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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Man of Letters

I am still thinking about my March visit to the amazing Al Purdy Library at Trenton High School.
Teachers Eric Lorenzen and Brent Jewell, and Teacher-Librarian Mary Anne Ricard made me so welcome.

I am writing up the story of that visit and interviews with THS students, and a trip to the A-frame with students from Belleville's Centennial Secondary School, for the summer issue of County and Quinte Living magazine.

The lines painted on the library wall are from Purdy's poem 'What it Was," which describes his struggles and sense of alienation in a boarding school. No doubt they resonate with students every day.

student designed bookplate

The mobiles were designed by art teacher Anne McDonald, and created by students in 2011 as part of the preparation for the dedication of the library as The Al Purdy Library. They're meant to represent old Underwood typewriter keys. I especially love them as I recently read Al's correspondence with George Woodcock. The letters between the two writers are reproduced as written/typed. Al's letters reveal a particularly cantankerous key, which insists on typing above the line.

At the library opening,  Al's widow Eurithe unveiled a plaque, created by Campbell's Monuments (the significance of which will be appreciated by anyone who has read Al's childhood recollections in 'Morning and It's Summer'. The library contains a fine collection of signed Purdy works, all dignified by the lovely bookplate above, designed by one of Anne McDonald's gifted students, and inspired by 'The Last Picture in the World.'

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