George Bowering was born in Penticton, where his great-grandfather Willis Brinson lived, and Bowering has never been all that far from the Okanagan Valley in his heart and imagination. Early in the twenty-first century, he was made a permanent citizen of Oliver. Bowering has family up and down the Valley, and he goes there as often as he can. He has been asked during his many visits to Okanagan bookstores over the years to publish a collection of his writing about the Valley.
Writing the Okanagan draws on forty books Bowering has published since 1960 – poetry, fiction, history, and some forms he may have invented. Selections from Delsing (1961) and Sticks & Stones (1962) are here, as is “Driving to Kelowna” from The Silver Wire (1966). Other Okanagan towns, among them Rock Creek, Peachland, Vernon, Kamloops, Princeton, and Osoyoos, inspire selections from work published through the 1970s and on to 2013. Fairview, the old mining site near Oliver, is the focus of an excerpt from Caprice (1987, 2010), one volume in Bowering’s trilogy of historical novels. “Desert Elm” takes as its two main subjects the Okanagan Valley and his father, who, as Bowering did, grew up there. With the addition of some previously unpublished works, the reader will find the wonder of the Okanagan here, in both prose and poetry.
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 also been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, and Romanian.
Bowering has twice won the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s top literary prize. In 2019 he received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia.
“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