"Letter to George Stanley" by George Bowering
Was I the girl running across Broadway, or the boy she kissed? And what am I doing in one of your poems, anyway? All these question marks, you’d think I’m writing a Phyllis Webb poem, you’d think I am sexually wiser than I am, than I ever was. I’m stuck in a short novel about sexual ownership and a small mountain with nobody jumping from it. I don’t feel like a Greek hero, I look through the windows on 11th Avenue and no one is there, no dogs on this street, no pizza for breakfast, the book is hard to live through, the small mountain blocks no view, the Okanagan people have been there all this aeon, the planet will be devoid of readers in short order, I’m too old to run across Broadway, I’ve just learned how to use a treadmill, the latest mouse in the lab. I’ll be in your poem if you’ll be in mine. Every time I put pen to paper my spring-loaded Jesus wobbles on my desk, from which I see nothing but disdainful trees, younger than the Okanagan people, even older than you, old friend, old connection to the real. If I were going to start an ism, it wouldn’t be that one. I’m just standing here on a sidewalk in Kitsilano, waiting for a kiss, ex- pecting a muse in a tiny skirt dodging traffic. I wonder whether she too has an adverb for a last name. “Gross Fatigue,” it says on that marquee.
"Letter to George Bowering" by George Stanley
I am the boy no one thinks is cute standing in the shade of Granville Clock Tower when this big girl comes running, legs pounding, across Broadway and — what? — she’s coming straight at me, throws her arms around me & plops a big kiss on me. What was I to do but change the subject. I saw a white butterfly fluttter by my porch door, I think it was the first one this century. We got married of course. Like so many others, I became president of UBC. ‘The imagination of man (writes Hume) is naturally sublime, delighted with whatever is remote and extraordinary, and running, without control, into the most distant parts of space and time in order to avoid the objects which custom has rendered too familiar to it.’ Let’s run across streets in Shanghai and Dubai. We go way back. You’re a better poet than Seamus Heaney. I’m in the middle of an Akhmatova translation (imitation) that I can’t get to stay put in 1944. My Paterson pastiche (the second one) piles up its own delta as it trickles haphazardly toward the precipice. These objects are not too familiar, trees I always call lindens, from the porch a glimpse of Grouse. Yet out my window the building across Balaclava Kidsbooks used to occupy will come down soon. The city changes faster than the heart. We’re reading our next books.
George Bowering taught English at Simon Fraser University from 1972 until his retirement in 2001. Canada's first Poet Laureate, he is an Officer of both the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia. He was one of the founders of the poetry publication Tish, served as and has received two Governor General's awards: the first, for poetry, in 1969 for The Gangs of Kosmos and Rocky Mountain Foot and the second, in 1980, for Burning Water, reissued by New Star in 2007. Bowering is well–known for his love of baseball, about which he has also written. He is the author of nine novels, five books of short stories, and numerous volumes of poetry, including Autobiology (New Star, 1972).
Born in San Francisco, poet George Stanley has been living in BC since the early 1970s, first in Vancouver, then in Terrace and back in Vancouver. A former instructor in the English department at Capilano College, he has published six books, including Gentle Northern Summer, Opening Day, The Stick, and You. He is the recipient of the 2006 Shelley Memorial Award for Poetry.
A masterpiece of late style and friendship, Some End / West Broadway combines back to back two powerful new works by old masters, George Bowering and George Stanley.
Stanley's West Broadway is a long poem, composed over the past decade, following on Stanley's other long city poems, "San Francisco's Gone", "Terrace Landscapes", and Vancouver: A Poem. Like those poems, West Broadway has embedded in it shorter verse poems that stand on their own.
Bowering's Some End is a suite of thirty–two poems tracking his recovery from a near fatal cardiac arrest in 2015. Throughout, Bowering's wit, his command of the idiom, and his ironic self–awareness shine through as powerfully as ever.
Arrived February 2018.
Purchase from the New Star Books website or at your local bookstore. $18.
Late style and friendship.
The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.