Residence at the University of Toronto, mentoring new, up-and-coming poets and branching out into new and experimental forms.
Birney died in Toronto in 1995 after an impressive career spanning several decades, over twenty books of poetry, two Governor General's Awards, and several plays, novels, short stories, and works of non-fiction.
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 and .
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.
Excerpt: Turvey (by (author) Earle Birney; afterword by Al Purdy)
Turvey Is Enlisted
Number Eight was a drawing of an envelope addressed to Mr. John Brown, 114 West 78th., New York, N.Y. It had a New York postmark but no stamp. The squeaky sergeant had told them to draw in the missing part of each picture. Turvey licked his pencil point and tried to recall whether King George had a beard.
He had finished the stamp, except for one edge of perforation, when he remembered the American postmark. It ought to be George Washington.
Other titles by Earle Birney
Other titles by Al Purdy
Laurier Poetry Pack #5
Laurier Poetry Pack #4
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
We Go Far Back in Time
The Letters of Earle Birney and Al Purdy, 1947-1984
Poems for All the Annettes
The Al Purdy A Frame Anthology
The More Easily Kept Illusions
The Poetry of Al Purdy
The Collected Letters of Al Purdy
Necropsy of Love
The Collected Poems of Al Purdy