This latest poetry book from Bowering is a loosely assembled gathering of his recent writing, including half a dozen prose sketches and two or three series that appear undertaken to pass the time while travelling. As he writes in the book’s opening section about the unexpected visits made by Death, “So we fill our days / or allow them to fill / with inconsequence, not exactly planning / to continue till / to our surprise / the fellow is here” (17). But Bowering too can surprise, with his poems, even if filling his days.
It’s that opening section, one that is mostly about living in years in which “the fellow” Death often calls, that makes this book worth buying – at least it does for this reader who is close to those years himself. The poems here are especially disturbing because they come from a writer who for so long has seemed athletic and indestructible. But, as the cover image suggests, we live for a while only because others die, and eventually those others include ourselves, poor fish.
The second interesting aspect of this section, and of the poems throughout, is how much they are reminiscent of Louis Dudek’s final poem project, Continuation – similar random observations about "the world," similar reflections on humanity then and now, similar affirmations of the persistence of poetry despite changing times. Well, they were written at similar (st)ages.
The concluding section of the book, although a time-passing cruise ship exercise, is also strong. Bowering had taken a college anthology of Canadian literature with him on this cruise, and