Tell me, how do I write better poetry? You can't? I'm not surprised. You can write it yourself but damned if you can tell someone else how, your classes to the contrary.
The truth is none of us who write poetry should allow ourselves to make public critiques of the others, not in a small country like this where we know each other too well.
This collection of letters illustrates the long friendship between two of Canada's most highly regarded poets, Earle Birney and Al Purdy. Beginning with Purdy's lauding of, and jabbing at, a poet he admired but had never met, it captures the changing relationship between the writers, each of whom was fiercely committed to the other's work. The letters are full of mutual praise and stern criticism, as Purdy and Birney, relentless in their pursuit of poetic success, look to each other for advice and share their many dissatisfactions with the literary life. We Go Far Back in Time is an intimate look into the lives of two great poets who found common ground in their writing and in the changing fortunes of their literary careers.