The Great Purdyana Auction

Items that were offered for sale at the Al Purdy Show a silent auction, Koerner Hall Toronto, Feb. 6, 2013 7:30 PM.

Over $14,000.00 was raised. If there is something that catches your eye, contact:

The Al Purdy A-frame Association
4403 West 11th Ave.,
Vancouver BC
V6R 2M2.

Some of the books in particular are still available.

 

1 Poems for all the Annettes
by Al Purdy
Signed, 3rd edition jacketed hardcover, Anansi Press, 1973, poems

 

Contact Press first published Poems for all the Annettes in 1962. In The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology, Dennis Lee recounts his visit to the A-frame to discuss the Anansi reprint of Annettes and how he and Al smuggled four new poems into the collection, including “House Guest” and “At the Quinte Hotel.”

 

This is the book in which Al was trying to get out of his normal practice of closed verse,

the rimes and the iambics, the whole mindset of the colonial poet. He was trying lots of

funny stuff on the page, various ways of notation, to loosen the poem, to make it more

specific to his thinking patterns. This collection introduces the comic exaggeration of the Purdian spirit and the persona of the learned but anti-intellectual husband, a bull

in a matrimonial teashop, a person who laughs at current philosophical and psychological

thought and writings, but who, in laughing about them shows that he owns them.

 

Poems for all the Annettes is generally regarded as Purdy’s breakthrough book.

 

Item 1

 

2 A Splinter in the Heart
by Al Purdy
Signed, 1st edition jacketed hardcover, McClelland & Stewart, 1990, novel

 

“Al Purdy’s only novel, A Splinter in the Heart, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that unfolds against the real-life tragedy of what came to be known as the Trenton Disaster. Set in 1918, it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Patrick Cameron and the events that will change him – and the Ontario town in which he lives – forever. Over the course of one summer and fall, Patrick finds love with a girl whose betrayal he cannot foresee, confronts the death of his beloved grandfather, and comes to terms with a neighborhood rival. All the while, his hometown of Trenton lives precariously in the shadow of a dynamite factory, a sinister reminder of the Great War, which brought such prosperity to the town. Vivid with character and event, and evocative of time and place, A Splinter in the Heart is a moving portrait of a young man’s journey into adulthood in an era of change.”

 

The novel is used by the history department of Trenton High School to teach students about local history. Increasingly scarce.

 

3 Sex and Death Signed, 1st edition jacketed hardcover, McClelland & Stewart, 1973, poems

 

Oh, man, the cover of this collection leaves you in no doubt that you are in the 1970s.

 

Behind me in the mountain pass another man

stumbles among rocks and stars

he knows about me and I know about him

we plan to get together sometime

then have a word with you

 

Sex and Death was Al Purdy’s 13th volume of poetry and includes the Hiroshima Poems. It won him the A.J.M. Smith Prize.

 

4 No One Else is Lawrence!
By Doug Beardsley and Al Purdy
Signed by Doug Beardsley and Al Purdy, hardcover, Harbour Publishing, 1998.  Commentaries on D.H. Lawrence poems.  Includes a handwritten poem signed by Al Purdy.  Version E

 

Al was a huge D. H. Lawrence fan. On page 32 of The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology you can see a photograph of the bust of Lawrence that for many years was in Al’s writing room at the A-frame, and eventually had a position on his bedside table. If you mentioned Lawrence to Al you had to be prepared for a conversation that would last for hours.

 

No One Else is Lawrence is exactly that, a conversation. Al sat down with fellow poet Doug Beardsley and over their favourite libations at Victoria’s Waddling Dog pub, they chose a dozen of Lawrence’s very best poems and discussed just why they thought this work outstanding. The result is a brilliant example of how to discuss and explore poetry.

 

Al took 26 of the Harbour soft cover and had them bound, teal with gold lettering. Each copy was lettered and signed by Al. In addition, each copy has a handwritten poem insert, “Winter at Roblin Lake” and a copy of a review of the book. Each copy is lettered and signed by Al and Doug Beardsley, Al’s co-author of the book. This is copy “K”.

