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Wednesday March 31, 2010 in Books
In December 2005, stalled on a novel he was writing, George Bowering thought he needed a challenge. By the end of the year he had made a New Year’s resolution: write a poem a day for the 365 days of 2006. While working on Crows in the Wind, in January, he decided each monthly sequence should have a rule: something for the writing to attend to. So for February, each day’s piece had to have one sentence and two stanzas, then off he went; inventing ten further formal monthly compositional frames. As it happened, 2006 became fraught with personal challenges for Bowering—including a second marriage and a death in his new family—but he kept going, never cheating. The result of this uncompromising personal and formal discipline is one of the most fascinating books of poetry ever written.
Initially lacking a “subject,” the book’s metanarrative almost inevitably took the shape of an exquisite poetic autobiography that is at once both intensely personal and profoundly public. In it, among many other astonishments, we discover the deeply ambiguous roots of his father’s favourite folksong; we catch a ﬂeeting childhood glimpse of Bowering’s young mother, graceful as a gazelle, frozen in mid-stride like a Keatsian art-deco statue by the poet’s innocently Oedipal gaze; a complete history of Cuba in the context of US foreign policy in Latin America that gives an entirely new, but older, meaning to the date September 11; and the roots of tragedy that led to the “Balkanization” of Yugoslavia.
Throughout, the poet’s narrative personae assume the guises of a lifetime, reeling in and out of an ever-shifting “present”: a ﬂuid “here and now” that swirls over the gravel of a stream alive with recognitions, as all of the events of that imagined life become simultaneously present in their voices.
ISBN 13: 9780889226340 | ISBN 10: 889226342
6 W x 9 H inches | 416 pages
$39.95 CAN / $39.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000
QUOTES OF NOTE
"Ironically, Bowering’s acumen for reading underlies the wide spectrum of his writing. His acute sense of language style and possibility, his ear for words and rhythms, shows a process for literary imagination that is open and generative, and so frequently provocative. I’ve always trusted how he reads writing and counted on his skills in both as evidence of a real poetics of attention."
Shortlisted for the 2011 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
About the ContributorsGeorge Bowering
George Bowering, Canada’s first Poet Laureate, was born in the Okanagan Valley.
After serving as an aerial photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Bowering earned a BA in English and an MA in history at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders of the avant-garde poetry magazine TISH. He has taught literature at the University of Calgary, the University of Western Ontario, and Simon Fraser University, and he continues to act as a Canadian literary ambassador at international conferences and readings.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.