Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Literary Criticism Poetry

Good Morning Poems

a start to the day from famous English-language poets

by (author) George Bowering

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Poetry, Essays, Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Canadian literary legend George Bowering lays bare his process as reader and lover of poetry in this curated collection of poems to be read in the morning.

In a series of deeply astute and conversational essays, two-time Governor General's Award winner and inaugural Parlimentary Poet Laureate of Canada George Bowering travels through five hundred years, give or take, of English-language literature, adding historical, political, feminist, socio-economic, anecdotal, and literary context to each poem and poet. His selection of poems ranges from the best known to the barely known, each piece treated with depth and reverence, while demonstrating his razor-sharp wit and skill as writer, critic, and reader.

Recalling the work of George Saunders and Sina Queyras, in their interactions with established literature, George's insight in the poetic mind is invaluable, making this is must-read collection for anyone interested in reading or writing poetry.

About the author

George Bowering, Canada’s first Poet Laureate, was born in the Okanagan Valley.After serving as an aerial photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Bowering earned a BA in English and an MA in history at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders of the avant-garde poetry magazine TISH. He has taught literature at the University of Calgary, the University of Western Ontario, and Simon Fraser University, and he continues to act as a Canadian literary ambassador at international conferences and readings.A distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian, and tireless supporter of fellow writers, Bowering has authored more than eighty books, including works of poetry, fiction, autobiography, biography, and youth fiction. His writing has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, and Romanian.Talon has published Bowering’s Taking Measures, a collection of serial poems.Bowering has twice won the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s top literary prize.

George Bowering's profile page

Excerpt: Good Morning Poems: a start to the day from famous English-language poets (by (author) George Bowering)

Preface: First Thing in the Morning

The older I get, the more things I have to do first thing in the morning. You know, exercises, face washing, eye drops, air puffer, pills, hearing aids, and so forth. It takes nearly an hour to get to cereal and banana and coffee. These are all things I have to do before I get to do what I want to do--which is to read a poem. Morning is the best time to read a poem. One morning it might be some lines by Christopher Marlowe. Next morning it could be the new volume from Nicole Brossard--in French or English. Often I will go page by page through a new edition of a book by one of my friends. But if you are going to read a poem to welcome your day, it seems to me best to choose something you've read before, either a return to something you could not quite follow some decades earlier or a poem you've read so often that you just about have it by heart.

Some people like to go for a walk in the woods or to the coffee shop in the morning. Some poets have even written poems about morning walks. I'm not that extreme--I'll settle for a chair at the table, a cup of dark coffee, and a page or two of Denise Levertov. Lots of poets have written to or about the early hours, which suggests that if you are working on the New York Times crossword and thus have a pen in your hand, it might be as pleasant to write a poem as to read one. I'd just as soon read a poem, though, say "January Morning" by William Carlos Williams, any month of the year.

Maybe my morning poem routine began before my morning coffee did. When I was a boy I had a series of books entitled Junior Classics, ten volumes from Collier. The books were colour coded, with Volume 10 being pink for poems. I eventually let my sister keep the other nine books and kept this one, which is now a hundred years old. There are many forgettable poems and forgotten poets in it, but that is where I first found Shelley's skylark and Goldsmith's deserted village, and the north wind that blew Anonymous my way.

I guess I've always wanted to put together a collection of the poems I like. It's likely that lots of people, whether they read poems in the morning or not, would like to make such an anthology. Maybe some of them think that it would be interesting to make a few remarks to or about the poems and put them across the page from each one. I know I did, and here they are. I hope that readers might like to offer their own responses--to the poems or to the other pages.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Good Morning Poems

"Bowering the reader of poems returns us to a place of wonder and mystery--with no irritable reaching after fact and reason--as though every poem is the first poem ever read--a cypher, a delight, a breathing of new life into the world. More than a mere anthology of favourite poems, or a retired professors final words on the greats, Bowering here gives us a slice of daily life where the living has been in through and with poems that have been intimate and steadfast companions for decades. The attention is exquisite."

--Stephen Collis, author of A History of the Theory of Rain

"What a great way to start the day. Good morning, poetry. Bowering torques Gertrude Stein's note on "History teaches" to "Let me recite what poetry teaches. Poetry teaches". The familiarity of the poems themselves is a treat but to revisit them alongside an intelligent poetic and critical skill is like getting a croissant with your coffee. As he has lived in writing for most of his life, Bowering inhabits the English poetic canon with great care and attention. Thankfully his pleasure of the poem embellishes our own so that the music of words sets the day ahead full of imagination."

--Fred Wah, award-winning author of Music at the Heart of Thinking and Faking It: Poetics & Hybridity

"George Bowering's title Good Morning Poems, can be variously read - as a greeting to historic poems, as poems from centuries-ago mornings that are "good," and as poems that welcome you to today. These seem to be poems which have been welcoming Bowering for quite a while, from "Back in the mists of time when I was a university English student." Yet overall his selections and one-page commentaries approach current expectations for race and gender diversity - one of numerous surprises he can find for us in these still welcoming lyrics."

--Frank Davey, award-winning author of Poems Suitable to Current Material Conditions, and aka bpNichol: a preliminary biography

"I am not a morning person. I am, though, a George Bowering person -- and this neat little book gives readers access not only to Bowering the writer, but to George the mentor, teacher, and language-drunk friend, dizzy with all the possibilities of words, phrases, sentences, images, allusions, metaphors, assonances, and rhymes. Here he is in all of his infectious enthusiasm for some of the finest poetry ever written in English. I can't imagine a better guide."

--Charles Demers, author of Property Values

Other titles by