Lorna Crozier – Her Mouth to the Lion’s Mouth – Next Week, Her Latest Poetry Collection Arrives

Lorna Crozier’s Latest Poetry Collection Coming Out From Penguin Random House Canada Later This Month


These are the ones who show up at the party, grains of
rapture bagged and tucked up their sleeves, heaven’s
golden mead in flasks in their secret pockets. They’re
everyone’s best nightmare. They sit in the front of the
club, stuff the biggest notes in the G-strings of the
strippers. At the gym they work out beside the bouncer,
lift so much weight they bless him with ambition until he
has to turn his body sideways to walk through doorways
and down the aisles of buses. You see yourself in the
otherworldly shine of their briefcases, in their clever suits
of mirrors. You never catch the colour of their eyes.
Though the clouds bust open, the false ones drive with the
cloth tops down and don’t get wet. They walk on
swimming pools, holding aloft a cocktail the colour of
ichor. They watch over you with the patience of
Styrofoam. What’s your want? they whisper. Only one
word is necessary to call them close—need, need, need.

Lorna Crozier (with permission) from God of Shadows, Penguin Random House Canada, 2018

Oh god! To see you dressed up to score a deal! To see you walk across water (albeit the small water of a swimming pool). To see you: little human (false) god! The one I was for years as a financial analyst and money manager and the ones I walked with. To be gob-smacked by the terrifying simile of the year or years: patience of Styrofoam. Chilling. And the scary word: need, need, need, Sound sister to greed! Oh God, Lorna Crozier you have touched inside a world I know too well.

Here in Canada Crozier needs little introduction. One of our preeminent poets she has been recognized with many accolades including the Governor General’s Award for poetry, the Order of Canada (officer) and most recently, the  2018 George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, claimed to be British Columbia’s most prestigious literary honour.

Inventing the Hawk is the title of one of Lorna Crozier’s earlier books of poetry.  It brings to my mind a way to describe what Crozier does book after after book: she reinvents Lorna Crozier. And one of the ways Crozier has reinvented herself in the past few years is by inventing poem series that create their own momentum and enable her to write fresh poetic fictions again and again: her “Angel of” series, “The Man from” series, her “Soul” series.

And in her new book God of Shadows, her twenty-first full-length poetry collection in forty-two years, she does it again with her “God of” series: prose poems that marry God to the extraordinary ordinary things and states of being that makes up our human world. God embodied into our world! Not set apart! What a trip. God of Noses, God of Sex, God of Arithmetic, God of Contrariness, God of Goodbye, God of the Moon.

Canadian Poet Lorna Crozier. Photo Credit: Angie Abdou

Something Crozier has not needed to reinvent is her wry attention to the world, the way she embraces it in all its detail. This way of her being in the world she so aptly describes in her poem THE LEAST OF THINGS from her 2017 collection What the Soul Doesn’t Want:

My mouth to the lion’s mouth,
my ear to the world’s huge singing.

As these poems from her new collection attest, Crozier keeps her mouth close to the lion’s mouth.  She remains a wry observer of what is happening around her. She is not solipsistic, burying her head in the sand. Her poems do not shy away from incisive social commentary as she shows in False Gods. And in her poem below:


Children no longer know who this god is. For one thing,
he uses chalk as if time does everything but erase. In
abandoned country schools, he prints towers of numbers
on the blackboards. There are no pupils to add them up
and call out the answers though his pockets burn with stars
to give away. His worshippers, in danger of dying out,
recite the timetables like Hail Marys under their breath to
prove their minds are still okay. No matter what they’ve
lost—the names of flowers, the birth dates of their
children—they can do their sums. He wanted his only
commandment to be included on the tablet Moses brought
down from the mountain, but the others, bartering for
space, thought it was only about arithmetic and left it out.
It would have changed the world. It would have made us
kinder. Thou shalt carry the one, he intones to the small
desks in empty classrooms, carry the one.

Lorna Crozier (with permission) from God of Shadows, Penguin Random House Canada, 2018

Yes, in this poem, the social commentary on what our technological age has given us and what it has taken away. But also in this poem I see a bright mind at work. How it leaps. How Crozier turns  the old math commandment, carry the one, and turns it into a punning commentary on God – the one. And now the poem busts open into the impact of God in the world. That discussion. If we carry the one does it make us kinder. I would like to think so but daily events in the world carried out in the name of someone’s One, makes me wonder, sadly.

I am grateful for Crozier’s poetic voice. For this new collection. For the way she invites my ear to the world’s huge singing.