Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Evan Jones
Dear Editor,

Does not one of the Canadian readers of your magazine want to stand up for Al Purdy, so decisively dismissed by Jason Guriel in his review of Daryl Hine’s Recollected Poems in your January issue? He’s important enough to have earned a memorial statue at City Hall in his native Toronto, but not important enough to defend? Well, maybe so. A certain generation of Canadian poets read him endlessly, but his international reputation doesn’t exist (despite Margaret Atwood’s and Charles Bukowski’s admiration). I grew up in Toronto at a time when every young poet I met was reading Al Purdy, and all of them seemed to attend his funeral en masse in April 2000. But his most noteworthy poems are about being drunk in bars, and at best he’s part of a certain caliber of anti-intellectual, free verse poet whose fashion seemed perhaps relevant and necessary in the seventies, but whom few have time for any longer. I remember a friend of mine, an older poet whom I still see as a mentor, asking if I found something exotic in that voice of the drunk at the bar. “That bar is my family’s bar,” I told him, “and he’s been drinking all day and has twice called me a fag because I’m quiet and don’t know anything about hockey. He’s also been hitting on my mom.”

Manchester, United Kingdom

Originally Published: October 23, 2008

Poetry is looking for thought-provoking responses to work published in the magazine, as well as letters that raise new questions about the state of contemporary poetry. To send us your letter, please fill out all the fields below.

If we choose to use your letter, we will notify you by phone. If you have not heard from us within two weeks of sending your letter, you may assume we will not be using it. All letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may appear online, in print, or both.

Please do NOT send poetry submissions to this account. See Submission Guidelines for further information and policies regarding poetry submissions.

   Cancel

* All fields are required

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This prose originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2008

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.