UBC Theses and Dissertations
Metaphor and memory : cognitive poetics and the legacy of Al Purdy French, Andrew William
The work of Canadian poet Al Purdy has often been dismissed because of its informal nature, while others see Purdy’s down-to-earth poetics as part of what draws readers to his writing. I use a cognitive poetic analysis of one of Purdy’s most anthologized poems, “Transient,” to contend that the late poet’s body of work merits and can withstand close investigation despite its colloquiality. I then extend cognitive poetic analysis of “Transient” onto poems and songs written in tribute to Purdy that adapt his original poem and conceptual metaphors in order to discuss his life in terms of a journey. In this section I look at works by Bruce Cockburn, Doug Paisley, Grace Vermeer, and Julie McNeill that portray Purdy as a positive influence on Canadian literature. I then examine criticism against Purdy written by River Halen Guri, Michael Lista, Shane Neilson, and Sadiqa de Meijer alongside a review of an anthology of Purdy tribute texts by Lori Fox. I argue in this section that texts written in tribute to Purdy ignore his negative influences on the Canadian literary community, such as the misogyny and racism that appears in much of his work. Finally, I discuss the ongoing work of the Al Purdy A-Frame Association, who have been connected in some way to the publication of all of the collections of Purdy tribute texts published in the past five years. I contend that while Purdy’s writing has been discounted far too often, accounts of his life and legacy that capture both his positive and negative effects on the Canadian literary community are lacking and necessary.
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