Al Purdy was a late starter at poetry, and most of his early work is derivative and negligible; it was in Poems for All the Annettes (1962) that the mature poet's voice was first heard, ranging from the "Cambrian trilobite" to "Uncle Fred on Côte des Neiges" in those vast associate leaps of time which were to become his trademark.

In "Postscript," Purdy writes, "I say the stanza ends, but it never does" - and that open-ended sense of form has vitalized all his writing. A later edition of the book (1968) added some new poems (including "At the Quinte Hotel") and gave early evidence of Purdy's passion for revision (Uncle Fred reappeared as Uncle John). The sweep and exuberance of Purdy's work have informed Canadian poetry ever since.