I’ve been reading Al Purdy’s rooms for rent in the outer planets which is one of the five books on the Canada Reads list this year. These are Purdy poems from 1962 to 1992 selected by the poet and Sam Solecki.
This is a library book and some inconsiderate soul has graced many pages with amazing insights like “this is a metaphor” or “simile” or “alliteration” or “death” and even “Canada” (as if the poet’s home country wouldn’t figure in his poetry).
And then again, many pages are filled with black eraser leavings which are even worse than the annoying insights. Especially so when they threaten to or actually do fall on my chest as I read in bed. Gak! Oh… yes I see the irony in showing this negative part of using the library after my glowing golb a while back but… but… but nothing.
There are a few poems that I particularly recommend from the collection:
Trees at the Arctic Circle
Necropsy of Love
The Country North of Belleville
and the hilarious
When I Sat Down to Play the Piano.
All contain imagery I find difficult to unhook from my brain. Purdy is witty, honest and pithy and has no problem showing his masculinity or his sensitivity through this 30 year swath of life. These are certainly worth the read but wait there’s more! The short afterword at the end from Al is a wonderful trip into his head re: influences and ideas about poetry.
BTW, the title, if it catches your attention, is a quote from a poem called Married Man’s Song which is also the home for this line “we live with death but it’s life we die with”. See if you can digest that in a hurry!
If wishes were horses
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