Personal, confidential, compelling … Powerful, exquisite, and intricately crafted, His Life: A Poem, George Bowering’s stunning new poetic memoir spans and reconfigures thirty years of this award-winning writer’s life. A thoroughly unique project, vintage Bowering, His Life began to take shape in the early eighties. Bowering explains that at that time a young Sicilian in Toronto presented him with a fine Italian writing book with lines and rounded quarters. He put the gift away, saving it until it was needed for a poem. The time came a few years later. In the late eighties Bowering began rifling his diaries for what he had recorded on the equinoxes and solstices between the years 1958 and 1988. Whatever he’d recorded on those days became the building blocks for the poems in this collection. Ultimately, His Life took shape organically, not chronologically. From the gathered raw material Bowering may have written, for example, Fall 1979 before Spring 1962. This means the project stands naked, honest, and unprotected; in his words, “the vapidity of a date’s entry,” as much as its fascinating detail, could alter a poem’s course.
Ten years after beginning the project, more than forty years after first recording information about the people, places, and events upon which the poems are based, His Life has taken on a “life” of its own, bent and reshaped by experience, time, and revision. Now, Bowering admits, there were times when he wondered whether there really was method to his madness, whether this was any way to write a poem. Imagine, he says, a page a month. Three years a year.
Would he do it again?Never.
Though he first showed up as a poet, and spent his middle years mainly as a novelist, George Bowering has lately worked on both pop history (Bowering’s BC and Egotists and Autocrats) and young adult fiction (Parents from Space and Diamondback Dog). His most recent poetic offering was a pseudonymous chapbook. Bowering lives in Vancouver and hangs out with poets young enough to be his kids — or worse.
Published: April 2000
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.