5 No One Else is Lawrence!
By Doug Beardsley and Al Purdy
Signed by Doug Beardsley and Al Purdy, Hardcover, Harbour Publishing, 1998.  Commentaries on D.H. Lawrence poems.  No.4/26

 

Al then took another 26 of the Harbour soft cover and had them bound, teal with gold lettering. This edition does not have the bars in gold at the bottom of the spine. Each copy is numbered and signed by Al and Doug Beardsley, Al’s co-author of the book. This copy is numbered “4”

6 Piling Blood
by Al Purdy
Signed, 1st edition hardcover, McClelland & Stewart, 1984. Poems.  Version C.

 

Writers are paper junkies. They just don’t seem able to part with paper, and go out of their way to acquire it. On his deathbed Al gave Susan Musgrave a ream of white typewriter paper. Reluctantly.

 

The first thing many writers do when they go into a hotel room is take the stationery and envelops. Al always did, and Al and Eurithe travelled extensively. The result is a highly unusual collectible.

 

Al took 26 of the M&S soft cover and had them bound by Alex Widen, black with silver splattering—each splattering is different. Each copy was lettered and signed by Al. In addition, each copy has a handwritten poem in an envelope, also lettered and signed by Al. Each book has a different poem on different letterhead.

 

Copy C has “At Lenin’s Tomb” that appears on page 70 of the collection. Two pages on paper from Moscow’s Dollar Store. Dated Oct 3/85

 

 

7 No Other Country
by Al Purdy
Signed, 1st edition jacketed hardcover, McClelland & Stewart, 1977, collected articles.
Includes “Almost being a member of our armed forces” poem in Al Purdy’s handwriting, dated and signed August 24, 1983

 

Al loved this country and travelled it extensively, by freight train, by airplane, driving a camper and on foot. His paternal line traces back to two brothers who were United Empire Loyalists and left Ulster County in New York in the 1830s to settle in the Belleville area. Al explored his own heritage and that of Canada in his poetry. Here the same yard-spinning tone is used to explore the country and its people in prose.

 

In other parts of the world—in Cuba, England, France—Al had felt like a stranger. But wherever he went in Canada, including Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island where the book begins, he always felt at home. No Other Country takes a “long and leisurely gander at Canada and the people who make it what it is” including Irving Layton, Angus Mowat, Roderick Haig-Brown, fishermen, Montreal poets, Armed Forces Search and Rescue personnel in Labrador and men who rode the rails in the Depression.

 

“This is the map of my country, the cartography of myself.”

8 Piling Blood
by Al Purdy
Signed, trade paperback, McClelland & Stewart, 1984. poems.

 

The early title for this collection was Beethoven Weeping. In his correspondence with Purdy during the editing of the book Dennis Lee writes:

 

It is in process towards being a wonderful, wonderful thing—a work of vintage maturity, full of bittersweet candour and wonder and lostness and roots. Poetically, if I may say it, your are entering your “late period”—and I think you’re making all the right moves. Retaining much of what you’ve done, but also pushing into new Purdy terrain; technically I think of things like the moving in and out of blank verse in “Menelaus and Helen,” or the move to quatrains; and in sensibility there are new notes too—which are not some chintzy attempt to be a totally new person, but modulations and accessions of new tone which seem to come organically out of having lived another 5 years, another decade.

 

Purdy thought this was one of his best books.

9 In Search of Owen Roblin
by Al Purdy, with photographs by Bob Waller
Signed, 1st edition, jacketed hardcover, McClelland & Stewart, 1974, poems

 

This long poem is Al’s search for his “ancestral roots, for his own past, his own people, his own self. Centred on his home at Roblin Lake, near Ameliasburgh, Ontario, extending to man’s place in history and in the universe.”

 

In search of Owen Roblin

I discovered a whole era

that was really a backward extension of myself

built lines of communication across two centuries

recovered my own past my own people

a long misty chain stretched thru time

of which I am the last but not final link

 

Al Purdy is buried in the Ameliasburgh cemetery, which is at the end of Purdy Lane. His gravestone is a few metres from the gravestone of Owen Roblin.

10 Morning and It’s Summer
by Al Purdy
Signed, limited edition, jacketed hardcover, Quadrant Editions, 1983.  No. 331/350

 

A prose memoir followed by a selection of poems. The title comes from Al’s Governor General’s Award-winning collection, The Cariboo Horses:

 

Morning and the birds sing and wind blows a little

morning and it’s summer—hour after hour

the sun shines hot and there’s a patch of blue

leaning in the window.

