Peter Trower 2002
In 2002, Peter Trower received the eighth George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Literary Career in British Columbia.
Peter Trower was born at St. Leonard’s-on-Sea, England, on August 25, 1930. He immigrated to British Columbia at age ten, following the death of his test-pilot father in a plane crash. He arrived on an evacuee ship with his mother and brother to stay with an aunt on Nelson Street in the West End of Vancouver.
His mother married a West Coast pulp mill superintendent who drowned soon after. Trower quit school for financial reasons to work as a logger for twenty-two years. He has also worked as a surveyor, smelter worker, pulp-mill hand, shakecutter and baker. He says he began writing seriously in late 1950s after an abortive fling at professional cartooning.
As a writer, he fraternized with John Newlove at the Alcazar Hotel in the Sixties “and forced bad poetry upon him, some of which he was charitable enough to read.” There he also met poets Milton Acorn and Al Purdy, both influences and comrades. Since 1971, he has published more than a dozen books of poetry and contributed to numerous issues of Raincoast Chronicles and Vancouver Magazine. Among his supportive early influences were editor Mac Parry of Vancouver magazine, critic George Woodcock, journalist Don Stainsby, UBC professor Warren Tallman and publisher Howard White.
After publishing his first collection of poems in 1969, he quit logging and went to work for Raincoast Chronicles as an Associate Editor in 1971. Poetry collections such as Moving Through Mystery, Between the Sky and the Splinters, The Alders and Others and Ragged Horizons have expressed his awe and resentment at the magisterial and dangerous power of nature. The Judas Hills is his third novel on the West Coast logging life, after Grogan’s Cafe and Dead Man’s Ticket.
Trower lives in Gibsons, B.C. on the Sunshine Coast. A Ship Called Destiny reflects his love and admiration for his partner Yvonne Klan of North Vancouver. Mike Poole made an effective documentary about Trower as a logger/poet called Between the Sky and the Splinters (1976), filmed at Jackson Bay. Alan Twigg and Tom Shandel made a CBC documentary about Trower that aired in 1985; Peter Trower: The Men There Were Then. Trower released a music & poetry CD, Sidewalks and Sidehills, in 2003, and a collected works volume of his poetry in 2004.
Moving Through the Mystery – Talonbooks – 1969
Between Sky and Splinters – Harbour – 1974
The Alders and Others – Harbour – 1976
Ragged Horizons – McClelland & Stewart – 1978
Bush Poems – Harbour – 1978
Goose quill Snags – Harbour – 1982
The Slidingback Hills – Oberon – 1986
Unmarked Doorways – Harbour – 1989
Where Roads Lead – Reference West – 1994
Hitting the Bricks – Ekstasis – 1997
Chainsaws in the Cathedral – Ekstasis – 1999
A Ship Called Destiny – Ekstasis – 2000
The Judas Hills – Harbour – 2000
Dead Man’s Ticket – Harbour – 1996
Grogan’s Cafe – Harbour – 1993