I first met George Bowering and his wife Angela at a writers’ party in Montreal in 1967. I was teaching at Sir George Williams (now part of Concordia), and so was he. She was wearing a mini-dress and white knee-high go-go boots, one of the fashions then; he was wearing a Donald Duck tie and doing a silly duck walk, and quacking—he was in the habit of acting up to disguise shyness, I suppose—eliciting from Angela the cry of, “Oh George!” that was familiar to all acquainted with their curious doubles act, in which George would step outside the lines in a deliberately embarrassing manner and Angela would catch him doing it and rebuke him for it. In those early days, she would also giggle delightedly. How could he be so naughty?
The English Canadian writing community was quite small then. Maybe it wasn’t a community as such, but a flotsam-jetsam agglomeration of people interested in writing, and a small enough agglomeration so that those individuals tended to clump together for warmth. It was mostly the poets who knew one another, they having drifted hither and thither on buses and other modes of cheap transport and also having read together in various dives and at various universities. (The novelists were mostly holed up in private, bashing out their novels on their typewriters, though I did meet Clark Blaise in Montreal then as we were both teaching at Sir George; and Mordecai Richler wafted through town, and John Glassco was there, and Hugh Hood.) There were not yet any writers’ festivals, and Jack McClelland had just started his ambitions and successful cross-country book tours, so you met other writers by happenstance, and through mutual friends. Poets in or around Montreal, or coming through for readings, included F.R. Scott, Gwendolyn MacEwen, and Doug Jones, Al Purdy, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen. And George Bowering. . . .
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