Books·Canadian

Through the Garden

Lorna Crozier's Through the Garden is a candid, clear-eyed portrait of a long partnership and an acknowledgement, a tribute and a gift.

Lorna Crozier

When Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane met at a poetry workshop in 1976, they had no idea that they would go on to write more than forty books between them, balancing their careers with their devotion to each other, and to their beloved cats, for decades. Then, in January 2017, their life together changed unexpectedly when Patrick became seriously ill. Despite tests and the opinions of many specialists, doctors remained baffled. There was no diagnosis and no effective treatment plan. The illness devastated them both.

During this time, Lorna turned to her writing as a way of making sense of her grief and for consolation. She revisited her poems, tracing her own path as a poet along with the evolution of her relationship with Patrick. The result is an intimate and intensely moving memoir about the difficulties and joys of creating a life with someone and the risks and immense rewards of partnership. At once a spirited account of the past and a poignant reckoning with the present, it is, above all, an extraordinary and unforgettable love story.

Told with unflinching honesty and fierce tenderness, Through the Garden is a candid, clear-eyed portrait of a long partnership and an acknowledgement, a tribute and a gift. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Through the Garden was on the shortlist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Lorna Crozier is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning poet who has written more than 15 books. Her poetry collections include The House the Spirit BuildsGod of Shadows and What the Soul Doesn't Want.

Why Lorna Crozier wrote Through the Garden

"What I loved doing was going back to our past and describing how we met each other. The early tempestuous years of our relationship were fun to write. 

It took me out of the present, where every day was watching him diminish because of an illness that never got diagnosed.- Lorna Crozier

"It was fun to go there, in a way. It took me out of the present, where every day was watching him diminish because of an illness that never got diagnosed. I was watching him try to be so brave in the face of it. By going back and writing the origins of our story — the beginning of our 40 years together — it was a relief from that and from the constant worry and fear that he wasn't going to make it." 

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

From the book

Directly across the road from our driveway is Coles Bay park. Close to nine acres, it's a stand of trees growing on two sides of a deep ravine that drops about twenty feet to the ocean. The trees are second- or third-growth cedars and firs and Garry oak along with younger maples, all of them shrouded in English ivy, an invasive plant some idiot settler brought from the Old Country a cen­tury ago and let loose in the wild. Carpeting most of the forest floor, it's impossible to eradicate, but before he fell ill, Patrick headed out with secateurs twice a week to cut through the vines and free the trees from choking. I started to go with him. It was three years of hard, dirty work; when we hacked through a stem then yanked at the ivy that towered above, all kinds of debris— insects, dust, chunks of bark, twigs, needles, and sticky sap — fell on our heads. Some of the vines were as thick as a linebacker's thigh and Patrick had to use a bow saw to slice through their grip. I found it difficult to keep my footing. Logs I thought would hold me turned out to be punky and collapsed with my weight. Countless times I slammed onto my bum into a well of deep, wet foliage and had to grab a root to pull myself upright. We both laughed at my clumsiness. This was one way to learn the secrets of trees.


Excerpted from Through the Garden by Lorna Crozier. Copyright © 2020 Lorna Crozier. Published by McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Interviews with Lorna Crozier

Lorna Crozier joins Peter Gzowski to talk about her new collection of poems, and her move from the prairie to the B.C. coast.
The poet Lorna Crozier on her latest poetry collection, long-time love, and why she likes paying tribute to the overlooked.

Other books by Lorna Crozier

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