Al Purdy (1918 – 2000) was one of Canada’s most celebrated poets. As famous for his turbulent, working man’s way of life as for his poetry, he was the walking definition of a poet whose work encapsulated his life. His writing career spanded 50 plus years and his works included over 40 books of poetry and several novels and memoirs.
I had the good fortune of meeting Al in 1978 when he visited the University of Victoria Fine Art Department he was living in North Saanich at the time and came in as a guest lecturer. He was a very large, very loud man who made me, and everyone else, a little nervous but I liked him immediately. I wanted to ask him about his famous quote “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t drink beer’ but I couldn’t muster up the courage … for I was a sensitive man (read poem below) … .