George McWhirter | Anachronicles | Gazelle Books


George McWhirter

Author: George McWhirter | ISBN: 1553800540 : 9781553800545 | Format: Paperback | Size: 155 x 230mm | Pages: 100 | Weight: .202 Kg. | Published: Ronsdale Press – March 2008 | Availability: In Print | Subjects: Poetry texts & anthologies

This is a collection of unusually rich poems

that are both proto- and post-colonial. The title itself — melding the two words “anachronism” and “chronicle” — points to how the poems explore events and exchanges in one place from two points in time. The place itself is La Audiencia Beach in Mexico. Instead of portraying history only from the present looking backwards, McWhirter also has the past looking forward to foresee and comment on what is to happen as a result of the early exploration. Here, Hernán Cortés and his Lieutenant-Conqueror of Colima, Sandoval, appraise the antics of Bo Derek and other stars as they make the movie 10 — on the same beach where four hundred years earlier their crews built three brigantines to explore what is now called the Sea of Cortez. The verse-logs then follow explorer Don Caamaño and his successors up the Pacific Coast to where John McKay (aka Sean McKoy), an Irishman, was left to recuperate from a sickness among the Nootka/Nuu-chah-nulth on Vancouver Island. The final poem, “Hops,” retells the Irish legend of the goddess Liadan and the poet Cuirithir, whose voices travel to one another from Canada and Ireland. The dialogue travels from the end of the last millennium to the 1950s, highlighting their present-day divided Christian-pagan roles as mortal man and woman in holy orders.

George McWhirter

was born in Belfast on September 26, 1939, and growing up, he spent his winters in a brick kitchen house on the Shankill Road and his summers at an asbestos bungalow in Carnalea on the shores of the Belfast Lough. He attended the Belfast Boy’s Model School (1947-1950), Grosvenor High School (1950-1957) and received his BA & DipEd from Queen’s University Belfast (1957-62), where he was a classmate of the poets, Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane, and the Irish literary critic, Robert Dunbar. The Mourne Mountains in South Down— where he lived with his wife, Angela, in Annalong and taught school at Kilkeel Secondary (1962-1964)— was his source for the mythical kingdom of Sarne in Bodyworks. In 1964 he moved to North Down and Bangor Grammar for a year. His inspiration for Catalan Poems came when he was an EFL instructor at the University of Barcelona’s Escuela de Idiomas (1965-1966). He came to Canada in 1966 and lived in a cabin at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island, teaching at Alberni District Secondary School. Since 1968, he has been in Vancouver, where he received an M.A. from UBC in 1970.

For thirty-five years, he stayed on at UBC, becoming a Full Professor in 1982 and Head of the UBC Creative Writing Department from 1983 until 1993. He was Advisory Editor for PRISM international magazine from 1977 until 2005, and prior to that Managing Editor (1968-1969), Poetry Editor (1970-1976), then Co-Editor (1976-77). In 1975, he went to Mexico to work with José Emilio Pacheco on translations of his work, living in the town of Cuautla, Morelos, and travelling up to Mexico City to do so. Four of his books are set in H. Cuautla, Morelos, the garrison town for Emiliano Zapata, where the “H” stands for “heroic.” In 1974 and 1975 he edited Words from the Inside (a Canadian Prison Arts magazine) and was involved with Vancouver Pacific Swim Club (now the Vancouver Pacific Dolphins) for nine years, acting as Treasurer for 1992-93. He is also an honorary member of CIVA (Canada-India Village Aid).


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