The book that changed your life: George Bowering

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      The Word Vancouver festival is set for its 2015 edition with a huge, genre-spanning program of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 23 to 27.

      The Straight asked a group of these writers to tell us about their most meaningful reading experiences. Which books shaped their imaginations early on? Which ones expanded their ideas of what the written word can do?

      Here’s what Vancouver poet and author George Bowering told us. Bowering has more than 100 books and chapbooks to his name, including the GG–winning novel Burning Water. He’ll read from his short-story collection 10 Women at 4:10 p.m. on September 27, on the Canada Writes stage outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      When I was in high school I read an anthology of poetry in English, and was in a small way interested in two poets who went by their initials. One was AE, and at first I confused him with A.E. Coppard. They both used to hang around with William Butler Yeats, but Coppard was better known for his stories than for his poems. AE was actually the pen name of George William Russell, whose poems, I found, were just too dreamy.

      The other initials were H.D., and for a while I just thought they represented another guy. This person’s poems impressed me greatly before and after I knew that they belonged to Hilda Doolittle. I read that the poems were called “imagist”, and I really liked their musical exactitude:

                              shadow seeks shadow,

                              then both leaf

                              and leaf-shadow are lost.

      I decided to be an imagist, then not to be an imagist. Now I am older than H.D. ever got to be, and I keep her poems beside my bed.