Text Box: Big Pond Rumours Press

Black Ink: Portraits

Poetic Depictions of Poets and their Psyche



September 2016

Patrick Connors 


Brian Purdy is the often forgotten son of iconic Canadian poet Al Purdy. Obituaries written about Al when he passed away in 2000 neglect to reference Brian, whom Al fathered with his final legal wife, Ila Elizabeth Batchelor.


Brian is an intriguing poet in his own right. He has been writing and publishing for over 40 years. His style is very clear and accessible and honest.


“Brian is nothing like his father as a poet,” Robert Priest said. ”If his father is of the earth, Brian is more of the underearth - darker, more compressed but also more lyric, much more lyric in fact.”


His new chapbook, Black Ink: Portraits, recently released by Big Pond Rumours Press, is enough to whet the reader’s appetite and make she or he want more.


In the first poem, “The Great Are No Less”, Brian writes of the struggles of, among others, William Blake, John Berryman, and Ernest Hemingway, as they battled inner demons and health problems.


The first two stanzas end with the line: “The great are no less haunted than the rest.”

The third and final stanza ends with: “The great are no less haunted – no more blessed.”


I can’t help but wonder if there could be a line for Al Purdy in this poem. Also, it speaks to the suffering every poet, known or unknown, experiences on their own.


Brian celebrates the lesser-known Eric Layman in the poem, “For Layman”.


“Eric was a fixture of the Toronto poetry community for decades,” James Deahl said. “And he was a U of T Ph.D. candidate, also for decades. He wrote formal verse of a philosophical nature. Everyone liked and respected him even if they did not appreciate his poetry. He was a true friend and supporter of literature.”


By the end of the first stanza of Brian’s poem, the reader not only can visualize Layman, but also feel like they know him. The second stanza builds up empathy for Layman, with lines such as: “few would listen to your poems,”, and “Still you wrote and read with zeal/In a climate of unbelievers…”


The final stanza ends with a sentiment by which we would all like to be remembered: “Layman, you lived your owned ‘damned way.”


Sharon Berg, the force behind Big Pond Rumours and editor of Brian’s chapbook, is also his half-sister. She will have a booth in the Fringe Beat section at Word On The Street, which takes place this Sunday, September 25th, at Harbourfront Centre, from 11 AM-6 PM.


Berg will be there with copies of Brian’s chapbook, as well as A Poet’s Garden of Pointers, his very interesting book of poetics.


She will also be releasing a new book at Word On The Street by Toronto poet John Oughton, recent winner of a contest sponsored by the Big Pond Rumours website, judged by Priest. Furthermore, Paper Reunion: An Anthology of Phoenix: A Poet's Workshop (1976-1986) will be available.


For more information on everything Big Pond Rumours, please go to: http://www.big-pond-rumours.com/index.htm