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Poetry General

House the Spirit Builds

by (author) Lorna Crozier

by (photographer) Peter Coffman & Diane Laundy

introduction by Rena Upitis

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
General, Regional, Plants & Animals
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Renowned poet Lorna Crozier offers a masterful collection of poems inspired by Diane Laundy and Peter Coffman’s photographs taken in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere in Southwestern Ontario. Beginning in this setting, The House the Spirit Builds extends to include any region, any place that ignites the human mind and heart.

Something astonishing happens when the poems and photos sit side by side and speak to one another in a language that is timeless, lucid and precise: they bring us to a wisdom that might mitigate the damage we do to others and the natural world.

While acknowledging the loss and suffering that infuse our days, the poems and photographs invite us to expand our sense of wonder, our sense that all things are connected, no matter where we live.

An image of a slice of light falling across a tablecloth, a black beetle on a leaf: these poems speak of moments “when the dragonfly lands and grips the skin / on the back of your hand” or “rain stops falling / but / hangs around / like the shape of lust / in bedsheets.” The impressions and expressions vary, but remind us that if we pay attention, even the smallest things can bring us joy and remind us we are not alone in our brief sojourn on this earth.

About the authors

Lorna Crozier, one of Canada's most celebrated poets, has read from her work on every continent. She has received numerous awards, including the Governor General's Award, for her fifteen books of poetry, which include The Blue Hour of the Day: Selected Poems; Whetstone; Apocrypha of Light; What the Living Won't Let Go; A Saving Grace; Everything Arrives at the Light; Inventing the Hawk; Angels of Flesh, Angels of Silence; and The Garden Going On Without Us. She has also edited several anthologies, among them Desire in Seven Voices and, with Patrick Lane, Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast. She lives in Saanich, BC.

Lorna Crozier's profile page

Peter Coffman’s photography has appeared in galleries in Canada and internationally, and in books and periodicals. He is the author and photographer of Camino(Wintergreen Studios Press, 2017) and photographer of Exploring the Capital (Figure 1, 2017). He lives in Ottawa, ON.

Peter Coffman's profile page

Diane Laundy has been a photographer for over eighteen years. Her work has been exhibited in Kingston, Halifax and Almonte and is held in both public and private collections. She lives in Ottawa, ON.

Diane Laundy's profile page

Rena Upitis is the founding president of Wintergreen Studios, a retreat located in the Frontenac Arch where much of the photography in The House the Spirit Builds was done. She is living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during 2018–2019 and lives permanently in Yarker, ON.

Rena Upitis' profile page


  • Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Editorial Reviews

The House the Spirit Builds offers gorgeous synchronicity: the magic of one special place (Wintergreen), the grace of two sublime photographers (Peter Coffman and Diane Laundy), and the conjuring genius of a supremely gifted poet (Lorna Crozier). Much bigger than it looks, this is a book to savor—over and over again.”

Lawrence Scanlan, author of A Year of Living Generously

“With its 'dabs of red' and 'ragged scraps of joy,' this is a book existing in William Blake’s 'minutely organized Particulars.' This book does what good prayer does by bringing attention to 'what goodness / has survived out there and where / it’s hidden.' This book helps us find goodness all around us!” —Jami Macarty for the Maynard’s Facebook page, column “Short-form Shout Out,” October 8, 2019


The Maynard

“The world might not need poetry, but the earth does—to substantiate it lyrically and redeem it from
its current invisibility. By doing just that, these poems—in tandem with these photographs—constitute a worthy and beautiful tribute to Wintergreen, a place where the earth truly is seen, heard, felt, and protected. In the end, Lorna Crozier reminds us that living and creating well means following the example of the star-like ground flowers that choose ‘over heaven / this common patch of earth.’”

Steven Heighton, author of Afterlands

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