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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Al in Toronto...and my study

Voice of the Land
 I'm still processing the events of February 26, the night of the Purdy A-frame project fund-raising gala at Koerner Hall. Exquisitely orchestrated and performed, generations of poets, and other artists celebrating our man Al...planning for the future.

Before the show, we visited Al's statue in Queen's Park.  Our man from Ameliasburgh sits in deep thought, pen ready to hand in its pocket protector, tactfully ignoring the foolishness going on nearby in the red sandstone legislature.

At dinner later in the Duke of York pub, I noticed some young folk talking poetry. Encouraging, I thought. Turned to delight later when those "young folk" turned out to be writers Moez Surani, Gillian Savigny and Leigh Kotsilidis, on stage as part of the tribute.

I am writing an article for a local magazine about schools, teachers, and students who keep the poetry and the poet alive, in Al's old neighbourhoods. I want to call it Voice of the Young. The big screen welcoming us into Koerner featured a woodcut by Centennial High School's own Amanda L. Later, two of my photos popped up in the montage.
exquisite Koerner Hall
Ameliasburgh was never far away. Earlier in the week, Jean Baird asked me to bring Al's Harris Tweed jacket with us. George Bowering...or as it turned out, George Goodwin...cut a fine figure in it. Provided one didn't approach too closely.  The A-frame's unique scent permeated the coat...and my car... for days.

John Reeves photos - 'my' Al, second from right
On this stage (from our third row seats)  we enjoyed...such a show. Words fail. My wonderful new/old  friend Katherine Sedgewick did a fine job of capturing the experience of our evening among the rumpled in her post in the delightful Meanwhile, at the Manse.

The silent auction was outstanding. The work involved with organizing it - and the entire event - leaves me awestruck. How do people do that?

The work of preserving the A-frame for future writers goes is always needed. The event's silent auction offered a vast array of artistically and emotionally appealing items: signed first editions, artwork, and John Reeves photos. My favourite, the photo of Al walking along the evocative old Valley Road near Grove cemetery where lay his inspiration, and now his 'mortal remains,' made it home with me.

Al wandered here searching for Owen Roblin. I do that whenever I visit. The photo was overlooked by many not recognizing the significance, or wanting a more 'in your face' Al portrait. Resonance? You bet.

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