I’ve mused in previous blog posts about the importance of literacy. From those musings, coupled with wise advice and support from book and publishing friends and acquaintances in real life and online, I’ve made a commitment to supporting literacy initiatives and programs … every time I hit a followership milestone on Twitter.
This time, I’ll confess I’ve strayed a bit from literacy causes to literary causes. Inspired by the recent Al Purdy Show, I’ve made my donation as follows:
In 1957, Al and Eurithe Purdy bought the property on “the south shore of Roblin Lake, a mile or so from the village of Ameliasburgh, in Prince Edward County… (the) lot bordered the lake shoreline, a teacup of water nearly two miles long. Dimensions of the lot were 100 feet wide by 265 long.” This became the home where Al Purdy wrote many of his most stirring and influential works. Even while the storied A-frame cottage was being built, it also became a meeting place — for poets, for poetry lovers, for those aspiring to be poets, and for those who wrote and supported Canadian literature in other forms. Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Tom Marshall, George Bowering, Earle Birney, Lynn Crosbie, Steven Heighton, Patrick Lane, Margaret Laurence, Jack McClelland … the CanLit who’s who is too immense to exhaustively list.
Now, in addition to upgrading and preserving this deservedly historical site, supporters envision a Writer-in-Residence Program:
“The residency program for the A-frame was designed by poets David Helwig, Steven Heighton, Karen Solie and Rob Budde. The poets were selected to include a broad poetic sensibility, geographical reach, breadth of experience with residency programs, knowledge of Purdy’s work and personal experience of the property. Both David and Steven were long time friends of the Purdys and spent many decades visiting Roblin Lake.
“To begin, the residency will operate for 8 months, from April 1 to November 30. Later the winter months may be added. The A-frame will provide time and a place to work that is attractive and of historic significance. Writers can apply for a term of one to three months. The residency will be open to all writers, but preference will be given to poetry and poetry projects. The jury will also consider proposals for a one month project in critical writing about Canadian poetry each year and will be open to unusual and creative ideas for residencies.”
Learn more at the Al Purdy A-Frame Association page.
As I’ve mentioned previously on this subject, much more important than numbers of followers or influence scores or whatever is that we are in this social milieu reading and writing and talking … about books and literature and print and digital formats and reading devices, and on to bookstores and libraries and the vital reading and writing experiences in all their forms. I value those who follow me and converse with me, those that I follow and learn from, and those that I come across even fleetingly in this vibrant tweeting, retweeting, chattering, enthusiastic and engaged environment. It’s not the numbers of them (although that there is endless potential for book friends out there continues to take my breath away), but the quality of the discourse and the spirit, dealing with fundamental issues, not to mention myriad delights.
Numbers are just numbers. But then again, we can use those numbers in creative ways to challenge ourselves to remember, to recognize, to give back. Through this exercise, I’ve learned about other organizations and institutions supporting literacy, literary causes and books that I’d like to recognize in future, so I’m going to set a goal to do just that whenever I hit one of those “number” milestones. I challenge other book tweeters and bloggers to do the same.