Wildflowers at my doorstep
Karma Press, 2008

“Wildflowers at my doorstep is a collection of poetry which blossoms from the tenacious roots of Jewish history, covenant, mythology, and the ‘holy salve’ of the Goddess. Marni Norwich’s language reveals both her personal heritage and her contemporary life in Vancouver. Each poem is like an heirloom garden, fixed in the past and blooming with ‘the secret of survival,’ ‘the miracle of sunshine,’ and a ‘pulsing vein.’ Marni’s voice is paradoxically mystical and light-hearted. Even the Lord chuckles at times, and the Muse encourages similes like ‘dashes of pepper in a stew.’ Indeed, her words are fresh and pleasing to the palate: ‘I thrive on spice,’ she writes of Eve. Marni’s poems are like original recipes –sometimes based on past generations and their traditions, while offering new opportunities for nourishment and fare.”

April Bulmer, author of The Goddess Psalms (Serengeti Press), back cover of book


In her first published book, Marni Norwich keeps her writing spare and tight, the language pared down to pierce each target with the finest precision possible. The collection of 45 poems juxtaposes light and dark subjects, drawing the reader in expertly with wit and humour then turning sharply to address serious subjects. It is an impressive and delicate balance the artist maintains, a testament to her technical skills and sensitivity in employing her craft; she weaves light and soft textures of irreverence, wit and humour, alternating with weightier, coarser yarns and darker hues as she illustrates subjects including injustice, death, loneliness and loss. The result is a tapestry in which the light and the dark become blended and inseparable. One moment we are laughing, when suddenly the mood becomes serious. I found myself reading and rereading poems, not wanting to miss the subtleties, the nuances and the humour.”

-excerpt from review by Hilary Jacob. For full review, see Israel’s Books.

 Sample poems

All the crazy boys

All the crazy boys know my name.
They seek me out in crowds,
at subway stations.
They leave bouquets of wildflowers
at my doorstep.
I don’t know why.
I guess they have a radar on
for girls like me.
The crazy boys find me
when I least expect it.
Walking in the rain.
Riding on the bus.
Getting over
another crazy boy.
They woo me with their wildness:
with their rebel minds,
their sexy smiles,
the sultry way in which
they don’t quite
make sense.
All the crazy boys
know my number.
They call me up past midnight
to tell me stories,
thinking it is noon.
The crazy boys have histories
you would not want to guess at,
and it does not surprise me to learn
after a while
that they all come from the same place.
It seems the crazy boys are brothers
from the same family.
They got the gene for dark-eyed, handsome
madness, and Lord knows
they got a thing for me.

I Will

Listen, I’ve decided:
Life is too precious to ponder
the petty details any longer
and to put it bluntly,
I will not participate.
I will not be coming
to the party.
I will not be returning
the call.
I will not be
anything to anyone.
I will stare at the gray sky
till it is blue.
I will walk in the green fields and
smell the wildflowers.
I will imbibe this life the way
it was meant to be imbibed.
I will listen only to my body
and the black crows.
I will live by the true laws
of the Land.
I will pick wild blackberries
and pet cats.
I will write poems I share
only with the wind.
I will raise a child
on the edge of nowhere.
I will nourish her on magic
and honey.
I will teach her
the languages
of the fairies.
We will play in
the forest at twilight.
We will hurl all
to the sea.

We do not arrive

Life is a half-finished poem,
a puzzling run-in with an old boyfriend
on Commercial Drive,
the same old argument
with my younger sister.

It is never done or solved.
It is never wrapped up in pretty paper
and tied with a bow.
It is never accounted for, grieved over,
or sealed in a slick brown envelope.

It is tired and messy and underslept.
It is in need of a good shave.
It is anything but
what you think.

We are always saying
“life is like this”,
but what do we know?
After tens of thousands of years
we are still wondering
who we are.

The truth – if there is one –
might be that
we don’t arrive at any one place
but many.
And there is no salvation
beyond this one moment:
this slow, deep breath.