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Poetry Canadian

Whetstone

by (author) Lorna Crozier

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2005
Category
Canadian, Women Authors, General
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780771024672
    Publish Date
    Mar 2005
    List Price
    $17.99

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Description

National-award-winning poet Lorna Crozier’s new collection of poems are peopled by the seasons and their elements, her beloved prairies, sorrow, joy, and the dead. Central to their themes are revisitations of family and marriage, and the land-death that is drought. Universal, deeply moving, crowded with breathtaking imagery, these are darkly resonant poems of middle age: alert to the beauty in loss, cherishing the humanity that is whetted on that stone. This is Lorna Crozier, one of Canada’s most highly celebrated poets, at the top of her form.

About the author

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

Excerpt: Whetstone (by (author) Lorna Crozier)

BLIZZARD

Walking into wind, I lean into my mother's muskrat coat;
around the cuffs her wristbones have worn away the fur.

If we stood still we'd disappear. There's no up or down,
no houses with their windows lit. The only noise is wind

and what's inside us. When we get home my father
will be there or not. No one ever looks for us.

I could lie down and stay right here where snow is all
that happens, and silence isn't loneliness just cold

not talking. My mother tugs at me and won't let go.
Then stops to find her bearings. In our hoods of stars

we don't know if anyone will understand
the tongue we speak, so far we are from home.

A Word About the Poem By Lorna Crozier
Blizzards, at least the kind we have on the prairies, can be terrifying events, especially if you are caught in one on the highway, but I love walking in them. Everything else gets shut out. You can see almost nothing in front of you or on either side, just a shifting white that falls and falls until the hood of your jacket, your shoulders, even your eyebrows and lashes are feathered with snow. There is no more enclosed, magical space than what a blizzard can take you into.

I was thinking about my mother, and how our relationships with our mothers are the most primal relationships we have. We started out alone with our mothers, in the womb, and we got to know them inside them, internally. We grew our bones and our hearts inside our mothers. I was thinking of how that kind of intense closeness keeps going through your life, and I thought of the metaphoric surround of a blizzard.

When my mother and I walked home in a blizzard when I was a child, we were the only two people in the whole world. It was as if we had fallen into one of those glass snow globes, and all we had was each other, the snow, time collapsing on itself, and the private silent language of mother and child making their way back home.

 How the Poem Works By Jan Zwicky
Things to notice about the poem:

1. The first line, the first three words: the rhythm is trochaic: Walking into wind. The emphasis, combined with the alliteration on the smooth consonant “w,” enacts the steady effortful push of trying to make headway. (The rest of the lines are predominantly iambic.)

2. The stanza break after the fourth line: the grammar gives the line great internal unity - we could put a full stop after "wind" and the sentence would make sense. So, when instead of a full stop we get the lift into emptiness of an unpunctuated stanza break, the effect is of momentary vertigo - which is then articulated in the opening words of the third stanza: there are only two sources of noise in this universe, the exterior wind and the interior clamour. Clamour about what? - And the moment we ask this question, the father appears. In the sixth line, immediately following, the phrase "will be there or not" is one of the least heavily accented in the poem, the closest to prose we get. Here is the hard truth, spoken as plainly as possible: the father is unpredictable, and he doesn't care. "No one ever looks for us."

3. Notice that the speaker never says she's in pain. She simply sets the observation of the interior clamour, of the fact that no one ever looks for her or her mother, beside the seduction of giving up, of lying down in the snow and silence and going no further. But the mother won't let her. And in accepting that gesture, the speaker acknowledges an alliance - that in the pain and confusion, the white-out of their domestic life, the mother and child are known to one another. They don't speak, they just keep going - and this one gesture, of keeping going, is tantamount to a world of communication, the only thing that can be said.

Editorial Reviews

“Breathtakingly down-to-earth and reassuringly lyrical, new poems by Lorna Crozier are always a reason for rejoicing.”
Globe and Mail

“[She has the] ability to create poems in which almost impossibly delicate, sharply focused imagery evokes emotional vastness.”
Vancouver Sun

“Crozier’s fans have come to expect graceful clarity, sly humour, a strong affinity for the animal world and a subversive feminist tilt to the mirror she holds up to human affairs. She continues to provide these things.…”
Books in Canada

Other titles by Lorna Crozier