Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with George Bowering

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George Bowering

Legendary Canadian poet George Bowering enters new territory this fall with a memoir, Pinboy (Cormorant Books). Pinboy is set in the Okanagan Valley of the 1950s and sees a teenaged George vying for the love of three different women: his first love, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks and one of his high school teachers.

Today George tackles the Dirty Dozen, our unorthodox interview series that asks writers to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves (with a few bonuses facts in George's case).

Read on to hear from George about a family of southpaws, a fear of towers and a love of Shelley.

  1. I have kept track of every book I have read since I was 14, or was it 12? I know the author, title, publisher and approximate date of each, and I keep track of the number of books I have read by that author. I have read 99 books by Donald E. Westlake. I have read 25 books by Daniel Pinkwater.
  2. I am colour blind when it comes to things that are, I am told, green.
  3. The first 45-rpm record I bought was “The Cry of theWild Goose,” by Frankie Laine. The first LP 33.3 record I bought was something by Charlie Parker’s quintet with the kid Miles Davis on trumpet. I bought it long before I had a 33.3 record player, and eventually gave it to Ellen Tallman, who had one.
  4. One of my grandfathers was from the west country in England, and the other was from the Ozarks in the U.S., so I am a truly concocted Canadian. One of my grandmothers was from Ontario, and the other from Oregon.
  5. My serial number in the R.C.A.F., in which I was an aerial photographer, was 227498. My pal Fred Miller’s number was 216419.
  6. I am a right-handed person in a left-handed family.
  7. When I was a young punk would-be writer I hoped that my first book of poetry would be published by Contact Press and that my first novel would be published by M&S. Both things happened. I thought I was on my way.
  8. When I was four I thought that I might be the first human being to live forever on this earth. Then I thought I might have superpowers. Then I thought that I might be the reincarnation of Jesus. Then when I was five I started going to school and learned that I was a mammal.
  9. I am too scared to go up in a tower, such as those in Toronto, Seattle and Calgary. I once visited the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, and went one floor belowground to a chicken restaurant.
  10. When I was a kid I would not eat chicken or fish but I loved liver or kidneys. Now I like trying out liver and onions as made by, say, Italian and French restaurants. One of the best orders of liver and onions I ever had was with Robert Kroetsch in Chemainus, B.C.
  11. My favourite Canadian writer is Robert Kroetsch. I have read 25 of his books. My favourite living U.S. writer is Jerome Charyn. I have read 47 of his books. My favourite Canadian book is Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook. My favourite dead writer is Samuel Beckett. My favourite poet all-time is Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  12. But lots of other writers are close.
  13. When I was a boy I said that when I got old enough I would change my first name to Theodore and become a USAmerican and a sports reporter. None of those came true, thank goodness.
  14. I am thoroughly ashamed that I love a USAmerican candy bar called “Payday.”
  15. Oops. This device let me go past 12.


George Bowering is a poet, writer, biographer and historian. He has written over ninety works and was the first Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada. He has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and Poetry. In 1993, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2004 received the Order of British Columbia. Having lived all across Canada, including Montreal, Calgary and London, Ontario, he is currently living the good life and is retired in Vancouver, BC.

For more information about Pinboy please visit the Cormorant website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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