In 2018, as the author/editor of twenty-five books, Lorna Crozier was named as the 25th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for B.C. literature. In 2013 she had received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. [See press release below]. As well, Crozier has won both the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction B.C. Book Prize for Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir (in 2010) as well as the Dorothy Livesay Poetry B.C. Book Prize for What the Living Won't Let Go (in 2000). She has also won two Pat Lowther Awards for best collection of poetry by a Canadian woman, a Governor General's Award for Inventing the Hawk (1992) and a Canadian Authors Association Award. In 2009 she was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada.

Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1948. She had to overcome family poverty and alcoholism, as described in her collection of narratives and prose poems, Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir. 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. For more than four decades Crozier has made herself widely 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 (Turnstone, 1979) and Humans and Other Beasts (Turnstone, 1980).

Crozer 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.

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 both taught for many years. They have co-edited a non-fiction anthology Addicted: Notes From the Belly of the Beast (Greystone, 2002). For The Wrong Cat (M&S 2016), Crozier received both the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Raymond Souster award for best book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member. It was described as 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.

Her illustrated board books for infants include Lots of Kisses (Orca) and So Many Babies (Orca). In 2015, Crozier produced an unlikely bestseller that mixed poetry and photography to heighten environmental awareness, The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea (Greystone), with photography by Ian McAllister.

[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
What the Soul Doesn't Want (Free Hand 2017) $16.95 978-1-988298-12-2
God of Shadows (Penguin Random House 2018) $25 9780771073137

Also:

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

[BCBW 2018]

Lorna Crozier wins 25th George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award

One of the first public events for Christina de Castell, new chief librarian of the Vancouver Public Library, was to unveil a plaque of B.C. marble to be added to the VPL's Woodcock Walk of Fame for Lorna Crozier (right), a beloved poet and writing instructor who is this year's recipient of the 25th George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more than four decades Crozier has made herself widely known across the country as a poet and played a significant role in the mentoring of younger writers. In 1991, she and her life partner, Patrick Lane, moved to Victoria so she could teach at the University of Victoria's Department of Writing.

In her Woodcock acceptance speech, Crozier said:

"It doesn't seem that many years ago that I was the youngest poet on the stage at literary festivals, now I am the oldest. Seventy seems a good time to look back and evaluate how I've spent, some might say how I've wasted, my life. I can honestly claim that since my mid-twenties, a day hasn't gone by when I haven't been in the company of poetry. It helps that my husband of 40 years is also a poet, many say Canada's finest, but I can't blame him for my obsession. I was on this esoteric path before we met, and in fact, it was poetry that introduced us. But I have to wonder, with some amusement, why I chose an art form that most people find arcane, possibly elitist.
"I come, after all, from a family of very ordinary, hard-working Saskatchewan people. My mother cleaned houses and sold tickets at the swimming pool. My father drove a back-hoe and was laid off during the winter when the ground froze. When that happened, my parents worried about paying the rent. Our house had only three books, a bible, one volume of a set of The Book of Knowledge and a Zane Gray novel the mice had chewed. That library expanded after I'd left home and started getting published.

"The pride of place in my parents' living room was a two-tiered, maple coffee table. On the bottom shelf my mother accumulated Patrick's and my books that we dutifully sent to her. On the top of the same table, crouched a big plastic lobster my father had brought back from a visit to my brother who was a helicopter search and rescue pilot in PEI. Neither of my parents would eat the crustaceans when they were on the island, but my father couldn't get over the fact that Maritimers, including his son and grandkids, devoured them with gusto. The lobster stretched out in its place of honour above our books until my father died and my mom got rid of it. Our books stayed...

"Why have I spent five decades wrestling with this demanding, dangerous angel? At seventy, still smitten, I have to say that it's also poetry's uncanniness that attracts me. It knows things before I do-the breakdown of my first marriage for instance was forecast in my early poems...
"My poems are smarter than I am, more inventive, badder, more daring, wittier, less needy. Not many poets can live up to the integrity you find in their work.";

Lorna Crozier will be appearing at the Whistler Writers Festival in October. Crozier has written and edited twenty-five books while receiving a Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence; a Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir (2010) and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for What the Living Won't Let Go (2000); plus two Pat Lowther Awards for best collection of poetry by a Canadian woman; a Governor General's Award for Inventing the Hawk (1992) and a Canadian Authors Association Award. Administered by Pacific BookWorld News Society, the $5,000 Woodcock Award is co-supported by Yosef Wosk, The Writers Trust of Canada, The City of Vancouver and VPL.

[BCBW 2018]

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