It all began with an Ottawa Sun article in which reporter Kathleen Harris appeared to question the work ethic of George Bowering during his two-year term as Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate. “Bowering was paid $12,000 plus a $10,000 travel allowance each year to write poems and promote the art of verse. He finished his two-year mandate as poet laureate late last year with 87 lines under his belt,” wrote Harris. She then invited an MP and a tax activist to make the predictable political hay out of that revelation. “It suggests he had a very easy go as the first poet laureate,” said the obliging John Williamson, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Now, Bookninja.com has compiled some letters from the literary community in support of Bowering. The poet’s supporters point out his steady publication of work that falls outside the official poet laureate description (including several titles during his two-year term alone), as well as his work promoting poetry and his busy schedule of appearances, readings, and conferences while in office. “George Bowering unproductive? Never!” reads one letter signed by more than 20 people, including Margaret Atwood, Christian Bök, and Brian Fawcett.
Click here for the original Sun story
Click here for the Bookninja.com collection of Bowering-related letters