11a Pronuncia I Nomi (Say the Names) by Al Purdy Unsigned, 1st edition trade paperback, Italian edition, Longo Editore Ravenna, 1999
with matching titles from the series:
11b Il cacciatore Sconcertato (The Baffled Hunter) by Irving Layton Unsigned, 1st edition trade paperback, Italian edition, Longo Editore Ravenna, 1993.
11c Rosa dei venti (Compass Rose) by P.K. Page Inscribed from Al Purdy to Dione [Brand], 1st edition trade paperback, Italian edition, Longo Editore Ravenna, 1998
11d Il geroglifico finale (The Last Hieroglyph) by Gwendolyn MacEwen Signed, 1st edition trade paperback, Italian edition, Longo Editore Ravenna, 1997.

 

As the title suggests, Italian translations side-by-side the English of each poem. There is a middle section of 15 pages of colour prints by Giuseppe Zigaina. Introduction by Branko Gorjup of York University. Poems include “At the Quinte Hotel” “The Cariboo Horses” “Necropsy of Love” and “Wilderness Gothic.” The four books together is unusual.

 

12 Broadside by Alan Stein “So we built a house” poem.  by Alan Stein
No. 60/125
13 Broadside by Alan Stein “So we built a house” poem.  by Alan Stein
No. 46/125
14 Broadside by Alan Stein “So we built a house” poem.  by Alan Stein
No. 47/125

 

Alan Stein is a painter and a printmaker, concentrating on pastels and charcoal on paper, limited edition books with his own illustrations in wood engraving or stone lithography. Over the years Alan did several projects with Al Purdy. In support of The Al Purdy A-frame Association, Stein produced a limited edition broadside and donated the entire run to the Association. “A limited edition, hand-printed broadside, wood engraving by Alan Stein, text an excerpt from the poem ‘In Search of Owen Roblin’ by Al Purdy. Limited to 125 copies. Cloister Old Style type printed in two colours on Niddegan paper at The Church Street Press, 2009.”

 

If you aren’t lucky enough to win one of these three auction broadsides, there are still some available for purchase through the Al Purdy A-frame Association. Check the website www.alpurdy.ca

 

 

15 Photograph “Canadian Gothic” photograph of Al and Eurithe.

 

Scanning through The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology you’ll notice that Al never had a problem mugging for a camera. But in this picture Eurithe gets pulled into the game. It’s a wonderful shot, Al in one of his Mexican shirts, glass case in pocket. Eurithe in one of her series of giant straw hats—is this the pink one? And a scythe that looks like it could have been used by Owen Roblin himself.

 

Despite much head scratching, and asking all the likely suspects with cameras, we have been unable to verify the photographer.

 

The photograph appears on page 38 of the anthology.

 

14a Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.A
14b Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.K

 

An exquisite broadside combining the poetry of Al Purdy with rare photo-images of Charles Bukowski. Eurithe Purdy has generously donated the last few broadsides that were part of Al’s payment for this project to The Al Purdy A-frame Association.

 

14c Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.10/126
14d Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.12/126
14e Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.24/126
14f Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.49/126
14g Broadside by Sun Dog Press “Lament for Bukowski”, combines poetry of al Purdy with photo-images of Charles Bukowski. No.51/126

 

 

When this project came back from the printer Al noted an error. The second line should read “perne in a gyre.” For the final broadside the error was fixed and a red shadow was added to the text.

 

But Al being Al, he signed, lettered and numbered the first-run.

 

15 Photograph by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright Al Purdy in front of dinosaur painting (3 copies)

 

Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright spent several years photographing B.C writers. The photographs have been shown several times and just recently have been published, along with a one-page piece by the writer, 111 West Coast Literary Portraits

 

Barry Peterson reports, “That look on Al’s face is that he was angry and cold and he didn’t want to stand in front of the dinosaur.  We, including Al & Eurithe, didn’t know at that time that he had lung cancer.  We had already blown one whole day with him the week before and couldn’t get anything but what he described as “corpse like” in one of his letters to us—this time we brought a pack sack of little squeaky toys and a little camera that said ‘smile” when you pressed the button.

 

“He smirked!  and then he said ‘I don’t know whether to feel insulted or to laugh.  Anyway the shutter was released just as he was feeling those feelings of insult to his ego – or – was it just funny?”

 

These prints have been made for The Al Purdy Show and generously donated by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright.

16 Drawing by Heather Spears Of Al Purdy, signed by Al Purdy, 1994

 

Canadian writer and artist Heather Spears was educated at the University of British Columbia, The Vancouver School of Art and the University of Copenhagen. She has lived in Denmark since 1962. She has held over 75 solo exhibitions and published 11collections of poetry and 3 novels of speculative fiction.

