Heidi Greco, author of “Practical Anxiety” writes about the artwork for her new book cover, and the image that served as a touchstone for the poems that would eventually fill the pages of the then-manuscript


One of the meanings of the term ‘cover story’ suggests a lie to conceal some misdeed. But in this instance, that’s not the case at all. I’m talking about the story behind the cover of my new book of poems.

When I first saw the painting of the crow in his precarious position, cleverly finding a way to get a drink of water, I was immediately intrigued. I’d only recently come up with the title, Practical Anxiety, but didn’t have all of the poems in place. In fact, many of them weren’t even written.   

The image of the resourceful crow lingered in my mind, and served over time as a kind of touchstone for the poems that would eventually fill the pages of the then-manuscript.

Once the book was accepted, I kept quiet, hoping I would be asked to provide suggestions for its cover. So, when the publisher asked if I had an image in mind, I sent an immediate yes, along with a link to the artist’s website, and crossed my fingers that when she viewed his work, she would see the same wonderfully nervous energy in the image as I had.

When it was agreed that the image worked well with the title, it was time for negotiations with the artist, Jian Jun An. He’s a well-respected member of Vancouver’s arts community, and I was grateful that Luciana was willing to take on the task of securing rights to the artwork.

Then, when she informed me that she’d been successful, my shoulders went down and I got back to tweaking the poems – hoping I’d be able to bring them up to the standard laid out by the cover art.

In August, as the book was nearing its publication date, the artist had a new show opening at Vancouver’s Pendulum Gallery . I was lucky to not only be invited to attend, but to speak about his artwork at this event.


Anyway, now that the book is here, hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear from someone telling me how much they love the cover. I figure now I just have to hope they’ll love the content too.

So, no cover-up intended, that’s my cover story – and I’m stickin’ to it, ‘cause all of it is true.


Heidi Greco, author of Practical Anxiety (Inanna, 2018)