Quill and Quire


« Back to Omni

New Al and Eurithe Purdy Poetry Prize to honour Canadian poets

Al Purdy (Glionna D’Arcy)

Eurithe Purdy, Al Purdy’s widow, has announced the creation of a major new Canadian literary prize to honour poets “who embody exceptional talent and a profound connection to the Canadian spirit, a spirit that Purdy so memorably captured in his works.”

The winner of the inaugural Al and Eurithe Purdy Poetry Prize of $10,000 for the best new book of poetry in Canada will be announced on April 21 – the 24th anniversary of the poet’s death.

“Al and I enjoyed a long and wonderful career together subsisting on the meagre earnings of poetry and benefitted greatly from numerous awards that both buoyed our morale and helped pay the rent,” says Eurithe Purdy, who is 99. “I have always wanted to return the favour and help support new generations of Canadian poets. It gives me great satisfaction to finally be in that position and I know Al would be thrilled as well.”

This year, Purdy is working with several leading authorities to select a winner from new works published in the past two years.

Future prizes will be decided by a panel of judges. The administrators of the Purdy estate are working with Purdy to establish a permanent structure for the annual prize. She has established an endowment to guarantee the annual award for “exceptional Canadian poets and fostering a lasting appreciation for poetry excellence,” according to the press release. Details of the structure will be confirmed in advance of next year’s competition in April 2025.

The award celebrates the legacy of Al Purdy who has been called the unofficial poet laureate of English Canada. Purdy published more than 30 collections of poetry, a memoir, a book of essays, a novel, and various correspondence collections and anthologies. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award twice, was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was recognized for his contributions to Canadian poetry by the League of Canadian Poets with the Voice of the Land Award.

Since 2014, the Al and Eurithe Purdy A-frame Association has offered a writers’ residency program at the house Purdy built in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. The program will restart in 2025 after repairs are completed to the house in 2024.