 

Spears is well-known for her fluid, live sketches of other writers. In this instance, she asked Al to sign the drawing.

 

The drawing has been donated to the auction by Heather Spears.

17 Photograph by Doug Johnson A-Frame, unannotated

 

The people in Ameliasburgh and the larger community have embraced this project and have organized several fundraising events. Photographer Doug Johnson made these prints for an event in Picton.

18a Photograph by Doug Johnson A-Frame, annotated with quotation from poem by Al Purdy?
18b Photograph by Doug Johnson A-Frame, annotated with quotation from poem by Al Purdy?

 

 

As a result of local interest and concern, the Al Purdy A-frame was put on the list of building of heritage and cultural importance in Prince Edward County in 2012.

 

19 Cartoon by Bob Krieger (cartoonist for The Province in Vancouver) Double sided, original artwork

 

Bob Krieger is the talented cartoonist for The Province in Vancouver. He is also a baseball fan and friend of Jean Baird and George Bowering. When the project first started Jean asked Bob if he would do a cartoon, something that would become the symbol for the Al Purdy A-frame project. The three met several times, reviewed endless photographs of Al and talked about ideas. Nothing was coming together for Bob.

 

One day Jean received an email from Bob, “I’ve got an idea.” Bob played with the idea a bit—that’s why there is a cartoon on both sides—but once he hit on the idea of turning the A-frame into an upended book he knew he had nailed it.

 

Of course, he also had to include a stubby.

 

Bob Krieger has donated the cartoon to the auction.

20 Woodcut Print of A-Frame by Amanda Lowthian Black & White, 7.5″ x 8″

 

Amanda Lowthian is an art and drama student at Belleville High School and a member of the Purdy Society. She created this woodcut for the fundraising event in Picton.

21 Let Us Compare Mythologies by Leonard Cohen 1st edition, jacketed hardcover (dust jcket torn along entire front spine edge), Contact Press edition, 1956. With Leonard Cohen’s name and address in Montreal pencilled on front inside flap.

 

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Or these days, even once in a lifetime. A very rare first edition copy of Leonard Cohen’s first book published by the famous Contact Press. Contact Press also published the first edition of Poems for all the Annettes.

 

This edition is not mint. If it were it would be valued at upwards of $15,000. But there is a curious detail about this copy—in a neat hand, on the side flap of the dust jacket is Cohen’s name and address. We have checked this signature with several antiquarian booksellers who have signed copies of other Cohen books. We have also checked with a poet who is a lifetime correspondent of Cohen. They all believe that the name and address were written by Cohen.

 

It is a habit with many writers to put their name and address inside their reading copy of a book. That way the book is unlikely to be sold in error at a reading. It is possible that this copy was Cohen’s own reading copy.

 

Donated by David Helwig.

22 Original pigment printdrawing by Leonard Cohen Tango couple, 2012, 12″ x 15″, “I sit with the old men/watching you dance watching you dance. 1/50.  With certificate of authenticity.

 

Cohen is best known as a poet and musician, but he is also a visual artist. In the last few years the poet and artist seem to be merging on projects as evidenced by Cohen’s most recent poetry collection, which is as much art, and illustration as poetry.

 

Leonard Cohen donated tango couple to The Al Purdy Show auction.

 

 

24 Al Purdy’s Mexican shirt Together with photos of Al wearing the shirt.

 

Al loved Mexican shirts. He had a pale yellow one but his favourite was this white one. Imagine the fun you could have with this? You could wear it, as does Steven Heighton with his Al Purdy shirt. Or you could have it framed with a collage of the many photographs of Al wearing it. Either way, this item is a conversation piece.

25 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy outside A-Frame with a loaf of Wonderbread, a bottle of Al’s homemade wild grape wine and a photo of Eurithe, wisely absent.
26 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy at typewriter, in his writing room at the A-frame
27 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy in Quinte Hotel with beer in hand
28 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy with bottle in front
29 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy in cemetery in front of the grave of Owen Roblin
30 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, Purdy in cemetery standing beside gravestone
31 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, under tree
32 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, walking along country road
33 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, at Quinte Hotel playing pool. Wait; did Al really play pool left-handed?
34 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, at Quinte Hotel being served beer
35 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, windblown by Roblin Lake
36 Photograph by John Reeves 13″ x 19″, 1965, black and white, standing in stone fence

 

In November 1965 photographer John Reeves made a visit to the A-frame. He was there to photograph Al for a magazine article. Only a few photos from that day have ever been published, including the one that appears on page 63 of The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology. At the request of Jean Baird, Reeves went through his archive and selected twelve photographs from the shoot.  Al at Roblin Lake, at the gravesite of Owen Roblin, and in front of the A-frame. Reeves was clearly on a mission.

