The only way to properly appreciate Lorna Crozier’s poetry is to sit down and read it. Then read it again. One might say that it’s not what the soul wants but instead what it needs. Okay, that was bad, but writing about books is intimidating. Writing about Lorna Crozier’s books? Even more so. You come at it knowing it will blow you away. There’s no way that it won’t. The hard part isn’t reading the collection but trying to form the sentences that do the verses some form of justice.
An ex-pat of southwest Saskatchewan, Crozier lives and writes from Vancouver Island (much like us editors at Saltern but with multitudes more grace). She is, among many other things, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, and a celebrated poet across the Canadian literary scene.
What the Soul Doesn’t Want, published by Freehand Books, is her latest collection. At fifty-nine pages, this collection holds power and restraint in its brevity. Known for her imagery and wit, Crozier does not disappoint with these poems (not that she ever would). From a seven-page poem titled “Cockroach” to the visceral twelve-line “Poem for the Daughter You Never Had,” there are pieces for new and old lovers of poetry.
Throughout the collection the reader finds breadcrumbs of style from Crozier’s previous work. Couplets remind us of her 2003 collection Bones In Their Wings. She writes poems where wonder permeates through the mundanity of bracelets, collectable spoons, or a pair of red shoes to create little and glorious moments of appreciation for the small. This culminated in the collection “The Book of Marvels” and can be seen throughout this newest book.
This collection explores the process of aging, of dying, of wondering about time, and questions of what has and has not yet been. Images of animals, flowers, the body, and clocks grace the pages and slyly tow the reader into a place of realization—the world is beautiful, lonely, and full of grief. From the poem “Time Studies”: “The watches in the Goodwill are the watches/ of the dead. If you put one to your ear/ you’ll hear the sound of snow falling.”
Crozier uses language that is accessible and satisfying. Her line and stanza breaks are wry and wrought with wit and self-knowing. Throughout, we find a duality of what we want, humour, beauty, love, “a place where the trees are happy,” with what we don’t want, grief, regret, sadness, “a gas station with the lights shot out.” The juxtaposition creates a strange and calming hunger for realization.
What the Soul Doesn’t Want is a collection sure to leave you wanting more—from words, life, and Lorna Crozier. Whether you’re new to poetry or your bookshelves are heaving with verse, you’ll want to give this collection a read. If you don’t feel like reading the entire collection, which we highly recommend you do with all poetry, here’s five poems you have to read:
“When the Bones Get Cold,”
“Poem for the Daughter You Never Had,”
What the Soul Doesn’t Want available for purchase online here, or you can find it on the shelves of your local independent bookstore.