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list price: $22.95
category: Poetry
published: Oct 2018
publisher: Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.

Beyond Forgetting

Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy

edited by Howard White & Emma Skagen, foreword by Steven Heighton

tagged: canadian, anthologies (multiple authors)

“... without a doubt the greatest poet English Canada has ever produced.”

—Dennis Lee

“A hundred years from now, one of the few Canadian poets whose work will still be read will be Al Purdy.”


Al Purdy (1918–2000), known as Canada’s unofficial poet laureate, wrote poetry that anyone could read. Having come from working-class roots with little in terms of formal education, he wrote in a colloquial style and with a rowdy yet sensitive poetic persona that has captured the hearts of many. Purdy was exceptional in the attention he paid to the geography and history of Canada; rather than using his Canada Council grant to write from Europe like many of his contemporaries, he took a trip to Canada’s Arctic where he wrote some of his most well-loved poems. His self-built A-frame in the Ontario township of Ameliasburgh also connected him to the land and history of that place, a literary legacy that lives on through the A-frame writer-in-residence program.

Purdy wrote over three dozen collections of poems, two memoirs, a novel, a number of collections of his correspondence and anthologies. He was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry twice, first in 1965 for The Cariboo Horses and then in 1986 for The Collected Poems of Al Purdy. He was an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario. The League of Canadian Poets honoured him with the Voice of the Land Award, created specifically to recognize his tremendous contribution to Canadian poetry.

This collection, created in honour of the poet’s upcoming 100th birthday on December 30, 2018, gathers voices old and new in celebration of the life and work of Al Purdy. Featuring poems by F.R. Scott, Earle Birney, Milton Acorn, Russell Thornton, David Zieroth, Lorna Crozier, Tom Wayman, Phil Hall, George Bowering, Peter Trower, Howard White, Cornelia Hoogland, Doug Beardsley, Patrick Lane, Susan Musgrave, Bruce Cockburn, Rodney DeCroo, Steven Heighton, James Arthur, Sadiqa de Meijer, Nicholas Bradley, Doug Paisley, Autumn Richardson and many more, Beyond Forgetting is guaranteed to move each and every Canadian poetry buff who grazes its pages.

About the Authors

Howard White

Emma Skagen has added her editorial expertise to many bestselling books, including On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement and Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon: Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge. She has also worked on a number poetry collections, including Cornelia Hoogland's highly acclaimed book, Trailer Park Elegy. With Howard White she co-edited the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy. A former bookseller at the legendary Munro's Books in Victoria, Emma now lives in Sechelt, BC.

STEVEN HEIGHTON’s most recent books are the novel The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep (Hamish Hamilton, 2017) and the poetry collection The Waking Comes Late (House of Anansi Press, 2016), which received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. He is also the author of the novel Afterlands, which was published in six countries, was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and was a “best of year” selection from ten publications in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. The novel has also been optioned for film by Pall Grimsson and is currently in pre-production. His other poetry collections include The Ecstasy of Skeptics and The Address Book. His fiction and poetry have been translated into ten languages, have appeared in the London Review of Books, Tin House, Poetry, Brick, the Independent, the Literary Review, and The Walrus Magazine, among others; have been internationally anthologised in Best English Stories, Best American Poetry, The Minerva Book of Stories, and Best American Mystery Stories; and have won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, the Gerald Lampert Award, the K.M. Hunter Award, the P.K. Page Founders’ Award, the Petra Kenney Prize, the Air Canada Award, and four gold National Magazine Awards. In addition, Heighton has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Journey Prize, the Moth Prize, and Britain’s W.H. Smith Award. Heighton is also a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review.

Editorial Review

“Al Purdy – whose 100th birthday occurs on December 30 of this year – was undoubtedly an iconic poet, central to the development of what we now know (for better or for worse) as CanLit. His colloquial rhythms gave voice to the working class and disaffected. This collection gathers together a cadre of Canadian poets, both dead and alive, including Steven Heighton, Milton Acorn, Susan Musgrave, F. R. Scott, Patrick Lane, Cornelia Hoogland, and Autumn Richardson – to pay poetic tribute to Canada’s unofficial poet laureate.”

— Quill & Quire

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