For those who aren’t familiar, Al Purdy is a literary legend in Canadian poetry. Before it was even considered a category, Purdy was in the forefront of free-verse with an extensive collection of books, poems, novels and memoirs to influence generations to come. Fifteen years after his death, the unofficial poet laureate is fondly remembered in Al Purdy Was Here, a cinematic and musical production by Brian D. Johnson at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.

Like so many literary legends, Al Purdy’s legacy began with adversity. A high school drop out at the age of seventeen, the poet served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII, later travelling across the country to establish himself as a poet after years of bad verse. It was in Ontario’s beautiful Prince Edward County in 1957 when the “Poet of the Land” and his wife built an A-Frame; a refuge for Canadian literary types like Margaret Lawrence, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. It’s in this beloved cabin where like-minded creative, literary icons and aspiring writers started a movement unlike anything before it; a cultural community.

Celebrating Al Purdy’s life, his close literary circle and cultural influence, Al Purdy Was Here is a spectacular and thought-provoking film of archived footage, interviews with cherished Canadian writers and first-hand accounts. On December 4th, Al Purdy Was Here will premiere at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and will feature literary legends like Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, Eurithe Purdy and more. The night also includes musical performances by Leonard Cohen, Sarah Harmer, Bruce Cockburn and an eclectic mix of Canadian musical talent.

She Does The City is BEYOND excited to give away two FREE tickets to Al Purdy Was Here for a limited screening at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (December 4th & 5th as well as December 8th & 9th).

To enter, tweet: “Dear @Shedoesthecity, I LOVE Canadian poetry! Please send me to see @alpurdywashere at @TheBloorCinema!”


  1. La Osa Jewelry
    December 1, 2015

    This doc is amazing!

  2. JosephineRose__
    December 3, 2015

    shedoesthecity ja_urnalist AlPurdyWasHere Oh my goodness!! I AM SO SORRY! I am in NS! Unable to attend. Can you redraw?!

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