"I grew up in a blue-collar town ten minutes down the road from a white-collar town. And I've spent most of my life uncomfortable in both places."; -- Tim Bowling

Born in Vancouver and raised in Ladner in a salmon fishing family, Tim Bowling moved to Edmonton, returned to live on the West Coast at Gibsons in 2005, then returned to live in Edmonton where he lives with fellow writer Theresa Shea and their three children.

Bowling has had a Canadian Authors Association Award, two Governor General's Award nominations, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and won Alberta's Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry three times. [See below]

"I grew up along the banks of the Fraser River in a salmon fishing family," he says. "That experience shaped me in ways I'm still trying to understand."

For his poetry collection Fathom, he wrote, "The eye of the poems is not a child's eye; it sees the sadness and pain of the Great War veterans living in small apartments and the homesickness of Greek immigrants and the racism of an earlier time when 'we called a chinaman a chinaman'; it sees the native place as part of a much broader human story played out over generations. Yet there's always gratitude and affirmation implicit in the poems. I've tried to pay the river and the marshes and the salmon and the people of my hometown back with metaphor, the one form of wildness we possess that's worthy of the earth. Well, metaphor and love - because I loved my hometown, its oddball mix of fishermen and farmers, its eerie, trembling half-mile between the totem pole and cenotaph, its rain-swollen blackberries and orange-gold salmonberries, its particular flavour never to be tasted again, but just there, hovering, an inch from the lips. Even so, I wrote Fathom without any grand overarching design. I just wanted to be honest and as vivid as possible about the world that means more to me than any other."

As of 2014, Bowling had been nominated for the annual Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize eight times in the preceding fourteen years--but had not yet won it. He is also frequently nominated for the annual Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry, one of nine Alberta Literary Awards, administered by the Writers Guild of Alberta. His poetry titles include Low Water Slack (1995); Dying Scarlet (1997), winner of the 1998 Stephan G. Stephansson Award; The Thin Smoke of the Heart (2000); Darkness and Silence (2001), winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry; The Witness Ghost (Nightwood, 2003), The Memory Orchard (Brick Books, 2004), Fathom (Gaspereau, 2006) and The Book Collector (Nightwood, 2008). He was again nominated for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for his tenth collection of poems, Tenderman (Nightwood 2011) and his eleventh, Selected Poems (2013) in 2014.

As another retrospective look at the West Coast fishery, Fathom received the Stephansson Award at the Writers Guild of Alberta's awards gala on September, 29, 2007, in Grande Prairie. He was then awarded the 2008 Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction for his lyrical memoir, The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture ($29.95, Nightwood Editions), an impassioned lament for the home Bowling once knew and for the river that continues to haunt his imagination. He has also won the Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Award and the Orillia International Poetry Prize.

Bowling has also published the novels Downriver Drift [2000], The Paperboy's Winter (Penguin, 2003) and The Tinsmith (2012), plus his collection of interviews entitled Where the Words Come From: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood, 2002).

After spending five weeks caretaking an eighty-acre ranch just outside Dinosaur Provincial Park in the spring of 1999, Bowling researched the life and times of American bone hunter Charles Sternberg (1850-1943), a student of evolutionist and paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope, for his novel about the Alberta badlands during World War One, The Bone Sharps (Gaspereau, 2007). In the same year, Bowling once more lamented the degradation of his hometown with his nostalgic view of his family's gillnetting roots in The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture (Nightwood, 2007), shortlisted for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize.

Known for his many books about the contemporary fishing industry on the West Coast, Tim Bowling starts his novel The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass 2012) at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. An assistant surgeon with the Union Army, Anson Baird survives the American Civil War and helps a black slave named John assume a new identity in British Columbia where they combat the unscrupulous business practices of the pioneer salmon canners some twenty years later.

Bowling's collection of poetry, Tenderman ($18.95, Nightwood Editions), was nominated for the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry, which is awarded annually to a Canadian poet whose work is accessible to all people in its use of language and image and follows in the tradition of some of Canada's major poets such as Milton Acorn, Ted Plantos, Dorothy Livesay and Al Purdy.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture
The Witness Ghost


Slack (1995)
Dying Scarlet (Nightwood, 1997)
The Thin Smoke of the Heart (McGill-Queen's, 2000)
Downriver Drift [2000]
Darkness and Silence [2001]
The Witness Ghost (Nightwood, 2003)
The Paperboy's Winter (Penguin, 2003)
The Memory Orchard (Brick Books, 2004)
Fathom (Gaspereau, 2006)
The Bone Sharps (Gaspereau, 2007)
The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture (Nightwood, 2007)
The Book Collector (Nightwood Editions 2008)
Tenderman (Nightwood Editions 2011)
The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass, 2012). 978-1-926972-43-5 $21.95 novel
Selected Poems (Nightwood Editions 2013) $22.95 978-0-88971-278-2
Circa Nineteen Hundred and Grief (Gaspereau 2014) $19.95 9781554471348
The Duende of Tetherball: Poems (Nightwood 2016) $18.95 978-0-88971-325-3

[BCBW 2016] "Fiction" "Poetry" "Fishing"