Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Lorna Crozier on why she writes with the door closed

The author of The Wrong Cat answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Lorna Crozier is a poet and the author of the collection The Wrong Cat. (Chris Hancock Donaldson)

Canadian poet Lorna Crozier is a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry for her book What the Soul Doesn't Want. In the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, Lorna opens up about what inspires her, what makes her cringe and why she writes with the door closed.

1. Anthony Bidulka asks, "Have there been moments in your career, early or late, when you doubted yourself as a writer?"

I doubt myself as a writer every minute every day. Whenever I miraculously finish a poem, at least for the time being until I decide it still isn't right, I'm sure it's my last one. 

I'll never write another of any quality again.

2. Frances Itani asks, "Describe a walk that would and could feed your imagination and your writing. In what part of the world would this walk take place?"

I'd walk down a gravel road in rural Saskatchewan. The road would have a slight rise so that it would climb right into the sky. And that sky would be like nowhere else. In it, I'd see at least three weather systems: tall white cumulous building in the west, a shimmering, incomparable clarity overhead, and behind me, purple-grey streaks of rain already falling. 

3. Alan Bradley asks, "Does the act of writing ever have a physical effect on you? If so, describe."

My husband would say that I go deaf because I don't hear anything he's saying when my mind is concentrating on a poem. When the writing's going well, I become lost to everything except what's happening on the page. When it isn't going well, all my muscles are tense and I want to break from my chair and run. 

4. Todd Babiak asks, "When literary prizes rely on audience participation, through social media, do you promote yourself in any way?"

When I was a kid, I couldn't sell tickets even if they were for a good cause. That shyness or inability to be a salesman of anything, has spread into my writing life. I couldn't possibly be part of any prize that depended on self-promotion. The thought of it makes me cringe.

5. Alexi Zentner asks, "What's your worst writing habit?"

I'm noisy because I need to read out loud every word while I'm writing a poem to get the music right, and since I go through several drafts in an hour of writing, I read the same line over and over again. If I didn't have a room of my own with a door that closes, I'd drive everyone around me crazy.

6. Gail Bowen asks, "If you could live in the world created by another writer, what fictional world would you choose and why?"

My choice wouldn't be based on the setting or time period but on the kind of moral universe the writer creates. I'd live in any world fashioned by Shirley Hazzard. Terrible things happen in her fiction but there are always people who respond quietly but forcefully with goodness. And love is possible and necessary, even when the lovers are wounded.

7. Charlotte Gill asks, "What is your kryptonite?"

What is lethal for me is the politics of poetry, the nasty, small-minded schoolyard battles that are all too frequent in the current climate of poetry reviewing and competitions. My husband and I have banned any such discussions from our house. With writing friends we talk about the joys of what we're reading rather than who attacked whom or who won or didn't win a prize. That stuff makes me feel ill.

8. David McGimpsey asks, "If you were to pair your last book with a signature cocktail, what is that cocktail called and what is it made of?"

One day when I was visiting my mom in Swift Current, the handyman who helped her fix things around the house noticed me drinking wine. The next day he came over with a Coke bottle full of an orange liquid. It was homemade wine he'd concocted from carrots, probably one of the worst things I've ever tasted. If it were possible to make a good wine from carrots, that would be what I'd pair my poetry with. It's a pairing not with my last book, but with my most well-known poem from a series called The Sex Lives of Vegetables.