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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

"Yours, Al": CanPo gossip then (and now)

Hi James,
I'm pretty sure I copied you on my report on the meeting Terry & I had with Howard Aster a few weeks ago re the 'second' Mosaic book on Milt (the Festschrift, or more accurately when it's posthumous, the Gedenkschrift). Howard seems keen on the book, & so far we've collected material from 20 - 25 contributors.

Terry & I chatted briefly yesterday (St. Patty's Day). I was beginning to feel we are losing momentum with the second book, but Terry said he believes the lull in activity is because so many contributors are professors, & it's now mid-semester & 'busy time' for them. I hope this is an accurate assessment, as we all know how crucial this book will be to continuing the resurrection of Milt. Also Bruce Meyer has been very ill (Howard eagerly accepted our recommendation of adding him as an editor).

Part of why I signed on for the project is to maintain & re-establish contact with other poets, & in the past few weeks this aspect has been very enjoyable. I've exchanged a # of emails with our old friend, Sheila Martindale, who's now out in Victoria. Last week I finally reconnected with George Miller (& thus Don Cullen). George is looking to buy a place outside of TO, & we spent a day or so looking at properties in the Marmora area. There's a very affordable power of sale about to come on the market in the village ($80K on a very desirable street!), & I'm hoping George will buy it & join our gang of local literary miscreants.

A sooprise just arrived by snail mail. A letter from Wayne, asking if we can be friends again? He's very open about his conviction & jail time, & has written extensively about this & god knows what else ... Hmmmm on this for the time being ...

Chase & I had a great visit in TO, & Sylvia & I enjoyed our usual whirlwind of dog walks, seeing Jim Christy's play, JACKIE & JACK, N. Viet dinner with Terry & Kent Bowman, etc. . On a seasonal wardrobe updating mission to the local Value Village (VV), I found a pristine copy of YOURS, AL, the collected letters of Al Purdy, edited by Sam Solecki in 2004  ... cost me $3.99!!!

I immediately found a letter between Milt & Al, in which Milt proclaims his First Nations heritage, & dubious as that may be, it was a key part of Milt's personality, which is what
the letter emphasizes. If we need to, we can fill in potential gaps in the second Milt book from sources such as this book, altho this would be a last resort.

Have you read the book? I'm about a third of the way thru. Some letters I've read twice, & many I just skim over. Lots of great stuff - it's such a Who's Who of that era of CanLit & CanPo (Purdy uses the term CanPo - I thought I'd invented it, & Conrad DiDiodato once even credited me with this on his blog - sorry, Conrad, but Big Al was there decades before me).

Anyway, I'm hoping to do some sort of book review on my  blog of YOURS, AL when I've finished reading it. The blog is now averaging over 100 hits a day, which is very gratifying (altho not as ego stroking as it could be, as most of the visits are on postings other than my writings - altho the good news is that recently almost all the daily top 5 hits have been on postings about Milt!).  I've explained to Terry that getting Milt a major internet presence is probably more important for his legacy than publishing more printed books, but of course both types of exposure overlap & reinforce each other.

Anyway, I'm very interested in your opinion of YOURS, AL. So far there hasn't been a lot of correspondence between Milt & Al in it. When I mentioned this to Terry, querying
if this was a deliberate omission of Milt on Solecki's part, Terry replied that Solecki prob. just didn't think Milt was that important, that Solecki's focus was on the great poet, Big Al.
As I'm only a third of the way thru, I can't fully comment yet on Milt's role in the book, but again, would love to know your opinions* on the book, etc. . 

Trust all well with you & Norma? All as healthy with Chase & me as can be expected of a 14 - 15 yr-old dog & his crazy 'golden age' human  :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffff! (who's old! - you just about passed out on the trail today, while I RAN ahead - looking for help?)

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March 19, 2013

Dear Chris & Chase,

            Many thanks for your big e-mail of late last night. I have never read Yours, Al. I do, however, know that there was a lot of correspondence between Milt and Al over the decades. As an aside, I have never respected Sam Solecki even though I know Big Al liked the fellow. It is quite likely that Milt was either one-eighth or one-sixteenth Indian, depending if Mary Musich or Musick (1827 – 1914) was a full-blooded Micmac or not. Milt was born 9 years after his great-grandmother died, so he never knew her. He liked to think of her as a full-blooded Micmac, but who knows?

Happy Spring!
...James (Deahl), Norma & Rocky

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