by Tim Bowling
Winner: Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (2012)
Winner: Acorn-Plantos People's Poetry Award (2012)
Book Description"I grew up in a blue-collar town ten minutes down the road from a white-collar town. And I've spent most of my life uncomfortable in both places."
With these opening words, accomplished poet Tim Bowling outlines the central tension that acts as a vital force in his newest book, Tenderman--the dichotomy between the sensitive poetic observer and the tough, working-class subject. Bowling returns again to the shores of his BC hometown that exert such a strong hold on his imagination, but through his focus on the tenderman figure, he also demonstrates wry self-awareness in doing so. The tenderman (a crewman on a salmon packing boat), who represents a fiercely independent everyman, acts as unintentional muse to the collection; its poems are often delivered through dialogues between poet and fisherman, reminiscences of their shared childhoods, or narratives delivered by the tenderman himself.
As always, Bowling's verse is stunning in its haunting portrayal of West Coast imagery, depicting both natural beauty ("the Spanish silhouette/ crouched in warm salt dark") and the grim realities of fishing ("The kicks and slaps of a hold of dying fish--/ hands in an auditorium") with effortless grace.