Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Legacies

If you have a poetic bent and you are so inclined, I urge you to donate to two worthy fundraisers. I recently donated some money to the Al Purdy A-frame Trust which is attempting to preserve the house Canadian poet Al Purdy built near Ameliasburg, ON on the shores of Roblin Lake where he wrote most of his over thirty poetry collections. The building needs to be upgraded to current building codes but the long-term hope is that the property will be given an Ontario Heritage designation and an endowment will preserve the property as a poet-in-residence retreat. I am, quite frankly, a poet because I discovered Al Purdy's poems when I was sixteen so making a donation was an easy decision for me.

Another worthy fundraiser The Merwin Conservancy is strikingly similar to the A-Frame Trust in that it, too, is attempting to preserve the house and property of another poet W.S. Merwin. The Merwin Conservancy mission statement reads as follows: “Preserving the living legacy of W.S. Merwin, his home and palm forest, for future study and retreat for botanists and writers. Nineteen acres of over 800 species of palm lovingly planted by Merwin over 30 years; and a home that reflects the cultural richness and sustainability practices of one of America’s most honored poets.”

Like Al Purdy, W.S. Merwin helped to design and build the house that sits on his property where he has chosen to write poetry for over thirty years. Both men also decided early on to be poets first and foremost without compromise.

I have donated money to both causes because the words of both of these poets have made me think about the world differently. A simple reason perhaps but one that suits me fine. If you are sitting on the fence about donating funds, please consider this passage about philanthropy from Lynne Twist found on The Merwin Conservancy’s online donation page:

“Everyone wants to contribute their money to make a difference in the world-whether they have only a few Indian rupees or Zambian kwacha or they have millions of yen or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Philanthropy at any level enables people to get back in touch with that relationship with money. In philanthropic interactions, we can return to the soul of money: money as carrier of our intentions, money as energy, and money as currency for love, commitment and service; money as an opportunity to nourish those things we care most about.” – Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money