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Preface to Sticks and Stones

by George Bowering

The words will become a world, sustaining the occasion of thought—which is to think of things, in that complex of all that had been thought, might be, and felt equally. This is not, after all, to find an escape from what problems may exist in all senses. Feeling alone prevents it, and the impact of distortions, which make of common reality an immense tension of impossibility, must be first felt to then be dealt with.

But in the care with words, a world occurs, made possible by that care. For example, Williams writes, "If the language is distorted crime flourishes. It is well that in the unobstructed arts (because they can at favorable times escape the perversions which flourish elsewhere) a means is at least presented to the mind where a man can go on living."

Bowering begins to live at this point, finding a world opening to his sense of it. How can it be otherwise? And he has it:

so that it is the walking of the voice


opening of doors and the walking
on floors
and the closing of doors

the swinging of arms

and the talking of the voice . . .

George Bowering, Sticks and Stones (Vancouver: Tishbooks, 1963).


All senses come to their occasion in this use of them. And things are not hostile, let us believe it. If the means stay true to such occasion, all sense may then focus:

Thinking what?
happens in the
swing from one
step to the touch
of the next—

or otherwise, says "The older we got / the shorter the climb . . ." If one is to live, and what else would we have him do, then it must perhaps be that he take in hand all that first comes to hand, the sight, for example:

In the white moving
over the sky
there is no future shape
or any moment before . . .

Wise enough to know better, and to want to, beginning at the beginning, where taste, sight, air, a night's walk, or a morning, love found in another, all the perpetual occasions begin to take root—this seems wise enough.


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