Vermeer's Light

By George Bowering

Vermeer's Light
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George Bowering has always maintained many of his poems are germinated in secret ways—secrets he has, until now, assiduously kept to himself. In suddenly giving most of those secrets away, Vermeer’s Light, much of it written while Bowering was “in office” as Canada’s ... Read more


Overview

George Bowering has always maintained many of his poems are germinated in secret ways—secrets he has, until now, assiduously kept to himself. In suddenly giving most of those secrets away, Vermeer’s Light, much of it written while Bowering was “in office” as Canada’s first Poet Laureate, constitutes an extraordinary gesture of generosity from a poet to his readership who has so honoured him. Its alphabet series A, You’re Adorable, by “Ellen Field,” a pseudonym Bowering often used in the 1990s; Imaginary Poems for AMB, addressed to his late wife Angela; He Is Not, a micro-translation of Shelley’s Adonais; Q&A, which dares to take on the most fundamental questions of the human condition with level-headed honesty and wit—the list of revelations and the pyrotechnics of Bowering’s craft presented here are spellbinding.

But the greatest astonishment about this celebratory collection from a poet at the height of his powers is that it contains all eight variations of “Grandfather,” Bowering’s most anthologized poem to date, set into an essay, Rewriting My Grandfather, like eight jewels in a crown at the end of the book. It is here that the poet presents his readers with a voyage of discovery; that the buried treasure of his invisible but adamantine craft is to be found; and the gift of entrance into how George Bowering creates his work is revealed.

Reviews

“One of Canadian literature’s chief mockers and iconoclasts. ” – Vancouver Sun

“One of Canada’s most original writers. ” – Calgary Herald

“One of Canada’s most original writers. ” – Calgary Herald

At the core of the book is the raw, emotional force of ‘Imaginary Poems for AMB’ … Harrowing and heartbreaking, these pages walk the tightrope of sentiment without falling into sentimentality. Despite the far-ranging subject matter and approaches, the volume is characterized by the terse honesty, purity of voice, and wry humour that are Bowering’s trademark. Particularly outstanding, even in this impressive company, is the closing section of the book, a lengthy essay entitled ‘Rewriting My Grandfather’ … It’s a tour de force, and a window into the mind of one of Canada’s most significant poets. ” – Quill & Quire

“Bowering is both highly skilled in the formal aspects of poetry and perfectly accessible to the average reader … A delightful collection that may inspire readers to seek out Bowering’s earlier work. ”  Booklist

At the core of the book is the raw, emotional force of ‘Imaginary Poems for AMB’ … Harrowing and heartbreaking, these pages walk the tightrope of sentiment without falling into sentimentality. Despite the far-ranging subject matter and approaches, the volume is characterized by the terse honesty, purity of voice, and wry humour that are Bowering’s trademark. Particularly outstanding, even in this impressive company, is the closing section of the book, a lengthy essay entitled ‘Rewriting My Grandfather’ … It’s a tour de force, and a window into the mind of one of Canada’s most significant poets. ” – Quill & Quire

“Bowering is the poet of delight in earthly matters, of bemusement at the self. His lyrics turn out the streetlights (who needs them!) and light up the stars. ” – 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize Jury

“Bowering is both highly skilled in the formal aspects of poetry and perfectly accessible to the average reader … A delightful collection that may inspire readers to seek out Bowering’s earlier work. ”  Booklist

“Whatever the subject—heartfelt elegies to his late wife, lively commentary on baseball, wry social observations in Vancouver cafeterias—Bowering’s work is about creating effects in language. His essay ‘Rewriting My Grandfather,’ which concludes the book, offers wonderful insight into this process … Bowering scores lots of hits himself in Vermeer’s Light. He’s got an Old Master’s touch, indeed. ”
– Toronto Star

“Bowering is the poet of delight in earthly matters, of bemusement at the self. His lyrics turn out the streetlights (who needs them!) and light up the stars. ” – 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize Jury

“One of Canadian literature’s chief mockers and iconoclasts. ” – Vancouver Sun

“Whatever the subject—heartfelt elegies to his late wife, lively commentary on baseball, wry social observations in Vancouver cafeterias—Bowering’s work is about creating effects in language. His essay ‘Rewriting My Grandfather,’ which concludes the book, offers wonderful insight into this process … Bowering scores lots of hits himself in Vermeer’s Light. He’s got an Old Master’s touch, indeed. ”
– Toronto Star

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