Arrivals: Lost Flower of Crete

Oh, happy day! My copy of the Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete has arrived.

The book is as beautiful as I had imagined it complete with a golden piano on the cover (design by David Drummond).

I hope to plan book launches for the fall. In the meantime you can celebrate with a glass of champagne holding your own copy in your hands. You can order the collection world wide from your favourite independent bookstore or directly from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Enjoy and may we soon meet in person in the real world.


You travel only with the clothes you’re wearing on the night ferry from Athens to Crete.

Thyme clings, high / and away from the grazing and scents / the air.

Island life carries on while a beautiful woman lies in a coma surrounded by friends and lovers.

Island reality is interconnected with live-retrieved memories in which a nurse follows a violent patient into the northern Canadian bush, a migrant mother faces her new job as the village butcher, an Ojibway man is forced to walk a dangerous route home alone, teenagers loot the local dump to build their mother’s wheelchair, and an electrician watches a woman play a grand piano on a ballfield.

A (re)creation of the surreality and altered time within deep states of grieving, Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete juxtaposes sorrow with fragmentary unapologetic joy. Eleonore Schönmaier forges compelling symphonic resonances between European musical encounters and a northern working-class childhood. By centring her experiential empathy on a history of racism and poverty, she guides us into better ways of being. Intimate reflections are contrasted with geopolitical and environmental concerns as Schönmaier’s fierce intelligence focuses on what is most essential in our lives.

The arc of this collection offers a rejuvenating meditation on the meaning of loss and love, highlighted by the lyric beauty of the writing.


“These are understated poems grounded in imagism, snapshots of a life, where the poet speaks quietly to her reader with precision and insight.” Armand Garnet Ruffo, author of Treaty#


“Spanning continents and decades, the poems in Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete bear witness to beauty, pain, and injustice alike. Meditative and musical, Schönmaier’s verse renders the world in vivid, attentive language.” Annick MacAskill, author of Murmurations


Poetry film created by Eleonore Schönmaier with footage from Crete, multiple voices (English and Greek), poetry and music by Two Deep Breaths.

8 comments

  1. Got my copy in Nova Scotia a few days ago and, coincidentally, just enjoyed reading the first 24 pages with my morning tea. So many delights so far, including “Tasting the Fallen Sky” with the remarkable image of blue sky reflected in a glass of water, “Full Moon” with its drama of those telling stories of love and those unwilling to do so, “Slowly” with its pickled seaweed and packsacked pomegranates, and the Amsterdamian (?) “Fabric” with its single sentence building up to such an unexpected move from caution and suspiciousness to the revelation of strangers in need of discussing their sense of universals.

  2. Thursday morning’s tea was Russian Caravan and this morning’s was Assam, but both tea-drinkings were accompanied by first readings of the poems in Field Guide…. Thank you for further memorable minutes, including those discovering “The Dumb Waiter” (a whole world in 3 pages–one of your finest ‘Northern’ poems ever), “Inner” (a perfectly paced yet sometimes appropriately dizzying poem, with an exquisite ending), “Multitude” (subtle love poem, with another strong ending–and I like the long lines), and “Sleepless” (powerful compacting of so much of the 20th-century into a short space). Now I’ll looking forward to Saturday morning’s tea and poetry!

  3. Saturday’s tea: Darjeeling (2 mugs worth). Further favourite new poems from Field Guide… “Branches,” with Heidegger & paths, alley & mountain & bench, history & music & birdsong, ghosts & demolition & danger, those short lines and many enjambments helping the poem mimic a tricky walk. Fine music-enriched poems: “Quinzhee,” striking for the frozen fingers on a keyboard, the notes like quinzhees “inside your mind,” the shift to a “southern // home”; “So Much Remains Invisible,” like an understated, atmospheric micro-story. I also found the pair “Sky” and “Open” appealingly good-humoured and elliptical and, again, expertly paced. Looks like tomorrow or Monday will end a first reading of the book–then comes more re-reading (some done already).

    1. I wish I could send you “the flavour labeled old books” which would taste delicious with your tea as you read the final pages though perhaps a local variety can serve as a substitute.

  4. What a hike of words and lines it’s been over the past four days. Saturday morning, sips of Nepal Black tea accompanied first encounters with more gladdening poems, including “Johnny on the Spot” (original, funny, with dramatic use of scene and dialogue), “Beethoven and the Doorbells” (beginning in the human comedy of accident, but moving into lyricism), “Softly” (a mysterious poem personifying a sonata–who ever imagined that musical form as a breathing, human-sized thing sitting in a blue chair in a metal cage?–it’s tempting to imagine the poem translated into a painting), “Chocolatier” (a couple of years ago I read Cicero’s “How to Grow Old’; your poem shows that aging can include not just mortality and memory, but also the sensuousness of a chocolate inspired by a library’s scent, including the concluding “myrrh,” with its pleasing hum.) It’s felt like a privilege to travel through the pages of your new collection. Thank you, Eleonore!

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