George Bowering is gonna have to move to a place with an even bigger mantlepiece. One of the biggest stories of March — how could anyone have missed this — was Bowering’s selection as this year’s recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia.
Imagine, if you will, a dinner and awards ceremony, where George receives the impressive-looking trophy. Imagine him making a gag of how heavy this trophy is. Imagine this all taking place at the Vancouver Public Library one early summer evening in 2020, say June 25.
Previous winners of the award, named after George Woodcock, one of the few writers in this province whose list of publications rivals George’s 100+ books, include Alice Munro, Phyllis Webb, Daphne Marlatt, bill bissett, Rolf Knight, and Jeannette Armstrong. The Woodock Award is sponsored by Yosef Wosk, The Writers Trust of Canada, Vancouver Public Library, and Pacific BookWorld News Society.
In 2002, Bowering was appointed the first ever Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. That same year, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2004. His novel Burning Water won the 1980 Governor-General’s Award for Fiction.
New Star Books is the publisher of approximately 8.2 percent of Bowering’s books, including re-issues of his trilogy of BC historical novels, and more recently, Writing and Reading, and half of the poetry collection Some End / West Broadway.
Heidi Greco’s review of Writing and Reading appears at the end of this story on BC Booklook’s site announcing the award. “.. . it’s not simply a book about writing. He offers what could be called instruction on what reading means — reminding us that it’s more than deciphering letters on a page, that it requires a certain involvement from us as participants in the thought processes therein contained. .. . He rambles now and then (but then, who of us doesn’t), yet overall grants us some remarkable insights into what poetry is (and isn’t). In an essay about one of his own poems, he manages to come up surprised over making a new discovery in it. And it’s exactly this sort of wide-eyed freshness that makes it easy to keep coming back to this book,” Greco writes.
We’ve previously told you about Nicholas Bradley’s review-essay about Writing and Reading and Taking Measures, alongside Bowering’s 2015 short story collection 10 Women, in a recent issue of the Ormsby Review.
You can catch up with Tom Sandborn’s review of Writing and Reading in the Vancouver Sun, reprinted in numerous sister newspapers in the venerable Southam newspaper chain, right about here. “These essays deserve attention from anyone who cares about how literature is made and works,” quoth the maven.