CROZIER, Lorna (1948- )




Author Tags: Alcohol, Poetry

Something of a rarity, Lorna Crozier has won both the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction B.C. Book Prize (in 2010) for Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir as well as the Dorothy Livesay Poetry B.C. Book Prize (in 2000) for What the Living Won't Let Go. In 2013 she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. [See press release below]

Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1948, Lorna Crozier is a professional poet and writing instructor whose Inventing the Hawk (1992) received the Governor General's Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award and the Pat Lowther Poetry Award. She has also received a second Pat Lowther Award (for best collection of poetry by a Canadian woman) for What the Living Won't Let Go. In 2009 she was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, one of the country’s highest academic honours--not exactly an everyday occurrence for a poet who had to overcome family poverty and alcoholism, as described in her collection of narratives and prose poems, Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir.

For more than four decades Crozier has made herself known across the country, giving readings and getting to know other writers, and has played a significant role in the mentoring of younger writers, co-editing the successful anthology Breathing Fire (Harbour 1995) with Patrick Lane, with whom she began a relationship in 1978. She ceased using her married name Lorna Uher for publication, reclaiming her family's surname Crozier, after meeting Lane and co-publishing No Longer Two People and publishing Humans and Other Beasts. She has been writer-in-residence at numerous colleges and universities, and online with Canada's schools in the Writers In Electronic Residence program. Crozier has also been active as a member of the League of Canadian Poets, as vice-president of the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, and as a committee president of the Saskatchewan Artists' Colony. Her many books of poetry include The Garden Going on Without Us (1985) and Angels of Flesh, Angels of Silence (1988), both of which were nominated for the Governor General's Award for Poetry.

A former high school English teacher, Crozier attended the University of Saskatchewan (BA, 1969) and University of Alberta (MA, 1980). She has credited Sinclair Ross' novel As For Me And My House as the major stimulant for her courage to pursue her own writing, later acknowledging that influence with the publication of A Saving Grace: The Collected Poems of Mrs. Bentley (1996), set in Sinclair Ross' fictional town of Horizon in the 1930s. During the 1980s Crozier worked for two years in Communications for the provincical government. In 1987 she co-edited A Sudden Radiance, an anthology of poetry by Saskatchewan writers. In 1991, she and Patrick Lane moved to Victoria so she could accept a teaching post at the University of Victoria's Creative Writing Department, where they now both teach. They have co-edited a non-fiction anthology Addicted: Notes From the Belly of the Beast (Greystone, 2002). In 2009, she wrote Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir, depicting her hometown of Swift Current and her experience growing up surrounded by poverty and alcoholism.

In Lots of Kisses (Orca Book Publishers $9.95), Crozier creates a lullaby of poetry framed with photographs, into a board book suitable for snuggling with baby.

Her latest book of poetry, The Wrong Cat (M&S $18.95), is vintage Crozier with razor sharp observations and keenly-felt emotions. She relates a man's fear that his wife no longer loves him, a mother's last breath and animals that find humans wanting.

So Many Babies (Orca Publishers $9.95) is an illustrated children's book.

[Above: Lorna Crozier accepts the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in Vancouver.]

BOOKS:

