Poet and professor emeritus Lorna Crozier

Poet, photographer collaborate on nature title

A matchmaker of sorts earns kudos for the latest book of poetry from UVic Professor Emeritus Lorna Crozier

A matchmaker of sorts earns kudos for the latest book of poetry from UVic Professor Emeritus Lorna Crozier.

The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea features a collection of photos and poems from photographer Ian McAllister and Governor General’s Award-winning poet Crozier.

“I’ve never done a collaboration in book form before,” said Crozier. “Other artists have been in touch with me over the years, composers and painters and a choreographer. They’ve set my poems to those various other art forms.”

“It’s a more hands-on collaboration for me and something I’m just so so thrilled about because I’m a big fan of Ian’s and I’m certainly a big fan of the natural world.”

The poetry and imagery combination seemed a laughable concept for two very busy artists when it was suggested, off-hand, by an online editor Kim Gray (Toque & Canoe) who commissioned Crozier to head into the Great Bear Rainforest. “She said, ‘I bet you could do a book together’ and I thought how naive and sweet is she,” Crozier said with a laugh.

They met, and were comfortable. “He said  ‘why don’t I send you some photographs and we’ll see what happens.’”

When McAllister started sending her the images, suddenly poems started to announce themselves.

“I was extremely moved by the place so things started to happen and poems started to come,” Crozier said.

While it sounds a simple process, the back and forth of images and poems was complex. The poet sought to add a perspective without attempting to define McAllister’s artistry.

“My challenge, and where my fear came from when I started, was his photos don’t need any words. They don’t need captions. They don’t need explanations, so I had to write something that would befriend the photograph but not explain it,” Crozier said.

Once complete, they submitted to three publishers and had three acceptances within two days. Both had worked with Greystone in the past and knew top-notch design was available. Designer Peter Cocking was up for the task.

“I’m delighted with it. The poems and photos would have been wasted if they hadn’t been designed in this way,” Crozier said. “He respected the two art forms and brought them together in a seamless fashion.”

Featuring 32 full-size photographs and original poems, The Wild in You captures the raw emotion of B.C.’s coastline, including its most rarely seen or endangered creatures. From sea wolves to spirit bears to giant anenomes, each stunning image is paired with an imaginative poem exploring what it truly means to be wild.

“To focus just on the natural world, animals, habitat, the ocean and forest and to do that with a partner like Ian has probably been one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved in,” Crozier said. Not a fan of the coffee table book, Crozier loves that the “reasonable size and reasonable price” makes it more accessible.

“That means more people will be able to get it, see it and give it for Christmas presents,” she said. “I expect it to be of interest to more people than merely poetry fans. It’s a small population in the world that reads and a buys poetry books. I think this one, because there are these beautiful pictures, that people will be less threatened by the poetry. And it’s not poetry about fancy dancy things. It’s about bears and sea lions and otters and trees … It’s about the most down to earth stuff that a poet can write about.”

 

The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea (Greystone Books) is available in bookstores including Ivy’s Books.

 

 

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