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George Bowering, "Bullshit Artist": A poetics of attention Add to ...

How much time do you spend surfing the 'Net? Is it blessing, curse or admixture?

I look at my email every day. I check the baseball scores every night. I occasionally look at some places I have bookmarked (such as Dooney's Cafe). I think that it is terrific that I can look and see how many home runs Andy Pafko hit in 1951 or the number of pages in a book by Georges Perec; but, I always recoil in anguish when my son-in-law refers to his web-surfing as "research."

When you visit a bookstore, whose books are beside yours and how do you feel being among such company?

Hey, I come after Robin Blaser. You can't get much luckier than that.

Do you enjoy collaborating with others; or, do you find it essential at an atomic level to spread your writerly wings and expand your horizons?

For my views on collaborating (as editor, writer or publisher), you will have to wait and see my chapter on the subject in my forthcoming book, How I Wrote Certain of My Books, to be published by Mansfield Press in 2011.

In September, you and Jean travel to Rossland where you, designated Parade Marshall, will oversee events; then, as you say, you plan to drive "way to hell up to Haida Gwai to do some readings." How do you do it, the constant travel? You seem to possess boundless energy . . .

. . . I always eat my vegetables and never smoke cigarettes.

Speaking of Jean, as near far as I can tell in conversation with either or both of you, your wife numbers among the most important human beings you have met. How did you meet?

Her young writers' magazine, In 2 Print, published a piece I wrote about scorekeeping and my dad; then, those foolish young people wanted me to come to Port Colborne for the big festival for the mag, so Jean hired a tiny airplane to bring [David W.]McFadden and me from Toronto's island airport to the little landing strip at Welland. When we got out of the plane, relieved that McFadden had not sabotaged us, there she was, sitting on a bench, looking damned nice. I out-raced McFadden to her side.

When did you know?

Aw, she chased my by phone, e-mail and Canada Post. I finally gave in.

Did you ever think a gift of such a goddess would appear in your world?

After my wife, Angela, died, I had resigned myself to a life of singular pleasures; now, I just smile and bask a bit as old friends ask me how the hell I managed to get so lucky.

How's it going?

I have never been so happy; and, she never hits me.

Who's the best liar in the country?

To tell the truth, I have to say it's Robert Kroetsch (in that he is the best writer and he makes outrageous things up). He prefers the term "Bullshit Artist." But, the biggest liar is Porky . . . No, wait, he's not in the country (though he did recently get out of a Florida jail too soon). What is his waistline, anyway?


George Bowering doesn't play fair. Baseball Love is so good there is no memoir in the league that can go up against it. Bowering has a sense of story and an eye for detail that eliminate the possibility that he was a lousy second baseman. Reading a home run is fun.

- Robert Kroetsch


Who's on what you term "the frontier" (and is that a good place to be)?

It's the best place to be. I don't know who's out there, though. I mean, I am in the centre of the empire, aren't I?


There is something I like about George. And, not just because he's a fellow Sagittarius like bill bissett. Even more than his respect for a thing well done, it is something Dante was always saying: discerno, which is to say, I discern. As if someone had to hack their way through all that wilderness of halibut wrap and build a poetry from sea to shining sea, you know what I'm saying? I never thought we would ever be able to go on tour and trash Novotels together, not ever. I mean, you gotta be able to spot a bad simile at ten paces and sublimate, you just gotta. In fact, he's more quick on the draw than I've ever read him. That's why we picked him for our team (and we're sure as hell keeping him).

- Garry Thomas Morse


("George Bowering with Daisy," artwork © 2010 Larry Raincock. Poetry exclusive to The Globe and Mail © 2010 George Bowering. All Rights Reserved.)

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