By the time Al Purdy succumbed to lung cancer at his waterfront home in Sidney BC on 21 April 2000, he was universally ackwledged to be one of the greatest writers Canada has produced. In five decades as a published author he had produced over forty books and received innumerable distinctions, including two Goverr General's Awards and the Order of Canada. A hands-on writer who delighted in co-producing speciality publications and small press titles in addition to his major collections with leading publishers, Purdy left a massive and diverse body of work, much of it long unavailable to the public. The Collected Poems, edited by Purdy critic Sam Solecki with the full participation of the author, for the first time brings all of Purdy's poetic writings together in one volume, including all his later books, work previously uncollected from earlier periods as well as several excellent new poems he completed in the months before his death. It is, as he said, everything he wished to be remembered for.
Al Purdy's down-to-earth voice populates thirty-three books, including The Cariboo Horses (1965), North of Summer (1967), Sex &Death (1973), and Piling Blood (1984). The two major collections of his work are The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (1986) and Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy (2000). Purdy died in Sidney, BC, on April 21, 2000.