OK, I have mixed feelings about the project. Purdy is a remarkable example of a self-educated poet, as Bowering’s 1970s monograph documents, and an encouragement to any young writer to persist no matter how weak one’s early poems. The A-frame is said to have been hammered together mostly by him and his wife, Eurithe. Purdy is the author of numerous remarkable lyrical responses to Canadian places and people. He could also, alas, find humour in misogyny and romance in racism, as well as in the often unrequited labour of eastern Ontario’s U.E.L. settlers. He’s been called by critic Sam Solecki “the last Canadian poet” – i.e. the last to be able to assume that being male, white,
beer-loving and British-descended was the Canadian mainstream. But Solecki could be wrong.
The question of why save his A-frame is also the question of why preserve any building because of its literary associations. In a way such preservation is anti-literary – an act that draws people’s attention to things other than words. Proponents argue that Wordsworth’s house in the Lake District leads one back to his poems – which in a few cases it likely does. But for most visiting a literary house is a way of being literary without having to read – an architectural version of a Readers Digest condensed book for a similarly bourgeois audience. Or it’s an event with