Crow Review – Josh Kolm
Cornelia Hoogland fauna on paper
By Josh Kolm
Cornelia Hoogland, an award-winning Canadian poet and academic, recently completed Crow, her sixth book of poetry. It is a collection obsessed with an animal that many regard as a pest but is used by the writer as a connection to aspects of the world that are otherwise out of our reach.
“Crow is my familiar, my totem bird. He’s my signature. He reminds me that I’m on the earth and that I’m embodied because he is embodied,” Hoogland said of the bird. “He’s noisy, curious, visible, interested. He’s one of the few parts of nature that we really have access to because he is so present.”
Over the course of her writing career, Hoogland has worked with numerous small Canadian presses. Her previous work with Windsor-based publisher Black Moss Press, You Are Home, is similarly concerned with nature.
“[Crow] is probably a book that follows You Are Home quite nicely,” Hoogland said of bringing her work back to Black Moss.
In addition to spending time in Haida Gwaii, B.C., a central location in Crow, Hoogland needed to become an expert on how crows have been portrayed by those who came before her.
“I had some wonderful resources for this book. A friend did a very meticulous research about crows as they appear in myth,” Hooglan said. “I followed up on them and used the images— not explicitly, but very subtly— in this book.”
Much of Hoogland’s recent work has been concerned with taking well-known archetypes, such as the Red Riding Hood fable in Woods Wolf Girl, and putting them in situations that give them different implications and create new layers of meaning. Images of crows and ravens typically invoke representations of death and evil, but Hoogland said Crow is far from a sad book.
“There are poems about death in here, crows have certainly been thought of as omens of death,” Hoogland said regarding the connotations her primary motif brings with it. “But there are birth poems in there, too. So he is just there as I experience the kinds of things that everyone experiences.”
“I also have a couple of poems that consider larger ecological and personal questions. A man at a keyboard ends up with a CD floating through space. So it’s about the whole world and the universe, as well as the small concerns that I as a person have. It can’t be a sad book because the universe is far bigger than my sadness.”
Cornelia Hoogland’s Crow is available now at local bookstores through Black Moss Press.