Bowering, Marilyn

Marilyn Bowering, poet, novelist, playwright (b at Winnipeg, Man 13 Apr 1949). Marilyn Bowering was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Victoria, BC. She was educated at the University of Victoria, where she earned an MA in English. Bowering has lived in Europe, Great Britain and the United States but has always come back to her childhood home of Vancouver Island. She has taught creative writing and served as writer in residence at institutions across Canada, including Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Alberta. Marilyn Bowering is an accomplished poet, novelist and playwright.

Marilyn Bowering's poems often explore dreams and external reality and the struggle to maintain a balance between these two worlds. Her first collection, The Liberation of Newfoundland (1973), has been followed by many others, including The Sunday Before Winter: New and Selected Poems (1984) and Human Bodies: New and Selected Poems 1987-1999. Bowering's 1996 collection, Autobiography, won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for poetry. Poems from her 2003 volume, The Alchemy of Happiness, and earlier collections were featured in a 2004 exhibition with Spanish artist Mercedes Carbonell, who produced the cover art for many of Bowering's volumes of poetry. The cover art for her 2007 collection, Green, was created by fellow BC poet P.K. PAGE.

Marilyn Bowering's interest in history and historical testimony is reflected in Grandfather Was a Soldier (1987), a poetic sequence about the Canadian army in France and Belgium during World War I, and Anyone Can See I Love You (1987), a book of poems spoken through the persona of Marilyn Monroe. Both of these historical long poems were dramatized for radio, as were Laika and Folchakov: A Journey in Time and Space and A Cold Departure: the Liaison of George Sand and Frederic Chopin. Bowering's works for the stage include Temple for the Stars, Anyone Can See I Love You and Hajimari-No-Hajimari: Four Myths of the Pacific Rim.

Marilyn Bowering's first novel, To All Appearances a Lady (1989), concerns a Chinese-Canadian family on the West Coast, a tale of domestic discord placed within a wider context of 19th-century social struggle. Bowering won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was short-listed for Britain's Prestigious Orange Prize for Visible Worlds (1997). She explores human and animal psychology and perspective in her inventive fantasy, Cat Pilgrimage (2004). Bowering's disturbing but ultimately redemptive novel What It Takes To Be Human (2006) takes place in the 1940s at the Colquitz Centre for the Criminally Insane, on Victoria Island.