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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On my workroom wall

A Purdy poem of which I am very fond  is On My Workroom Wall, first published in 'Naked with Summer in your Mouth' in 1994. It's like Al is showing the reader around his writing shed, and as we do when we share those things which amuse and inspire us, revealing himself. It's a wonderful meditation on inspiration, and how to hold onto people and moments of grace. On his wall he gathers around him Gabrielle Roy, Margaret Laurence, Harold Ballard ("his cane spanking the world in geriatric rage"), "Acorn of course", Tiff Findley, Atwood, Eurithe and many dead poets.

I can't quote it all, and it would lose a great deal
if I cut out just my favourite bits.

Try to find a moment today to reread it. Here's an invitation to the conversation:

"I have gathered them all together
like a casual group of strangers
at this meeting place under my roof
who will never meet again
their only relationship supplied by me
who told them to come here
to wait and be silent on my wall
while I contemplate
not their nature but my own

and know as much about myself
by proxy as from looking deep
into the mirror of what I am"

Each time I visit the now-empty shed, I have to remind myself that much of the writing of this prolific and important Canadian poet was created in this tiny reclaimed structure, modified by the hand of the poet and his good woman.

And when I read Al's work, my feelings mirror what he felt of his inspiration, D.H.Lawrence: "Two original Lawrence letters/both so alive he can't be dead..."

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