Louise Morey Bowman, Early Canadian Modernist
Rediscovered by Aislinn Hunter, poet and essayist.
Let’s say Virginia Woolf was right when she wrote that part of the poet’s task is “to find the relations between things that seem incompatible yet have a mysterious affinity, to absorb every experience that comes your way fearlessly.” Reading the Canadian poet, Louise Morey Bowman, it is the word “fearlessly” that stands out. This early modernist wrote with a sense of abandon, an exuberance, a friendly relationship with the exclamation mark. She published three books of poetry that displayed a bold experimentation: this earned her criticism from the literary circles of the time but also paved the way for such writers as Gwendolyn MacEwen and Elizabeth Smart. Yet, Bowman has all but vanished from our literary sight. How is it, this essay asks, that we can come so close to losing writers like Bowman so soon after they’ve set down a portrait of their time and place on the page?