In the Summer of Bowering, Geist blogger and Poetry Is Dead magazine Editor-in-Chief Daniel Zomparelli will be reviewing George Bowering's latest poetry collection, My Darling Nellie Grey. The collection is divided into twelve chapters, named for each month of the year, and Zomparelli will review one chapter a week all summer long.
The final week and chapter of My Darling Nellie Grey is here, and it kind of feels like that last scene in Dirty Dancing, where Baby finally makes the lift and then everyone dances in harmony. Well maybe it's not like that, but the idea of looking back on the summer and reflecting reminds me very much of the chapter of December, "There Then." Bowering uses the alphabet to recount places he has been to and did not set aside a specific form to abide by. Starting with Aarhus and ending in Zurich. What he produces is a variety of memories through different shapes and forms. My Darling Nellie Grey is very much a recounting of George Bowering from the point of view of George Bowering, and this last chapter is a flash through his life. Moving through time and location we see his history, poem by poem. I couldn't think of a better way to end this book.
As the chapter progresses, Bowering plays with stories that we've encountered in earlier chapters, so a fuzzy history of George Bowering slowly pieces itself together. His childhood, his teenager years, his persona as a poet, those he lost, and Jean Baird (his current wife) pops up in a few. Bowering's autobiography through poems is intimate without being overly sentimental. After spending the summer with his book, I can't help but think that he's a good friend that I can call up anytime. Fortunately for Mr. Bowering, I don't have his number and I am a lazy stalker.
When Bowering closes his book, and ends the year, he does so in a way that summarizes how some writers/poets feel about writing.
But I'll always be here at the edge,
almost not anywhere, nearly
asleep, tired of letters
and unable to speak the language.
He finishes each poem with places that start with the letter in the alphabet he is writing in, and his final poem has the locations "Zacatecas/Zadar/Zenith" dangling at the edge of the page. To explain this I will quote Bowering in his introduction, "But where have we really been? The last word for December and for 2006, before I leave you with the names of the last three cities, will tell you."
Join us next week with the final Summer of Bowering post, which includes an interview with Mr. Bowering himself. See what happens when an old sassy poet meets with a young sassy poet. For now, I leave you with George's latest interview with the Vancouver Sun, "Loudmouth fan finds poetry in devotion."