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Poetry Canadian

Last Water Song

by (author) Patrick Lane

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Sep 2007
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11


Shortlisted for the 2008 Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry
Longlisted for the 2007 Victoria Butler Book Prize

Last Water Song, the first collection of new poetry from award-winning poet Patrick Lane since Go Leaving Strange (Harbour, 2004), is divided into two parts. The first part is a series of 16 long elegies on writer acquaintances who have died, including Adele Wiseman, Al Purdy, Earle Birney and Irving Layton. Prosey, relaxed and personal, these are some of the most moving poems Lane has written. The second section consists of 23 lyrics and narratives more typical of Lane's recent work, ranging from the eloquent "Teaching Poetry" to the evocative title poem with its hint of finality. Last Water Song is the work of a great Canadian poet, a collection to treasure.

About the author

Patrick Lane, considered by most writers and critics to be one of Canada's finest poets, was born in 1939 in Nelson, BC. He grew up in the Kootenay and Okanagan regions of the BC Interior, primarily in Vernon. He came to Vancouver and co-founded a small press, Very Stone House, with bill bissett and Seymour Mayne. He then drifted extensively throughout North and South America. He worked at a variety of jobs, from labourer to industrial accountant, but much of his life was spent as a poet. He was also the father of five children and grandfather of nine. He won nearly every literary prize in Canada, from the Governor General's Literary Award to the Canadian Authors Association Award to the Dorothy Livesay Prize. In 2014, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada, an honour that recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree. His poetry and fiction have been widely anthologized and translated into many languages. His more recent books include Witness: Selected Poems 1962-2010 (Harbour Publishing, 2010), The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane (Harbour Publishing, 2011), Washita (Harbour Publishing, 2014; shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award), Deep River Night (McClelland & Stewart, 2018) and a posthumous collection, The Quiet in Me (Harbour Publishing, 2022). Lane spent the later part of his life in Victoria, BC, with his wife, the poet Lorna Crozier. He died in 2019.

Patrick Lane's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Patrick Lane has been following an incantatory breath line for the last several years, and with Last Water Song, his new collection of poetry, he has found his way."
"It shows a Lane to be a poet without peak; stylistically and thematically, he has always been powerfully reflective."
--Christine Matte, Monday Magazine

Praise for <i>Last Water Song</i>

Librarian Reviews

Last Water Song

This book of poems consists of sixteen heartfelt elegies written for close writer friends and acquaintances including Irving Layton, Al Purdy and Earle Birney. Lane speaks to them as if they were alive, and he shares with us special moments spent with them. Through the elegies we learn much about Lane as well—reflections on his own mortality, the difficulties of crafting poetry, and the pain in making sense out of life. To poet Milton Acorn, Lane says, “Today I’m trying to find a piece of myself I lost. Instead, I find you.” Part Two contains twenty-three lyric and narrative poems. In quiet moments, often immersed in nature, he contemplates the fragility of life. Even though Lane is preoccupied with death, in “The Sooke Potholes” he celebrates that “we are a living place, the whisper of these waters ours to hold however brief our stay”.

Patrick Lane has received most major literary awards in Canada.

Caution: Contains some coarse language.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

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