Undersea Angels

Otherworldly images inspire our travelling poet

T&C Eye Candy / Great Bear Sea / Photo by Ian McAllister / Pacific Wild

Editor’s note: One of the coolest things about Toque & Canoe is the collaboration that keeps popping up. Take Governor General Award-winning poet Lorna Crozier’s post on B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest – produced alongside conservation photographer Ian McAllister whose photo essay on the remote region ran on our pages earlier and, much like Lorna’s piece, harnessed a huge response from our readers.

After collaborating on a story about the area – one of the “world’s last wildest places,” according to CNN – the duo (who’d never previously met) decided to embark upon a project of their own.

“Ian and I are working on a book together—his marvellous photographs of the Great Bear Rainforest and my poems responding to his images,” Lorna explained recently. Here’s a sneak peek – one poem, one photo (above) – of their efforts to come, keeping in mind that visiting this rich and unique Canadian ecosystem left Lorna wondering about its future.




Sea lions gather above you,

as nosy and dispassionate as angels

who catch sight of your tasks

small and far below

before they soar to a place more troubling

than where you are, at least for now.


Underwater, angels don’t need feathers;

they don’t need choirs or saints.

The sea lions, too, get by without them.


Ocean-thick, minus legs and wings

they dive, climb and wheel around you

as if, indeed, they are your keepers

so close their whiskers graze your face.



*Follow the hotlinks in the introduction for more on conservation issues relating to B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest.

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  1. Sandra Campbell commented:

    A stunning photo equally matched by Lorna’s poem. Thanks for supporting this innovative work which deepens our connection to our natural world in such a heartened way. More please!
    Sandra Campbell


  2. Ian McAllister commented:

    Lorna – I am can’t wait for this book to see the light of day. Poetry and the Great Bear Rainforest are a match made in heaven – and thank you Kim for ushering this project along.


    • lorna crozier commented:

      How thrilling for me to get to work with you, Ian. Every photo you take is an inspiration. And Kim, you’re responsible for the idea of our collaboration and for introducing us. What an editor, match-maker you are!


  3. Jane Munro commented:

    Wow! What a memorable poem and a marvellous photo. I will never think of sea lions again without remembering these images of them. Can’t wait to see the whole book.


  4. Savannah Featherstone commented:

    What a fabulous idea to marry these two crafts! I know the book will be as dazzling as you are, dear Lorna. This poem is an invitation to see the world and the truly mystical creatures that inhabit it, through different eyes.


  5. claudine potvin commented:

    I am not familiar with angels but I like Lorna’s. The picture is suggestive and the poem revealing. The conversation between image and word allows us to see something else, something more. Great!


  6. Shannon Litzenberger commented:

    Great photo! Lorna, your words expand our imagination into a whole world beyond the still. A great collaboration.


  7. Phyllis commented:

    It’s true, the sea lion in the photo does look like an angel. How lovely to think of sea lions as underwater angels. Thank you for this image, in words and photograph. I look forward to the book.


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