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Winners & Finalists

Winner! 2011 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence

George Bowering

George Bowering

After serving as an aerial photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Bowering earned a BA in English and an MA in History at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders of the avant-garde poetry magazine TISH. He has taught literature at the University of Calgary, Sir George Williams University (now Concordia U), universities in Berlin, Rome and Aarhus, and at Simon Fraser University. He continues to act as a Canadian literary ambassador at international conferences and readings.

A distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian and tireless supporter of fellow writers, Bowering has authored more than 80 books, including works of poetry, fiction, autobiography, biography and youth fiction. His writing has also been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese and Romanian.

Bowering is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award and has been shortlisted for the Griffin Prize for Poetry and the Vancouver Book Award. In November 2002, he was appointed the first Canadian Poet Laureate. That same month, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2004, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia.

George Bowering was chosen as the recipient of the 2011 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence because of his remarkable literary output, his passion for teaching and encouraging other writers, for being a tireless champion of other writers and for the crucial role he has played in the shaping of literary communities.

Bowering is a major Canadian literary figure and one of the most prolific writers in the country. As a poet, he is one of the pioneers of a poetics that allows you to measure your particular place in the world through verse. His career as a prose writer of both novels and short stories matches the scope and impact of his poetry career.

It is worth noting that he was the first English writer to be honoured with a Governor General’s Award in both the fiction and poetry categories. He received the GG for Poetry in 1969 and for Fiction in 1980. Since that time only two other writers have been so honoured—Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.

Bowering’s interest in Canadian history is evident in his novels, short stories and popular histories. He has also chronicled our literary history and as a critic, novelist, poet, essayist and friend, he has created a remarkable record of our Canadian literary figures. He has encouraged and nurtured many of those voices by editing, teaching and advising.

As an editor, essayist and teacher, he is passionate about promoting and encouraging other writers. At numerous universities he has championed Canadian writing and writers, and organized conferences and readings. At SFU he developed a favourite course with students about BC literature. Teaching has provided Bowering with a way to inspire and share his passion for literature, and his commitment to teaching extends far beyond the classroom. Although he is now retired from SFU as professor emeritus, his teaching continues and he acted as the writer-in- residence at the University of Western Ontario in 2003–2004.

George Bowering approaches literature as he does life: with a playful gravity and a grave merriness that makes intellectual life and writing seem at once attractive, unintimidating and remarkable. He dispels the myth of literature being hard or tricky and demonstrates, as he reads and speaks, the accessible and enriching nature of great literature. He is generous with his time and that generosity has touched lives and launched careers. Bowering has both a national and international reputation and he is one of British Columbia’s loudest voices for the promotion of BC writing and writers.

George Bowering, OC, OBC, is extremely deserving of the recognition of the eighth annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

2011 Jury: Jane Davidson, producer of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts; Rob Sanders, publisher of Greystone Books; three-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winner, Audrey Thomas.