Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2016

Celebrating our literary history

In honour of our third annual Summer Reading Issue and our 50th Anniversary Year, we've dug into the archives to unearth some of our favourite fiction and poetry

This Magazine Staff

Our July/August Third Annual Summer Reading Issue is on newsstands now! To celebrate our literary history in our 50th anniversary year, this summer we’re also re-publishing a bunch of archived poetry and fiction. This week, for our last literary look back into the archives, we present “Seven Ways of Looking at Something Else,” a poem from the extraordinary Al Purdy, often dubbed Canada’s “unofficial poet laureate,” published in our Jan/Feb 1990 issue.

The Al Purdy memorial statue in Toronto // By Shaun Merritt [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Al Purdy memorial statue in Toronto // By Shaun Merritt [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Seven ways of looking at something else

The colour that glances off
from another colour
looks at something else
aslant and tangential
and may not be seen alone
only in symbiosis
–rings around necks of certain birds
to see that not-blue and not-green
requires growing an extra space
in your head to keep them safe in
—followed by this girl into a museum
standing by a mummy-case
waiting for the sun on painted queen
at that moment watching the girl
watching the queen watching the watcher
unable to break the circle
—in the Mediterranean off Famagusta
sunken bronze and filigree gold memories
have taken the sun to bed on the sea bottom
solar fires burn in mud
and the sea-moan crying in lava caves
Greek women not crying for their lovers
aching for their doodads
—take for instance
that the planet they figured out
had to be there on accounta how
the others acted because of it
like a dance with invisible partner

Give me that final mystery
the invisible woman so lovely
she is beyond my conception of her
yet only possible because of me
sweet shadow in the bedroom
my rebellious beloved satellite orbiting me
yearning to be free

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