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Monday March 29, 2010 in Books
George Bowering has always maintained many of his poems are germinated in secret ways—secrets he has, until now, assiduously kept to himself. In suddenly giving most of those secrets away, Vermeer’s Light, much of it written while Bowering was “in office” as Canada’s first Poet Laureate, constitutes an extraordinary gesture of generosity from a poet to his readership who has so honoured him. Its alphabet series A, You’re Adorable, by “Ellen Field,” a pseudonym Bowering often used in the nineties; Imaginary Poems for AMB, addressed to his late wife Angela; He Is Not, a micro-translation of Shelley’s Adonais; Q&A, which dares to take on the most fundamental questions of the human condition with levelheaded honesty and wit—the list of revelations and the pyrotechnics of Bowering’s craft presented here are spellbinding.
But the greatest astonishment about this celebratory collection from a poet at the height of his powers is that it contains all eight variations of “Grandfather,” Bowering’s most anthologized poem to date, set into an essay, Rewriting My Grandfather, like eight jewels in a crown at the end of the book. It is here that the poet presents his readers with a voyage of discovery; that the buried treasure of his invisible but adamantine craft is to be found; and the gift of entrance into how George Bowering creates his work is revealed.
ISBN 13: 9780889225657 | ISBN 10: 889225656
6 W x 9 H x 1 D inches | 224 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Bowering is the poet of delight in earthly matters, of bemusement at the self. His lyrics turn out the streetlights (who needs them!) and light up the stars.”
—2005 Griffin Poetry Prize Jury
“One of Canada’s most original writers.”
“One of Canadian literature’s chief mockers and iconoclasts.”
“At the core of the book is the raw, emotional force of ‘Imaginary Poems for AMB’ … Harrowing and heartbreaking, these pages walk the tightrope of sentiment without falling into sentimentality. Despite the far-ranging subject matter and approaches, the volume is characterized by the terse honesty, purity of voice, and wry humour that are Bowering’s trademark. Particularly outstanding, even in this impressive company, is the closing section of the book, a lengthy essay entitled ‘Rewriting My Grandfather’ … It’s a tour de force, and a window into the mind of one of Canada’s most significant poets.”
—Quill & Quire
“Bowering is both highly skilled in the formal aspects of poetry and perfectly accessible to the average reader … A delightful collection that may inspire readers to seek out Bowering’s earlier work.”
“Whatever the subject—heartfelt elegies to his late wife, lively commentary on baseball, wry social observations in Vancouver cafeterias—Bowering’s work is about creating effects in language. His essay ‘Rewriting My Grandfather,’ which concludes the book, offers wonderful insight into this process … Bowering scores lots of hits himself in Vermeer’s Light. He’s got an Old Master’s touch, indeed.”
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.