Canada’s former poet laureate looks back at a life lived in literature and hockey fandom
Hockey forms the backdrop of our lives. For many Canadians, the big moments — births, deaths, marriages, moves — are all mixed up with the wins and losses of our teams. The voices of Hockey Night in Canada sportscasters are our soundtrack, and visions of skates scraping across the ice lull us to sleep.
George Bowering, Canada’s former poet laureate, is no different. Growing up in Oliver, B.C., Bowering was entranced by the kids from Saskatchewan who skated and handled pucks as easily as breathing. His fascination with hockey followed him into adult life, from B.C. to Quebec and back again. Bowering followed his teams with a critical eye and a fan’s passion, and his stories bring us on a cross-country hockey-themed road trip, with occasional forays into boxing, poetry, and sports fashion.
Bowering has an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. He has been an avid and attentive hockey fan since boyhood, and has an extensive catalogue of thoughts and opinions on the personalities and events that populate Canadian hockey history.
George Bowering was born and brought up in the Okanagan Valley, amid sand dunes and sagebrush, but he has lived in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta, great sources of hockey stars. Along the way he has stopped to write several books on baseball. He has also picked up Governor General awards for his poetry and fiction, and otherwise been rewarded with prizes for his books, except in his home province of British Columbia. His earlier ECW book, His Life, was a finalist for the Governor General award for 2000. He lives in Vancouver.