A CanLit tradition that started at the late, lauded poet Al Purdy’s Prince Edward County home will continue with a new poet-in-residence program set to launch in July. Seven Canadian writers have been chosen for the first working retreats at the Al Purdy A-frame, where Purdy wrote many of his most celebrated poems and hosted Canadian authors including Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, H.R. Percy, Michael Ondaatje, and many others.
According to a press release, the first seven residencies, which will take place over the next two years, have been offered to Katherine Leyton, Sue Sinclair, Nick Thran, Kath MacLean, Laurie Graham, Rob Taylor, and Helen Guri. The residencies will take place in the renovated A-frame house on Roblin Lake, originally built in 1957 by Purdy and his wife, Eurithe Purdy.
Biographies of the participants and details on their proposed projects are listed on the program’s website. Participants will work on a variety of writing projects, from poetry to critical essays. Thran will complete work on his third collection as well as an essay incorporating his “experience on Roblin Lake and what it means to be a Canadian poet in today’s social and political environment.” Guri says she will use the residency to work on her second collection of poetry, tentatively titled Oracle. Many will incorporate an element of community engagement into their stay. For example, in addition to working on her own writing, Leyton will promote the work of Purdy and other local poets while traveling throughout the region.
Writers will receive a stipend of $2,500 per month for up to three months while living at the A-frame, and are expected to participate in one public event per month in nearby communities including Picton, Belleville, and Kingston.
Fundraising efforts by the Al Purdy A-frame Association are ongoing. Major donations have been received from the Glasswaters Foundation, the Good Foundation, Avie Bennett, The Metcalf Foundation, George Galt, the Chawkers Foundation, Michael Audain, Jeff Mooney and Suzanne Bolton, Leonard Cohen, Rosemary Tannock, Tom and Helen Galt, the Griffin Foundation, Harbour Publishing, and Yosef Wosk.