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Poetry Canadian

Taking Measures

Selected Serial Poems

by (author) George Bowering

edited by Stephen Collis

Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Canadian, General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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The first-ever collection of the major serial poems by Canada’s inaugural Parliamentory Poet Laureate, George Bowering, Taking Measures includes work from each of the last six decades, beginning with Bowering's engagement with process-based long poems in the 1960s and 1970s and moving through his continued exploration of the form in recent decades. Containing well-known Bowering texts, including Allophanes, Autobiology, Delayed Mercy, Genève, and Kerrisdale Elegies, as well as Baseball, At War with the U.S., Irritable Reaching, Smoking Mirror, Do Sink, His Life, and Los Pájanos de Tenacatita, Taking Measures offers a new and revealing look at this acclaimed and prolific author’s poetic development and contribution to Canadian writing.

The serial poem is a hybrid genre, stitching short lyrics together into sequential, long (typically book-length) poems; Bowering’s innovative use of the form, always rooted in an engagement with place, with language, and with the intertwining of the two, shows him at his experimental and irreverent best, his trademark playful seriousness extended and expanded, producing poetry that remains compelling, complex, and exciting decades after its composition. Edited by the award-winning poet Stephen Collis, Taking Measures offers a career-spanning and revelatory sample of one of Canada’s best-known and most versatile writers.

About the authors

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

Stephen Collis is the author of seven books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize–winning On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010). Other titles include Anarchive (New Star, 2005, also nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), The Commons (Talonbooks, 2008, 2014), To the Barricades (Talonbooks, 2013), Decomp (co-authored with Jordan Scott, Coach House, 2013), Once in Blockadia (Talonbooks, 2016), and A History of the Theories of Rain (Talonbooks, 2021), nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. An activist and social critic, his writing on the Occupy movement is collected in Dispatches from the Occupation (Talonbooks, 2012).Collis is also the author of two book-length studies, Phyllis Webb and the Common Good (Talonbooks, 2007) and Through Words of Others: Susan Howe and Anarcho-Scholasticism (ELS Editions, 2006), as well as the editor, with Graham Lyons, of Reading Duncan Reading: Robert Duncan and the Poetics of Derivation (Iowa University Press, 2012). His memoir, Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten, was published by Talonbooks in 2018. He teaches contemporary poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.Collis was the 2019 recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, which is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.

Stephen Collis' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"What I learned from reading George Bowering! Few of my books would exist without his joyful mixcentrations, Anne Hébert with Mallarmé, Avison spills tea on Saint-John Perse. In generously sounding poetry’s idioms, fearless foot in mouth if needed, George Bowering’s serial work quixotes us without quitting. It hurrahs us all."
—Erín Moure~||~ "‘A serial poem,’ Robin Blaser writes, ‘refuses to adopt an imposed story line.’ So the poems in Taking Measures begin over and over, tracking Bowering’s narrative momentum, poetic sensibility, and wit. When the poem moves in a new direction, the way it goes is not premeditated; rather, it arises out of the poet’s alertness to his Muse in language."
—George Stanley~||~ "Taking Measures is a box of treasures. These poems are serial, yes, but they are also dendritic, in the way they have made way for other poems by other poets, and in other ways. When you’re reading George Bowering and you stop, reverse, and re-read, then lift your eyes up off the page to go where your thoughts are going past that, you’re in the procedure; you’re wonderfully forever in it. Also: pleasures."
—Wayde Compton~||~ "In delving into this recently published collection, we have proof of what we already suspected of George Bowering’s work ... This book is a must-read."
—Alessandra Capperdoni, Canadian Literature / Littérature canadienne~||~ "A beautiful edition and a gift to Bowering’s readers."
—Nicholas Bradley, The Ormsby Review~||~

"A beautiful edition and a gift to Bowering’s readers."
—Nicholas Bradley, The Ormsby Review

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