Born in San Francisco in 1934, poet George Stanley grew up in San Francisco where he became associated with the writing circle of Jack Spicer. Stanley came to Canada in 1971 and taught college English for 26 years, mainly in Terrace, before retiring to live in Vancouver. He became a Canadian citizen in 1978 and received the Shelley Memorial Award in 2006. Vancouver: A Poem was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2009.

With an introduction by Sharon Thesen, George Stanley's North of California Street (New Star 2014) collects 53 poems originally published between 1973 and 1999 in various now-out-of-print books. They include "Mountains & Air," "Raft," "The Set," "The Berlin Wall," "For Prince George," "Terrace Landscapes" and the 16-part poem "San Francisco's Gone," including "Veracruz."

In 2018, co-published a volume of poetry Some End/West Broadway (New Star $18) with George Bowering. Back to back, one half, titled West Broadway, is narrative and lyrical work from Stanley set along West Broadway, a major arterial road on Vancouver's West Side.


Some End/West Broadway
by George Bowering and George Stanley

(New Star $18)

Review by Danny Peart

This small book of poems is an unusual enterprise. One side of the book includes 31 new poems by George Bowering. When you flip over this tumble book (or flip book), you find 43 more pages of poetry and prose by George Stanley.

The book cover is made up of two halves of the strong and bright imagery of Jack Shadbolt?s 1995 painting, ?Encounter.?

Canada?s first poet laureate, George Bowering, was born in the Okanagan Valley. 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, history, autobiography, biography, and youth fiction.

His most recent books include Writing the Okanagan (Talonbooks, 2015) 10 Women (Anvil, 2015), The Hockey Scribbler (ECW Press, 2016), and The Dad Dialogues (with Charles Demers, Arsenal, 2016). He is an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of British Columbia.

Born in San Francisco, george Stanley has lived in B.C. since 1971 and has been a Canadian citizen since 1978. He taught English in B.C. community colleges for 26 years, publishing nine books of poetry on the way, the most recent of which are After Desire (2013) and North of California Street (2014), both from New Star. West Broadway is his tenth book of poetry.

Bowering?s half contains a table of contents; George Stanley?s does not.
Early in Bowering?s section he reveals, ?The world speaks to me/in sentences.? We also learn, though, that he fell into a coma for two weeks and that:
Being in a coma can play havoc with your sense of time. It can turn your eyes from brown to blue.

Three years ago he was walking his dog, Mickey, when he collapsed from a cardiac arrest outside the West Point Grey Library. Ivy Zhang, a Grade 8 student, and others helped to get him medical attention in time to save his life and aid in his recovery.

In ?Speech Language,? he detects ??a new understanding that something awful/ this way comes with appetite for you.?
I especially enjoyed his poem about his friendship with Al Purdy, ?The Country North of Summer,? which ends:
The grave wherein my pen pal is laid lies at the bottom of a country road saying his name.

It?s a dandy place to lean against the stone book and read a bunch of poems, except in winter.

In ?The Weight,? Bowering offers recognition to the poet Margaret Avison that he feels she fully deserves. I confess I had not heard of her prior to this?yet she won the Governor General?s Literary Award twice as well as the Griffin Poetry Prize.

George Stanley includes many Vancouver references, including this stanza from ?Our Age (an imitation),? after the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova:
West Point Grey chills in late sunlight, sun?s rays gleam off shop windows & cars, but deep scratches have appeared in some of the house doors, and rows of ravens weigh down the power lines.
In ?To a Young Voter,? Stanley reflects that:
I can?t take politics seriously, at 82 I?m too preoccupied with my own mortality. But I can go ?meta??I can take your taking politics seriously?.
Stanley and Bowering also address poems to each other. Bowering?s starts, ?I?ll be in your poem if you?ll be in mine,? and Stanley responds with his ?Letter to George Bowering:
? Yet out my window the building across Balaclava Kidsbooks used to occupy will come down soon. The city changes faster than the heart. We?re reading our next books.

It reassuring to see these two veteran writers, in their eighties, laughing together in the photo from their Vancouver book launch this year.


Danny Peart has published three books of poetry and stories: Ruined By Love (2012), Stark Naked in a Laundromat: The Port Dalhousie Stories (2016), and Another Mountain to Climb (2017), all published by Milagro Press. He lives in Vancouver.


You (1973)
Opening Day (1983)
Gentle Northern Summer (New Star, 1995)
At Andy's (New Star, 2000)
A Tall, Serious Girl (New York: Qua Press, 2003)
Vancouver: A Poem (New Star, 2008).
After Desire (New Star 2013) 96 pages, 5√?8 inches $18 9781554200702
North of California Street: Selected Poems (New Star Books 2014) $21.00 978-1-55420-082-5
Some End/West Broadway (New Star 2018) $18 978-1-55420-145-7. One half of book contains poems by George Bowering; other half of book has poems by George Stanley

Photo by Mandelbrot

[BCBW 2018] "Poetry"