 

But what was astonishing were the three photographs that were taken, late in the day, at the Quinte hotel. To our knowledge, confirmed by Eurithe, these are the only photographs ever taken of Al at the Quinte, the inspiration behind one of his most famous poems, “At the Quinte Hotel.” The photographs predate the publication of the poem; Dennis Lee speculates that Purdy was probably working on drafts at the time the photographs were taken (the manuscript of the poem at the Queen’s archive is undated. Lee and Purdy fudged the manuscript dates in order to include the poem in the Anansai edition of Annettes).

 

Did you ever imagine the barkeep wearing a bow tie?

 

Annette Murray Collection

 

The title poem in Poems for all the Annettes is “Poem For One of The Annettes.”

 

Which one of you?—oh now

I recognize that tear-stained pro-

Semitic nose shaped wonderfully for

your man Murray’s kisses

 

Annette Murray was a lifetime friend of Al and Eurithe Purdy. The following is from the Globe and Mail obituary after her death in February 2012: “Montreal of the l950s and 60s was ‘Anna’s time’, and she helped to define Montreal of those years. A sometimes-single mother, she was much involved in the music and literary scene. She and her folk singer husband, Jim Murray, worked and partied with Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Josh White, Oscar Brand, Allan Mills, Wade Hemsworth (The Little Black Fly) and Ed McCurdy.”

 

http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/Deaths.20120225.93287424/BDAStory/BDA/deaths

 

In Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, Purdy recounts an hilarious visit that he and Annette made to  visit Milton Acorn. Milton was quite smitten with Annette.

 

The following books, all signed to Annette, have been generously donated by Annette’s estate. Some of these books are in mint condition. Others are a mess. Most are in between. But this is a one of a kind collection with an extraordinary affiliation. The collection also includes a photo of Annette from her Montreal days.

 

 

Emu, Remember!, Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1956. Signed, “For Henry & Annette– / May they never declare / a winner — / Al Purdy”

 

Poems for all the Annettes, Contact Press 1st edition, 1962.  Signed, “The most important  / /one—Which? / Love  / Al”

 

Wild Grape Wine, M&S, 1968. Signed, “One or either — / & both — / eh ? ! — / A. W. Purdy / Best”

 

Poems for all the Annettes, Anansi PB, 1973. Signed, “For Annette / this being (?) in between / best wishes / Al Purdy”

 

In Search of Owen Roblin, M&S, 1974. Signed, “For Annette / all best wishes / Al Purdy”

 

The Poems of Al Purdy: A New Canadian Library Selection, M&S, 1976. Signed, “For the young lovers / who move my heart / to an ecstacy of / thankfulness / for A & J – from / Al Purdy”

 

The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, M&S, 1986. Winner of the Governor General’s Award, sticker on cover. Signed, “Annette / with best wishes / Al Purdy.”

 

A Splinter in the Heart, M&S, 1990. Signed, “For Annette / with best / wishes / Al Purdy”

 

Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, Harbour, 1993. Signed, “For Annette / all best wishes / Al Purdy”

 

Beyond Remembering, Harbour, 2000. Signed, “For Annette and Jim / With love / Eurithe.”

 

Alan Stein woodcuts

 

“Say the Names”

 

A poem from the last years of Al’s life, and a splendid one.

 

–not the flat borrowed imitations

of foreign names

not Brighton Windsor Trenton

but names that ride the wind

Spillimacheen and Nahanni

Kleena Kleene and Horsefly

Illecillewaet and Whachamcaallit

Lillooet and Kluane

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

 

The broadside, is 10”x 20″ and is hand printed, letterpress, with a wood engraving. Stein printed 60 originals which are now all sold but this is one of the artists proofs and is signed by Al.

 

Home Country woodblocks

 

The wood engravings are from the book “Home Country” 25 selected poems by Al Purdy. Stein hand printed this book and illustrated it, in collaboration with Al. The edition size was 105 copies but they are also all sold out. These are 4 of the engravings from that book, the poem “Say The Names” was first published in this limited edition book, which won a First Prize for book design in Canada from the Alcuin Society.