Celebrating the beautiful book object – At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy

Yes, I have another lovely book object about which I’d like to rhapsodize … as I’ve done recently here, here and here. As I mentioned, I’m going to try from time to time to showcase and celebrate the physical books I’ve read, reviewed, and/or from which I’ve gathered #todayspoem snippets of inspiration. Today’s treasure is At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published in 1977 by the storied Paget Press.

While it’s a zesty good read, Al Purdy’s At Marsport Drugstore is also emblematic of two great literary collaborations. This collection of largely love poems was the first publishing venture of Paget Press(1) of Sutton West, Ontario, lovingly operated by Peter Sibbald Brown as a distributor for California’s iconic Black Sparrow Press(2). Brown’s literary tastes and sense of book aesthetics and production values were very simpatico with those of Black Sparrow founder John Martin. As well, the collection boasts an appreciation by legendary US poet Charles Bukowski, with whom Purdy conducted a lively correspondence in the 1960s and 70s.(3) (The two never met, but their warmth and respect for each other is palpable, not only in Bukowski’s tribute here, but in a subsequent collection of their letters, also published by Paget Press.)

At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published by Paget Press

At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published by Paget Press

At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published by Paget Press

At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published by Paget Press

At Marsport Drugstore, by Al Purdy, published by Paget Press

Each poem is preceded by a woodcut-style illustration by artist Hugh Leroy. The edition shown here is part of a limited run of 75 that includes a tipped-in print by Leroy, and is autographed by both Purdy and Leroy.

Notes:

1. Paget: a country creation with continental ties (PDF, ~87K)
from Quill & Quire, February 1984

2. About Black Sparrow Books
from Black Sparrow Books web site

3. Charles Bukowski, Al Purdy, Writers’ Friendship
by Robert Sward

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