Purdy, "the Voice of the Land", died on April 21, 2000 at age 82. If you don't know big Al's poetic story and legacy, you probably shouldn't be reading this blog.
I moved to north Hastings Couny exactly 22 years ago - and Purdy and his poetry, esp. his classic poem, The Country North of Belleville, had much to do with my desire to move to this wild and redneck rural area of Ontario.
For the past two years I've celebrated National Al Purdy Day with small groups of friends. In 2009 a group of Marmora area poets gathered on the covered bridge beside the Crowe River and took turns reading Purdy poems to each other. Last year both Doctor Johns and I drove to the little conservation area in Ameliasburgh where Big Al is buried, and celebrated his day with teacher Michelle L-M's high skool students. Gentle readers, I suggest you do the same. If there isn't a commemoration near you, perhaps just sit in a quiet park or corner of your yard and read some of Purdy's many classic poems.
Following is my tribute to Big Al. It's all true, based on events at the first Purdy Country LitFest (PurdyFest) held in 2007.
And Left a PLace to Stand On: Poems and Essays on Al Purdy (2009)
both collections published by Hidden Brook Press
special thanks to publisher Richard 'Tai' Grove