Canada Reads·Canadian

Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets

This selection of poems from Al Purdy covers three decades of his work, from 1962 to 1992.

Al Purdy

This selected poems covering three decades of work (from 1962 to 1992) showcases Al Purdy at his best, whether he's musing on our national game (a "combination of ballet and murder," as he puts it), describing a bar-room brawl or gruffly expressing tenderness for his wife of many years. Purdy's conversational style, down-to-earth perspective and self-deprecating humour made him one of Canada's most beloved poets.

Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets was a contender for Canada Reads 2006, when it was defended by Susan Musgrave.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

At The Quinte Hotel


I am drinking

I am drinking yellow flowers

in underground sunlight

and you can see that I am a sensitive man

and I notice that the bartender is a sensitive man

so I tell him the beer he draws

is half fart and half horse piss

and all wonderful yellow flowers

But the bartender is not quite

so sensitive as I supposed he was

the way he looks at me now

and does not appreciate my exquisite analogy.


From "At the Quinte Hotel" by Al Purdy, Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets ©1996. Published by Harbour Publishing.

Author interviews

Al Purdy describes Ameliasburgh, his rocky start, riding the rails, failure. 15:31
Poetry pays a pittance but Al Purdy manages to get by. 4:08

More about this book

In an excerpt from the documentary Al Purdy Was Here (2015, dir. Brian D. Johnson), The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie recites the Canadian poet's 1968 poem "At The Quinte Hotel" live in Toronto in 2013. 3:27