it goes round and round like an eddy, gathering up odds and ends

I just finished reading The Al Purdy A-Frame Anthology, and very much enjoyed it. It's an odd little collection of poetry, prose, and photos on all things Al and A-Frame, with the proceeds going to the Al Purdy A-Frame Trust. It features a dozen or so of Purdy's A-Frame-related poems, mostly lesser-known, including this excerpt from "The Woman on the Shore":

the lake is trying to decide about itself
whether it is better to be ice or water
and can't make up its mind
it yearns toward both of them
And little two-inch tubular crystals form
phantoms in the water
- when the merest hint of wind comes
they sing
they sing like nothing here on earth
nothing here on earth resembles this
this inhuman yearning for something other
sighing between the planets

Alongside his poems are pieces of Purdy's prose, such as this description of stepping out naked into the snow:

It was like being caressed by little white sparks, the touch no more than a ghostly awareness of touching. The feeling of having once had wings, or an additional sense beyond the ordinary five which enabled the possessor to be part of things instead of separate from them... Retreating into the house, I felt as if I had glimpsed a human faculty we had lost when life was "nasty, brutish and short," but you could speak to snowflakes in their own language...

While Purdy's contributions are, not surprisingly (his being dead and all), excerpts from previously collected works, the other two-thirds of the book are devoted to mostly new writing: anecdotes and reminiscences (and a good deal of myth-making) on Al and the A-Frame from friends and fellow writers. Some great notes on Purdy's writing (and writing style) slip in from time to time as well, most notably this observation by D.G. Jones:

Generally, a Purdy poem focuses on a particular moment, a particular set of relationships, and then it goes round and round like an eddy, gathering up odds and ends, whatever can be caught up and borne along in the current of feeling. It imitates the action of daily life in which one spontaneously digest all kinds of unrelated matters as one moves from situation to situation, moment to moment. It is an action which integrates, not always logically, but sensibly and psychologically, inner and outer space, the local and the cosmic, past and present.

It's a wonderful read, and if you are a Purdy fan I hope you'll check it out.

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