Inside is the Sky (Thistledown Press, 1976). As Lorna Uher.
Crow's Black Joy (NeWest Press, 1978). 0 920316-16-2 As Lorna Uher.
No Longer Two People (1979). With Patrick Lane. As Lorna Uher.
Humans and Other Beasts (Turnstone Press, 1980). As Lorna Uher.
The Weather (Coteau Books / Thunder Creek Publishing Co-operative, 1981).
The Garden Going on Without Us (McClelland and Stewart, 1986). 0771024754 pb
Angels of Flesh, Angels of Silence: Poems (McClelland and Stewart, 1988). 0771024762 pb
Inventing the Hawk (McClelland and Stewart, 1992).
Eyewitness (1993). Chapbook.
Everything Arrives at the Light (McClelland and Stewart, 1995). 0771024797 pb
A Saving Grace: The Collected Poems of Mrs. Bentley (McClelland & Stewart, 1996). 0771024800 cl
The Transparency of Grief: 5 New Poems (Mother Tongue Press, 1996).
What the Living Won't Let Go (McClelland & Stewart, 1999). 0771024819 pb
Apocrypha of Light (McClelland & Stewart, 2002). 0771024835 pb
Bones in their Wings (Hagios Press, 2003).
Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir (Greystone, 2009) $28.95 978-1-55365-343-1
Small Mechanics (M&S, 2011). 978-0-7710-2329 3 $18.99
The Book of Marvels (Greystone, 2012) $19.95 978-1-926812-75-5
Lots of Kisses (Orca Book Publishers 2014) $9.95 9781459807457
The Wrong Cat (McClelland & Stewart 2015) $18.95 978-0-7710-2391-0
So Many Babies (Orca 2015) $9.95 978-1-4598-0831-7 Illustrations by Laura Watson
The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea (Greystone 2015) $24.95 978-1-77164-161-6 Photography by Ian McAllister
More Than Balloons (Orca 2017) $9.95 9781459810280

Also:

Catherine Hunter, editor. Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006).

[BCBW 2016]

Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast (Greystone $22.95)
Info



In her contribution to Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast (Greystone $22.95), Sheri-D Wilson describes how partying fulfilled her desire to avoid the life of the ladylike housewife, to smash stereotypes that a woman couldn’t keep up with a man, and to swim in the exotic seas of Kerouacian reverence. She wanted to be a poet. Wilson did poetry readings in Vancouver for a small fee and an unlimited bar tab, assuming this was the way poets were supposed to act. She figured the more she drank, the more money she was making. Only hours after insulting nearly all the guests at an engagement party with her ‘swish frankness,’ Wilson sucker-punches an unwanted houseguest before abandoning him in a gas station and driving off in a drunken fit. Somewhere along that road from Romantic Artist to Ruthless Thug, she starts to wake up.

Booze and drugs can hit anyone, anywhere—in fact, addiction can be seen as one of the great unifiers of modern life. The world of art and writing, however, is unique in its romanticism of drunken rants and wild jazzy binges.

Edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane, the ten essays in Addicted also expose some of the other private addictions from within Canada’s writing community—compulsive candy eating (Evelyn Lau) to morphine (Stephen Reid) to smoking (Peter Gzowski)—but mostly it’s demon alcohol that’s the problem.

Patterns of abuse, self-destruction and procrastination for these ten writers are exposed, but they’re also intent upon exploring why the condition of ‘creating’ seems to so often lead to drug and alcohol abuse. For starters, the bohemian lifestyle practically requires a little dabbling in pot or wine.
Novelist David Adams Richards considers a childhood where drinking was everywhere. “It lay in the burdocks and pissed its pants, or came at me zigzagging up walkways, answering to the names of forgotten cousins and family members…It blossomed at weddings, got sentimental at baptisms; it carried the weight of a sagged paunch, had a sad grin or light whimsical eyes at forty…So before I ever drank or sang an Irish rebel song or shouted out in joy and rebellion, drink was part of me.”

[BCBW SUMMER 2002]


What the Living Won’t Let Go (M&S)
Speech



This is a wonderful delight, honour and surprise,” said Lorna Crozier, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for What the Living Won’t Let Go (M&S). “I’ve always wanted to kiss John Gray on the mouth!”

After fulfilling her osculatory ambition at the 16th annual B.C. Book Prizes gala, Crozier recalled arriving from Saskatoon nine years ago and noticing how often she was described as a prairie poet. “Margaret Atwood is never called an Ontario poet,” she said.

“When I moved here from Saskatchewan, I came with a big chip on my shoulder because whenever anybody in Victoria would say, ‘Where are you from?’ and I would say ‘Saskatoon’, they’d say, ‘Aren’t you lucky to be here.’”

Linda Watson of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation presented the award. Noting the presence of bill bissett and the absence of Al Purdy, Crozier emphasized the importance of community in the B.C. literary scene.

