Bowering, Baseball & BurlesqueWednesday, November 08, 2017
My friend architect Abraham Rogatnick died 28 August 2009. Perhaps a month beofore he died (Rogatnick had decided to abandon further treatment of his prostate cancer) he held court in his home on West 10th Avenue.
Poet George Bowering, a friend of his lived across the street. Noted Vancouver architect, Bruno Freschi also a friend of Rogatnick had been discussing and idea on how to keep the Vancouver Art Gallery where it is. Both men were there. For reasons I have forgotten I was also there with my granddaughter Rebecca Stewart who was 12 at the time.
We were sitting on one end of the living room and Rogatnick was slouched on a divan wearing an English smoking jacket like Noel Coward might have worn.
The conversation was pleasant, happy even though we all knew that the man was not going to live long. Somehow the conversation was steered by George Bowering, the first Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate (beginning in 2002) into questioning who was the first in England. Rogatnick kept telling Bowering he was wrong on the name.
We fetched an Encyclopaedia Britannica and with a loud little laugh Rogatnick verified it had been John Dryden from 1631 to1700.
While most of the conversation has slipped from my memory I relish in the thought that someday when I am long gone, my Rebecca will remember that occasion with wonder.
The relationship with the Canadian Poet Laureate and my granddaughter did not end there. In December 2012 I was to go to a burlesque show at the Russian Centre on 4th Avenue that featured the terrific live band, the Blood Alley Quartet that had a lovely singer (she could really belt it out), called GoldieMonroe who was also a burlesque performer.
I decided to invite Bowering and Rebecca. Both accepted.
Bowering is an exceptional writer and poet but he lacks (very pleasant that is) the stratospheric and snooty attitude of many of his kind. He is ready to smile, he is accessible and you would never suspect how much he knows and how much he reads, and, (very important) how much he writes.
Not only all that, he is obsessed with baseball and in particular with the Mexican Baseball League. His fave team (perhaps it is the name) are the Xalapa Chileros.
The three of us had a great time. Because of my RHIP (rank has its privileges) we watched it all from back stage.
Again I can only wonder how my Rebecca will someday brag about all this!
Today, November 8, 2017 I visited Bowering. We had a long conversation that was all over the map. We have a little project going which will see the light of day in a week.