George Bowering

In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, George Bowering was named Canada’s First Poet Laureate in 2000. The much lauded Officer of the Order of Canada has won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1969, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1980, the Nichol Chapbook Award for Poetry in both 1991 and 1992, the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry in 1993, and was awarded an Honourary Degree (D. Litt.) from the University of British Columbia in 1994.

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

Not that I remember. I grew up in a small town, and availed myself of whatever opportunities there were to do what I later learned were called “the arts.” I was in the school band and choir, had a darkroom in a friend’s basement, drew caricatures for the firemen’s ball, acted in plays, wrote for the local newspapers, etc.

So I wrote stories and poems. It was just that if you bought books of poems at Frank’s pool hall, as I did, the natural thing was to try writing poems yourself.

How/where do you find inspiration today?

The main muse, I guess, is the language and its hoard of words. The most important source, as I see it, is other poetry. I read a lot of other poetry.

I just read another book by Tom Raworth. I couldn’t understand it much, but I could follow it, especially when I read it out loud.

What is your writing process?

Very rarely I will jot down a single lyric poem that arrives. More commonly I am in the process of writing a longer piece, usually something with a plan or a dare.

2006 was an extreme year. On January 1st I wrote the first page of a 31 page poem, and on December 31, I wrote the last page of another 31 page poem. Over that year I wrote 12 such poems, each one with a different form or challenge. So far 6 of these have been published as chapbooks. Never before had I written 365 pages of poetry in a year.

What is your revision/editing process?

There are several. Sometimes the editing consists of an oath, followed by a crumpling sound and the expenditure of breath, as in an athletic event. Sometimes I cross off “I” and replace it with “he.” When I started my best-known poem, “Kerrisdale Elegies”, in Dallas, I decided that next day on the plane I would cross out anything that didn’t seem good enough. By the time we reached Albuquerque, I had crossed out the whole page.

Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?

Didn’t everybody write poetry in high school? Well, I read Hart Crane and Damon Runyan and tried to write like Hart Crane and Damon Runyan.

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?

All the poems, for example, of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Torquato Tasso, and Louis Zukofsky.

When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?

Read everything—poetry, physics, history, fiction, mythology, religion, philosophy and music.


Works by George Bowering

PoetryArticlesBook ReviewsOpinionsBook Reviews of Author

Poetry by George Bowering

Articles by George Bowering

Book Reviews by George Bowering

Narrative Valley
By George Bowering
Published in Nature, Politics, Poetics. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 136 (Spring 1993): 132-134.
  • Deep Hollow Creek by Claude Boisvert and Sheila Watson
Suitcase Poets
By George Bowering
Published in Fifteenth Anniversary Issue. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 61 (Summer 1974): 95-100.
  • Sex and Death by Al (Alfred W) Purdy
  • What's so Big About Green? by Earle Birney
Acorn Blood
By George Bowering
Published in The Living Mosaic. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 42 (Autumn 1969): 84-86.
  • I've Tasted My Blood by Milton Acorn
Eli and Irving
By George Bowering
Published in The Relevance of Humour. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 39 (Winter 1969): 74-76.
  • An Idiot Joy by Eli Mandel
  • The Shattered Plinths by Irving Layton (Author)
Promises, Promises
By George Bowering
Published in The Writer’s World. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 18 (Autumn 1963): 56-58.
  • Blind Man’s Holiday by R. G. Everson
  • Flaming City by Michael Malus
  • Burgular Tools by Harry Howith
Hero Without Motive
By George Bowering
Published in Writers on the Prairies. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 17 (Summer 1963): 72-73.
  • The Legend of John Hornby by George Whalley
The Canadian Poetry Underground
By George Bowering
Published in The Year in French Canada. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 13 (Summer 1962): 65-67.
  • The Drunken Clock by Gwendolyn MacEwen
  • Poems by David A. Donnell and Patrick Lane (Author)
  • D-Day And After by Frank Davey
  • Than Any Star by Pádraig O Broin

Opinions by George Bowering

bpNichol
By George Bowering
Poets in Their Twenties
By George Bowering
Poets in their Twenties
By George Bowering

Book Reviews of George Bowering's Works

Writing the Okanagan
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Writing Regions by Joel Martineau
Piccolo Mondo
By George Bowering, Michael Matthews, Angela Bowering and David Bromige
Reviewed in Faux Fifties by John Orange
And Other Stories
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Other Stories by Claire Wilkshire
His Life
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Exercising Maleness by Brent MacLaine
Urban Snow
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Bowering by Brian Edwards
Selected Poems
By Margaret Avison and George Bowering
Reviewed in Curious Encounter by George Bowering
Imaginary Hand
By George Bowering and Smaro Kamboureli
Reviewed in Language Women by Jeanette Lynes
Caprice
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Wily Western by Douglas Barbour
Fiction of Contemporary Canada
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Particulars by David Jackel
George, Vancouver
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Perhaps Profound by Mike Doyle
Touch
By George Bowering
Reviewed in The Woman of Barrie by Al (Alfred W) Purdy
Al Purdy
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Poet and Person by W. H. New
The Silver Wire
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Trouncing the Younger Poets by Louis Dudek
Mirror on the Floor
By George Bowering
Reviewed in Mod Murders by George Woodcock