[BCBW SUMMER 2000]


Notes from the Belly of the Beast (Greystone $22.95)
Review



In her contribution to Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast (Greystone $22.95), Sheri-D Wilson describes how partying fulfilled her desire to avoid the life of the ladylike housewife, to smash stereotypes that a woman couldn’t keep up with a man, and to swim in the exotic seas of Kerouacian reverence. She wanted to be a poet. Wilson did poetry readings in Vancouver for a small fee and an unlimited bar tab, assuming this was the way poets were supposed to act. She figured the more she drank, the more money she was making. Only hours after insulting nearly all the guests at an engagement party with her ‘swish frankness,’ Wilson sucker-punches an unwanted houseguest before abandoning him in a gas station and driving off in a drunken fit. Somewhere along that road from Romantic Artist to Ruthless Thug, she starts to wake up.

Booze and drugs can hit anyone, anywhere—in fact, addiction can be seen as one of the great unifiers of modern life. The world of art and writing, however, is unique in its romanticism of drunken rants and wild jazzy binges.

Edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane, the ten essays in Addicted also expose some of the other private addictions from within Canada’s writing community—compulsive candy eating (Evelyn Lau) to morphine (Stephen Reid) to smoking (Peter Gzowski)—but mostly it’s demon alcohol that’s the problem. Patterns of abuse, self-destruction and procrastination for these ten writers are exposed, but they’re also intent upon exploring why the condition of ‘creating’ seems to so often lead to drug and alcohol abuse. For starters, the bohemian lifestyle practically requires a little dabbling in pot or wine.
Novelist David Adams Richards considers a childhood where drinking was everywhere. “It lay in the burdocks and pissed its pants, or came at me zigzagging up walkways, answering to the names of forgotten cousins and family members…It blossomed at weddings, got sentimental at baptisms; it carried the weight of a sagged paunch, had a sad grin or light whimsical eyes at forty…So before I ever drank or sang an Irish rebel song or shouted out in joy and rebellion, drink was part of me.”

[BCBW SUMMER 2002]



Nominated for Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir
BC Book Prizes (2010)


from BC Book Prizes catalogue
A volume of poignant recollections by one of Canada’s most celebrated poets, Small Beneath the Sky is a tender, unsparing portrait of a family and a place. Lorna Crozier vividly depicts her hometown of Swift Current, with its one main street, two high schools, and three beer parlors — where her father spent most of his evenings. She writes unflinchingly about the grief and shame caused by poverty and alcoholism. At the heart of the book is the author’s fierce love for her mother, Peggy. The narratives of daily life — sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking — are interspersed with prose poems. Lorna Crozier has authored fourteen books of poetry since the launch of first collection, Inside in the Sky, in 1976. Her collection, What the Living Won’t Let Go, won the 2000 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She lives in North Saanich and serves as Chair in the Writing Department at the University of Victoria.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence
Press Release (2013)



Poet Lorna Crozier and children's author Sarah Ellis have been selected as winners of the 10th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Among many other awards and honours, Crozier is a past winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 and was recognized as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009. Her latest book of poetry, The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things, was named as one of The Globe’s Top 100 Books of 2012 and was nominated for this year’s Pat Lowther Award for the best book of poetry by a Canadian woman.

Ellis is one of the most illustrious and admired writers for children in Canada. A librarian, book reviewer, and sought-after lecturer on Canadian children's books, her previous awards and recognition include the 1991 Governor General’s Award for children’s literature, the 2007 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, and this year was one of two Canadian nominees for the international book prize, The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Crozier and Ellis will share the $5,000 prize, which will be presented by Lieutenant Governor Juidith Guichon on May 4 in a ceremony in Victoria.

The award, established in 2003, recognizes BC writers who have made major contributions to the development of literary excellence in the Province.

Winners were selected by a jury comprised of Brian Brett, author and 2012 award recipient; Lynn Copeland, former Dean of Library Services at Simon Fraser University; and Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival.