People / George Bowering

Writer, critic, educator. George Bowering was born in 1935. He received a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in English from the University of British Columbia. While a student, Bowering met Frank Davey, David Dawson, Jamie Reid, and Fred Wah, with whom he started TISH, an experimental poetry and poetics journal, in 1961. Bowering founded Imago (1964-1974), a magazine dedicated to the long-poem format, and was a contributing editor of Open Letter, a Canadian journal of writing and theory. Bowering’s work is marked by the desire to subvert the realist conventions of non-fiction through a metahistorical approach and an interest in experimentation with the rhythm of open structures. His work also displays a strong connection to the province of British Columbia, whether in recounting his childhood in the Okanagan or in referencing the social problems of urban Vancouver.

Bowering started his Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario, but stopped it to take the position of Writer-in-Residence at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) (1967-1968). Bowering has occupied teaching positions at the University of Calgary (1963-66), Sir George Williams University (1968-1971), Simon Fraser University (1972-2001), along with short-term teaching stints at various universities and colleges in Canada and in the United States, as well as Rome, Berlin, and Aarhus (Demark). A prolific writer with more than eighty published works to his credit, Bowering has won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for The Gang of Kosmos (1969), Governor General’s Award for Fiction for Burning Water (1980), bpNichol Chapbook Award for Poetry for Quarters (1991) and Do Sink (1992), and Canadian Authors’ Association Award for Poetry for George Bowering: Selected Poems (1994). Bowering has Honorary Degrees from the University of British Columbia (1994) and the University of Western Ontario (2003). He became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002, the same year he was selected by the Vancouver Sun as one of the most influential people in British Columbia and as Canada’s first Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2002-04). He was also awarded the Order of British Columbia (2004).