Inside The Library: Purdy A-frame welcomes writers-in-residence

Legendary poet Al Purdy lived in Ameliasburgh and his A-frame cottage on Roblin Lake was a mecca for poets, poetry lovers, aspiring poets and those just wanting to talk about poetry. The famous — Margaret Atwood, Earle Birney, George Bowering, Margaret Laurence and Dennis Lee — to drop a few names, and the not-so-famous passed through, experiencing the famous hospitality of the Purdys.

Today the door is still open and for a few months each year writers soak up the atmosphere and are once again inspired in that now famous A-frame.

The A-frame writer-in-residence program, established in 2013, operates from April to November and accepts applications from writers from all over the country. This spring, those who attended our “County Reads More” heard from Tim Falconer.

Falconer talked about his recent book Bad Singer: The Surprising Science of Tone Deafness and How We Hear Music. He has written on a variety of topics from our love-hate relationship with the car (Drive) to end-of-life ethics (That Good Night). While at the A-frame, Tim was working on a history of the 1905 Stanley Cup and how Canada fell in love with hockey.

The second writer-in-residence this year is Maria Sabaye Moghaddam. I met Maria last week when she attended a reading at the Picton branch by Helen Humphreys. She is charming, friendly and clearly enjoying her time in Prince Edward County. I understand from David Simmonds (the chair of the Wellington Friends of the Library) that she also attended their event at the Wellington branch with Frances Itani. I am sure that when she returns to her Ottawa home after her stint here in the county she will find it a little dull by comparison! Maria, born and raised in Iran, has published three books and over 100 articles, interviews and stories.

Her plan while at the A-frame is to work on a collection of short stories reflecting on the daily lives of ordinary people in Iran — the stories she says “that often go unnoticed in presence of big news.” This promises to be a very interesting afternoon on June 21, upstairs at 3 p.m. in Picton branch library.

Please join us. Dr. Jeffrey Weingarten will take up residence after Maria. He is a professor of language and liberal studies at Fanshawe College in London. His first book, Sharing the Past: The Reinvention of History in Canadian Poetry since 1960, will be released by the University of Toronto Press early in 2019. Jeffrey credits Purdy with playing a pivotal role in the reinvention of historical writing in that Purdy, as a poet, embraced the notion of social history.

Social history by definition pays attention to the personal stories or the everyday lives of Canadians. Historical accounts drawing from social history are less academic and more appealing to the general reader. Jeffrey’s talk:” The Poet-Historian: How Al Purdy’s Generation Reinvented the Writing of History,” promises to be of interest to Purdy fans and those who enjoy history. Please join us in the Wellington branch meeting room on July 4 at 2 p.m. to hear and meet this resident of the Purdy A-frame.

To don another hat for a moment, I am on the board of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. It is thrilling to be involved with this project that draws so many talented and inspiring writers to Prince Edward County. The library is certainly a beneficiary and through the library, the community. This Sept. 22-23 there will be an open house at the residence. This will be an opportunity for local residents to visit and tour the cottage. If you have an interest in helping with this or other events sponsored by the Al Purdy A-frame Association please contact me at the library 476-5962 or by e-mailing [email protected] or talk to me at one of the upcoming library events.

-Barbara Sweet