This week, The Minerva Reader features ​​​​Teeth by George Bowering (Mansfield Press).

Mansfield Press commented that ‘Every new collection by George Bowering is an event in Canadian poetry. His latest book—topping a six-decade writing career—is an eclectic, lively mix of free verse, list poems, haiku, and more. Whether Bowering is taking on the big themes—love, mortality, politics—or the mundane or trivial, his poems are fresh, snappy, and always provocative.’
I first read Teeth in 2013. I attended the launch and, as a great fan of George Bowering, I was eager to read the collection. Teeth has been on my mind and I recently took it out for a fresh read, wanting to feature it on The Minerva Reader. I think if there is one thing that characterizes books that I feature, it’s their unflinching honesty when it comes to human frailties. Paint the portrait with humour and paint it stripped of smothering kindness. There is no smothering kindness in Teeth.
I also enjoyed the interview with the author at the end of the book.
Judith Fitzgerald: What makes a poet a poet?
George Bowering: What a terrible question! I mean how should I know? I mean that’s for me to know and you to find out. I mean if I told you we’d both know. I mean do I look like the Answer Man? I mean you tell me, and we’ll both know. I mean it depends on a lot of variables. I mean we’re working on it.
Okay, it’s time for me to quit futzing about, if that is what I have been doing.
What makes a poet a poet?
1. Insatiable curiousity about the facts.
2. an ear that likes what words do other than designate.
3. a desire to continue the work.
4. A lot of skepticism.
5. A love for oneself as a stranger to oneself.
6. A highly competitive ego-loss.
7. Compassion on the part of one of the nine muses.
8. The inability to leave the house without a book in hand.
9. A record of failing one class in highschool.
JF: Do you see a certain tendency to consider the creation of poetry a “career”, a “profession,” a “gig”? how do you view such brazen admissions?
GB: I can’t forget that the word career still hangs on to its root meaning that has to do with a road, a racetrack, a highway, etc. Carrera—get out there and drive, and arrive somewhere. I don’t think I write to get somewhere, unless it is to the end of the line or sentence, and then you do want to put that off, don’t you?

"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press