Wednesday, April 24, 2013



A week to go on this daily blogging thing, then I'm taking a break. I've really enjoyed writing little blurbs about various poetry books—some old, some new. Today, I'm looking at one that was published in 1971 by The Coach House Press, now Coach House Books. 

Genève, by George Bowering, is a series of thirty-eight poems written in Montreal between July 5, 1969 and February 8, 1970. Each is based on the image of a tarot card, in the major arcana plus face cards, drawn randomly by the author. The poems are snapshot-like descriptions of the poet's impression of the image on the card and delve as well into quotidian thoughts and events in his life at the time he was writing.

The text is printed in three signatures on a sort of orangey-red paper. No page numbers. Without the cover, you'd have to open the book to see what it was. You don't see a lot of books made like this anymore. 

A very, very neat thing about this book is the cover. It's double folded, 

and on the inside is a photograph of all the cards laid out in poem order, starting with the first card Bowering pulled in the centre of the spiral. Interestingly, because he swears it was random, the last card is La Mort. (And if it wasn't random, that's sure where I'd have stopped!)

These meditations, for they are that, are quite wonderful to read, especially when you look at the pictures of the cards that inspired them. The poet's sense of humour keeps showing up, as:

     (NOW THE WOMEN are appearing
                          or are they as they would appear
     only men in skirts & jewels?)

Of this fellow standing behind a table, the poet asks:

               WHY SHOULD I TRUST this one
          because he has no horse? It's the fear

     gone — this one behind a table
                       where he displays objects
                  for conjuring tricks.

If any of this piques your interest, read George himself on the creation of Genève here. 

George himself


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