This biography of George Bowering, first Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, reveals the intimate, intellectual, and artistic life of one of Canada’s most prolific authors, offering an inside look at the people and events at the centre of the country’s literary and artistic avant-garde from the 1960s to the present.
A distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian, and tireless supporter of fellow writers, two-time Governor General’s Award winner George Bowering was born in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. After serving as an aerial photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Bowering earned a BA in English and history and an MA in English at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders of the seminal avant-garde poetry magazine TISH. He has taught literature at the University of Calgary, Concordia University, and Simon Fraser University, and he continues to act as a Canadian literary ambassador. Bowering has authored more than one hundred books, including works of poetry, fiction, memoir, criticism, and youth fiction; his writing has also been translated into multiple languages. He has been shortlisted for the Griffin Prize for Poetry, the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, and the BC National Non-Fiction Award.
“Rebecca Wigod’s sharp new biography of George Bowering speaks volumes about a complex figure.”—Vancouver Sun
His friend Margaret Atwood has said, affectionately, that he hides his real self behind a goofy act, giving “a genial imitation of a man acting like a nincompoop”.
A risqué autobiographical novel that fictionalizes the sexual adventures of the author’s youth.
In 2012, acclaimed writer George Bowering published Pinboy, a fictional memoir of his teenage sexual awakening. With No One, Bowering returns to play with form and fact in this autobiographical novel that continues the narrator’s journey in a quest story full of further sexual awakenings as that Pinboy becomes a man.
A writer called “alert, playful, and questioning” by The Globe and Mail, Bowering infuses this work with sexual politics, romantic and social developments, and a backdrop of ancient themes of homesickness and captivity. Readers may delight in the details of the retelling or perhaps they will be browned off. There are no guarantees. The ending will be a pleasant surprise for readers, patient and otherwise.
“I highly recommend reading the latest of Mr. Bowering’s long list of publications. No One follows up on George’s Pinboy and continues his character’s saga into adulthood. Yes, there is sex and lots of it , and hilarity, but there is also pathos, and pain . And the ending is delicious! I believe this writing is George Bowering at the top of his game!”—Lee Trentadue, Shelf Talkers
Read George’s essay regarding No One, “The Objects of my Affection” HERE.
Some End, Vancouver, New Star, 2018
“In my later years, I am pretty damned happy to have a chance at these collaborations—With George Stanley and with Jack Shadbolt!
“Imagine! Two great artists who were born before I was!”
“He’s caustic and clever, as always.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“And Bowering’s short poems all resonate with his own distinctive thought and tone as he, too, moves from the observed details of the physical world and the body to more abstract reflections. His short comic turn on “The Future of Canadian Poetry” is worth the price of admission all by itself.”—Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun (See full review here.)
“I find this new double collection by Vancouver poets George Bowering and George Stanley fascinating, a dos-à -dos flip book made up of Bowering’s “Some End” and Stanley’s “West Broadway.” With each section running roughly forty pages in length, both Bowering and Stanley write in and around their Vancouver geographies and concerns, from aging—Stanley’s “Blood is toxic to the retina” from the poem “5,” or Bowering’s “Does it bring any solace or calm to you / to know the sun is mortal, too?” from “Bright”—to the ins and outs of reading, friends and their immediate locales. Around 2005 or so, I heard the two illustrious senior Canadian poets read together at a festival in Vancouver alongside George Elliott Clarke, and the three Georges were fascinating to watch in sequence, given their individual penchants for deep rhythms, and their reading habits of each conducting their readings with one hand.”—rob mclennan
Read Michael Turner’s launch comments here.
A Short Sad Book, Vancouver, New Star Books, 2017 (reprint)
With an Introduction by Erín Moure and an Afterword by George Bowering
These days, Canada is a heavyweight of world fiction, boasting some of the gaudiest names in the literary firmament, its schools graduating great writers by the frontlist. It’s easy to forget that it was not always so.
Forty years ago, George Bowering saw a country still struggling to find itself in its books, and decided to write A Short Sad Book about it. Did he know he was writing if not The Great Canadian Novel something like it?
Originally published in 1977, A Short Sad Book has plenty of what you’d expect any Great Canadian Novel to have plenty of: geography, love, loons crying in the wilderness, lots of beavers. There’s a romance between Sir John A. and Evangeline, a Purdy good detective named Al hot on the trail of whoever killed Tom Thompson (yes, that one), terror in the form of white rabbits from the Black Mountain, Riel, Dumont, postmodernism (there’s even a character named “George Bowering”!!), and cameos by Gertrude Stein as the muse, Frank Mahovlich as the travel agent, and Jack McClelland as himself.
Poet/translator Erín Moure provides an introduction for this new edition, peeling back just enough layers of Bowering’s short but incredibly rich novel to show even more layers underneath. Bowering’s own Afterword provides additional context. A teachable moment in Canadian literature if ever there was one.
See details about the 1977 Talonbooks edition on the Fiction page.