Al Purdy at One Hundred (15 May 2016)

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Nicholas Bradley (University of Victoria)
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Al Purdy at One Hundred (essay collection)

Al Purdy (1918–2000) would have turned one hundred at the end of 2018. To mark the centennial anniversary of his birth, a collection of essays is proposed. The contents will offer original interpretations of Purdy's works, his career and accomplishments, and his continued influence on Canadian writers. The major study to date of Purdy's poetry, Sam Solecki's The Last Canadian Poet, was published in 1999, and the most recent volume of essays on Purdy, The Ivory Thought, was published in 2008. The timeliness of a new account is suggested by critical reassessments of modern Canadian poetry and postwar Canadian literature; by the enduring academic and public interest in Purdy's life and works; and by the ongoing scholarly examination of documents in his archives. The stunning news concerning the circumstances of his death suggests how much remains to be understood about the poet's life and times. Contributors to the volume will include leading commentators on Purdy's works; the views of younger critics are especially welcome.

Chapters may focus on the following topics among others:

• Beyond "At the Quinte Hotel": Purdy's neglected books and poems.
• Overlooked genres: Purdy as playwright, novelist, journalist, correspondent.
• Institutional Al: Purdy and the Canada Council, the CBC, the NFB.
• Purdy's intellectual climate: Frye, McLuhan, Grant, Innis, Creighton, Massey, Bissell.
• Purdy in the university and schools: Purdy as teacher, teaching Purdy's works.
• Anthologies, anthologists.
• Purdy on tape: recordings, interviews, television, films.
• Purdy's publics: audience and readership past and present, in Canada and elsewhere.
• Purdy's critics and scholarly consensus.
• Editing Purdy: what remains to be done?
• Biographical puzzles: childhood, fatherhood, the early years, late developments.
• Purdy and contemporary events: his political imagination.
• Gender and sexuality.
• Purdy and theory.
• Purdy's forms and styles reconsidered.
• Purdy's cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver.
• Purdy and Indigenous Canada.
• Purdy, Trudeau, and the Just Society.
• The next one hundred years? Purdy in the twenty-first century.

Expressions of interest are due by 15 May 2016. Completed chapters will be due in January 2017. The manuscript will be submitted to a university press for review in 2017. Please send an abstract (300 words), a tentative title, and a brief CV. Questions and proposals may be directed to Nicholas Bradley (Department of English, University of Victoria): nbradley@uvic.ca.