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PatrickMcEvoy-Halston English452lQ0l DougBeardsleY 19August2003 6 o. {h*O .

Haven Cell to Postmodern Freeing Purdy: FromNationalist Al by that of in Silverberg, '"TheCan(adi)onization Al Purdy,"argues Purdywasused a canonanda quintessential both a Canadian industry"(227)to helpestablish dfff"rary-cultural Y Purdy a in to identity. According Silverberg, theirquestto create particular Canadian man-critics working-class "native"(228),, un-American, being,a backwoods, personae-that in andanthologists the SeSa"d of a provided very limited sense the manto ,d'(and beyond)



and problematical, far public. He thinksPurdyis actually more"paradoxical," thereading was (231)thanwe havebeenleadto expect.Purdy,apparently, not only more



us interestingbut more postmodernthan we have been lead to expect,too, and Silverberg off-ers just how awarePurdy was of the socially of textualanalyses selectpoemsin part to suggest

y' constructed natureof genderandof the instability of language.He thereforeattemptsnot only to worthyof Purdyassomeone qualities theheartof Purdy'swork" (245)but to establish "at recover postmodern attentions. sophisticated from 1965to with RobertIrcker in thinking that during "the decade Silverbergagrees into identitytranslated a [. . .] with preoccupation defininga Canadian lg75- (226),"thenational of images thatidentitf' (227)' Pvdy' was purpose to find or create whose industry literary-critical the verse[. . .] [,] wasdeemed perfect minded, documentaryJike of because his "rural,historically but for candidate canonicity" (232). llts work wasthereforewidely critiqued and anthologized, in as him to be understood primarilyinterested wanted so: selectively sinceanthologists/critics and narratives, in in of crafting"sketches" "suitablynativelandscape[s], "garrison/survival" whichbestdeveloped (230),only poems and the /. maintaining "continuityof thepresent thepast"




upon. and werewidely circulated commented and subjects themes
Silverberg believes that the anthologists/critics desire to "pigeon-hole" Purdy as an

"authentic[. . .] Canadian"(230) hasmeantthat we havebeenoffered a very skewedandJi{aitetL and poems invariablydocumentary mimetic," are the of sense thepoet. Because "anthologized and Purdy's"fine experimental moretechnically that argues we rarelyencounter Silverberg

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as his did anthologists/critics not wantto complicate status poems"(230). Because self-conscious

we in, primarilyinvolvedwith, andinterested his nativehabitat, rarelyencounter a rural Canadian (241),or her about travelsabroad.Because his about"CubaandGreece" his poems dedicated his poeticpredecessors, poems wanted link him to his Canadian to anthologists/critics


overin beenpassed EzraPound, . .] [etc.,]haveconsistently DylanThomas, D.H. Lawrence, [.

have left been that (23r).rnshort, parochial subjects" of more perbere believes readers
and largelyunaware thefull extentof Purdy'ssophistication cosmopolitanism. of of ideologyon the circulation Purdy's of interest theeffects nationalist in Silverberg's
poetry suggests influenceof New Historicist analysison his thought. The influenceof other the in upon his criticism is apparent his "recovery" of the complex natureof a critical approaches poem, "Song of the Impermanent,"and in his analysisof a largely commonly anthologrzed poem, "On RealizingHe Has Written SomeBad Poems." The "Song of the unanthologized Purdy into is accordingto Silverberg, often badly misreadby critics eagerto shape Impermanent," Canadian"(233). Silverbergdoesa feminist analysisof the working-class a "rugged,masculine, poem;exploresthe "speaker'sblatantmisogyny" (236); and decidesthat the poem is best of "satire" which "enactscertainsocialconstructions masculinity" as understood a sophisticated (237). He alsodoesan analysisof "On Realizing" in which he likens Purdy to the still fashionable that Purdy, his critic, Fredric Jameson.Silverbergconcludes analysisof this poem by asserting was like an alert studentof deconstruction, well awareof how "languagewill alwayshaveits way over us" (246). would likely amongstacademics Anyone hoping that Purdy's poetry will find an audience


poet' (233)-an backwoods efforts. Purdy,formerlythe "self-made, with Silverberg's bepleased literary not supremacy, of nationalist daysof thehegemonic sort entirelydisrespectable in these the as literaryschools-is madeto seem if he shares concems specialized critics,but of scientific, a he believes realizes more"accurate" acadernia.Silverberg of andperspectives contemporary establishes (239)portrayal Purdyin his essay, since but this effort so cleanly,so suspiciously, of of reminded our own reading Purdy'spoetryshould that we Purdy'smodishness, leavehis essay of inform our criticalassessment the manandhis work. predominately for Silverbergalsoleavesus uncertainasto how well he helpsus movebeyond"the search to of his identity" (247),asto someextent analysis Purdy'spoetryserves Canadian a singular poet[ry]" Canadian of ratherthanloosenthe conception Purdyasa writer of "quintessential update critics(suchasDennisIre) who insiston characterizing (243). Silverberg castigates repeatedly of yet Purdyasa writer of "survival"(241)poetry, his own characterization Purdy'sencounter {a",f*lrh in and to language amounts a storyof Purdy'spersistence hardiness the faceof obstacles. in will of Silverberg tellsus thatPurdywasaware how "our smallintentions be subsumed of outlines"(246),but insiststhatinstead beingbrokenby the [. flanguage's] . .] broader triumph[was] [. . '] "'prison-house language' . .l t,l tPurdylrealize[d][. . .] thatlanguage's of t. the believes we should"recognize that while Silverberg alsohis own" (246). Furthermore, extrememutability andflexibility of identity" (246),and while he doesdraw attentionto Denis (and characterizing seemingly Ire's studyof Purdy's"pollphony" (U7), he still endshis essay (247). of Purdyasa manaware his own "bumbling[. . .] failuresandtreacheries" sumrnarizing) Sullivan(who that of This assessment Purdycloselyechoes of othercriticssuchasRosemary such gaze"wasof "ironic-deflation" that believes Purdy's"quintessential [143]) andanthologists his (whobelieves Purdy's"self-mockery" that asGaryGeddes [66] elevates bestwork).
then,might make Purdy seemmore modishthan modern,but he maintainsPurdy's Silverberg,

Canadian. is, survivor--that asthe quintessential persona the self-effacing as (750 words) Works Cited Poetsx 3. Toronto: OxfordUP, 2001. Garyed. 15 Canadian Geddes, on ." of Mark. "The Can(adi)onization Al Purdy Essays CanadianWriting 70 (2000) Silverberg, : 226-51. Writing49 (1993): 142-46. on "Purdy'sDark Cowboy Essays Canadian ." Rosemary. Sullivan,


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