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Before the First Word

The Poetry of Lorna Crozier

By Lorna Crozier
Edited by Catherine Hunter
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889204898, 80 pages, September 2005
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587117, 80 pages, September 2005


What the Snake Brings to the World by Lorna Crozier

Without the snake

there'd be no letter S

No forked tongue and toil,

no pain and no sin. No wonder

the snake's without shoulders.

What could bear such a weight!

The snake's responsible for everything

that slides and hisses, that moves

without feet or legs. The wind for example.

The sea in its long sweeps to shore and out again.

The snake has done some good, then.

Even sin to the ordinary man

brings its pleasures. And without

the letter S traced belly-wise

outside the gates of Eden

we'd have to live

with the singular of everything:

sparrow, ear, heartbeat,

mercy, truth.

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier, edited and with an introduction by Catherine Hunter

Foreword | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction | Catherine Hunter


Poem about Nothing

This Is a Love Poem without Restraint

The Child Who Walks Backwards



Fear of Snakes

Quitting Smoking

The Goldberg Variations

Home Town

Male Thrust

Mother and I, Walking

How to Stop Missing Your Friend Who Died

On the Seventh Day

Living Day by Day

Angel of Bees

Canada Day Parade

The Dark Ages of the Sea

The Red Onion in Skagway, Alberta

The Wild Boys

The Garden at Night

Going Back


The Kind of Woman

Not the Music

Mrs. Bentley

Watching My Lover

What You Remember Remains

A Kind of Love


The Origin of the Species

What the Snake Brings to the World

Original Sin: 1. The First Woman

Original Sin: 2. The Fall of Eve

The Sacrifice of Isaac

Afterword: See How Many Ends This Stick Has | Lorna Crozier



Lorna Crozier’s radical imagination, and the finely tuned emotional intelligence that is revealed in the clarity of her poetry, have made her one of Canada’s most popular poets. Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier is a collection of thirty-five of her best poems, selected and introduced by Catherine Hunter, and includes an afterword by Crozier herself. Representing her work from 1985 to 2002, the collection reveals the wide range of Lorna Crozier’s voice in its most lyrical, contemplative, ironic, and witty moments. Hunter’s introduction discusses the poet’s major themes, with particular attention to her feminist approach to biblical myth and her fascination with absence and silence as sites for imaginative revision. Crozier’s afterword, “See How Many Ends This Stick Has: A Reflection on Poetry,” is a lyrical meditation that provides an inspirational glimpse into the philosophy of a writer who prizes the intensity of awareness that poetry demands, and is tantalized by what predates speaking and all that cant be named. An engaging volume that will appeal to undergraduate students as well as general readers of poetry.

Lorna Crozier’s work has won many awards, including the Governor Generals Award in 1992 (for Inventing the Hawk), the first prize for poetry in the CBC Literary Competition, the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry in 1992, a National Magazine Award in 1995, and two Pat Lowther Memorial Awards (1993 and 1996) for the best book of poetry by a Canadian woman. She has published fourteen books of poetry, most recently, Whetstone. Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, she now lives in British Columbia, where she is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Victoria.


``Before the First Word is a part of a new series of texts from Wilfrid Laurier University Press that strive to bring Canadian poets to a larger audience. Without pretence and with an eye to producing the effect of improvisation, these collections come selected and introduced by a critic with an afterword from the poet represented. This project is one of the most exciting, cooperative, communal and familial endeavours that I have seen coming out of the poetry establishment in the past few years and all of my praise goes out to Wilfrid Laurier Press for their efforts. ''

- Jason Ranon Uri Rotstein, PoetryReviews, May 19, 2007

``There's a lot of different material pulled together between two covers. It should give readers a good bird's-eye view of a writer's life and work. I think it's a great idea. ''

- Lorna Crozier about the Laurier Poetry series,

``In a sense, it is a Best of Lorna Crozier. ... These editions stand out by providing a thorough introduction to the work (written here by another poet) and an afterword by the poet herself. The intention is good, and this book itself is admirable. ... Hunter's selections are excellent, ranging from Crozier's amusing and racy vegetable poems through her moving poems about love and family and on to her recent revisions of Old Testament stories. ... I particularly like Crozier's own closing essay, a valuable discussion of the mysteries and gaps that mark the poet's trade. ...Crozier honours the simple but profound task of attention that both writing and reading poetry demands, and is unafraid to call it a kind of `devotion. ' The Erica Grimm Vance painting on the cover, Growing Fiery Wings, is an entirely appropriate choice for this volume. It features a woman both earthbound and ethereal, struggling to perform some feat that will undoubtedly be powerful. ''

- Sue Sorensen, Prairie Fire

``The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming. ''

- Paul Milton, Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007