The Last Word with George Bowering

Dr. George Bowering is one of Canada’s most influential and beloved writers, whose works range from poetry and novels to biographies and youth fiction.

Dr. George Bowering is one of Canada’s most influential and beloved writers, whose works range from poetry and novels to biographies and youth fiction. George’s career started early. By the time he obtained his MA in English from UBC, he had already published his play, The Home for Heroes. Upon graduating in 1963 he published Sticks & Stones, his first collection of poems, and published three more by 1967.

His life’s work has been recognized by both UBC and the University of Western Ontario with honorary doctorates. He also received the 2011 Alumni Award of Distinction from the UBC Alumni Association. Topping off a lengthy list of accolades, including being a two-time Governor-General Award recipient, and the first poet laureate of Canada, are his standing as a member of the Order of British Columbia and officer of the Order of Canada.

During his impressive career, the Penticton-born author has published more than 90 books and edited more than 20 others, revolutionizing the art of contemporary Canadian poetry along the way.


What is your most prized possession?
A painting by Greg Curnoe, the great Canadian painter. It’s titled “The Woolworth’s Rattle” and is one of the four in the “family” series.

Who was your childhood hero?

Describe the place you most like to spend time.
Nat Bailey Stadium with my dear wife, Jean Baird

What was the last thing you read?
Frank Davey’s strange book Canonical Canadian Literature

 What or who makes you laugh out loud?
A page of Rohintin Mistry

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
My father told me: after the age of 60, never pass up a chance to have a pee.

What’s your idea of the perfect day?
I do not think that perfection actually exists, but I would put in a vote for having a hotdog during a day game in Fenway Park beside my sweetie, Jean Baird.

What would be the title of your biography?
That Didn’t Take Long.

If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
I guess that would be up to him. But I would hope that it would be the means to ending armed aggression.

What item have you owned for the longest time?
The December 1948 issue of Sport magazine. I was 12 years old, and wanted to be a sports writer, and wanted to subscribe to a magazine. I toss out magazines now. But how can I toss out a magazine from the greatest year in human history.

What is your latest purchase?
Gilbert Sorrentino’s Gold Fools

Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
Tommy Douglas, because he was greatly responsible for our progressive social institutions, making Canada a more compassionate and just country than its neighbour, for example

What would you like your epitaph to say?
What? Already?

If you could invent something, what would it be?
A device you could point at cell phones and iPods to turn them off

In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
The one that occurs after political and religious oppression ceases

What are you afraid of?

Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
To play saxophone as well as, say, Ornette Coleman

Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Anita O’Day’s Complete Verve/Clef sessions

Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble?
André the Giant

What is your pet peeve?
People saying “That begs the question,” when they should say “That raises the question”