Friday, May 16, 2008

History of Poetry; History of Bronze

Next Tuesday, May 20, at 4.30 pm, friends of poetry and sculpture will gather at Toronto's Queen's Park, north of the legislature, for the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of poet Al Purdy. The public is invited.

Late addition: That's his statue at top, now unveiled. Looks brilliant. The photo is courtesy of, who commented "Al Purdy would not even dress up for his own statue."

Plain-spoken down-to-earth Al Purdy probably doesn't seem like a cast-in-bronze kind of guy, and portrait statuary has been out of fashion for quite a while. These days we tend to create a memorial scholarship or prize, or rename some tatty park. If there's an artistic tribute, it's likely to be "non-representational."

But I like the idea of representational statues as, literally aide-memoires, and I like including Canadians who are neither statesmen nor monarchs. One of the best statues among the long sequence that adorns the central boulevard of Boston's Commonwealth Avenue is an impressively informal one of the American historian Samuel Eliot Morison, perched on a rock as if on the bow of his sailing ketch. (That's it in the second photo, at right, courtesy of Wikipedia, and making me wonder if Purdy's sculptors -- Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales -- knew of it.)

Who among Canadian historians would rate a statue? Pierre up in Kleinburg, or in Dawson City? Donald Creighton glowering over the University of Toronto?

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