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Remembering Patrick Lane
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Remembering Patrick Lane

By 49thShelf
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Remembering Patrick Lane, who passed away earlier this month, and his remarkable contributions—in a range of forms and genres—to Canadian literature.
The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane

The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane

edition:Hardcover
tagged : canadian

This volume represents the accumulated richness of fifty years' work by one of Canada's most important poets, Patrick Lane. Here, the reader can see how he developed from an engaged recorder of hard experience—even traumatic violence—into a master poet whose meditations on nature, human frailty, and love allow him to balance the world's suffering with stunning moments of transcendent beauty and a vision of peace. He expresses himself in a variety of forms and tones--in turn despairing and re …

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There Is A Season

There Is A Season

A Memoir
edition:Paperback
tagged : literary

Believed by many to be one of the finest poets of his generation, Patrick Lane is also a passionate gardener. He lives on Vancouver Island, a place of uncommon beauty, where the climate is mild, the air is soft, and the growing season lasts nearly all year long.

Lane has gardened for as long as he can remember, and sees his garden’s life as intertwined with his own. And when he gave up drinking, after years of addiction, he found solace and healing in tending to his yard. In this exquisitely wr …

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Excerpt

“If what we know is what resembles us, what we know is a garden.”
I stood alone among yellow glacier lilies and the windflowers of spring, the western anemone, their petals frail disks of trembling clotted cream. I was a boy and the mountain ridge I’d climbed was only a half-hour hike from the back door of my home. In the east the blue peaks of the Monashee Range rose up against the Selkirks and beyond them the far Rockies and the plains. I had wandered that morning among sheltered coulees and rocky hills and, finally resting, stared out at the paling distance.

The high hills and mountains were my solitary land and I hiked the trails year-round. The days were all one to me back then, and the scuffed pad of a cougar’s track in the wet clay of Six-Mile Creek in summer was no less wondrous than the spread toes of a coyote’s paw print in a fringe of January snow on the BX Ranch where he had braced to leap upon a vole or scurrying mouse who had come lucklessly into the thin winter sun.

There were black bears and the occasional cougar or bobcat in those hills, but when I saw one I felt awe, not fear. Even then I knew what a blessing an animal was. Any creature’s appearance was a gift the wilderness gave me. The animals of the backcountry were unused to humans in those days and they stepped around me as much as I did them. Sometimes a cougar would take a lamb or two in the spring from some flock and then the game warden would walk his dogs into the hills to track the big cat down. He hated killing cougars.

Often he would take me along on those trips; why, I don’t know. Perhaps he felt sorry for me or perhaps my father asked him to in the hope it would make me a man. Gazing at a cougar lolling on a high limb of a ponderosa pine above Lumby while the cougar dogs slung their howls from the foot of the tree at the flick of its black-tipped tail was to look at a god. I watched from the back of an old white horse as Mr. Frisbee pulled his Winchester from beside his saddle and brought the cougar down with a single shot. The cougar falling from the sky was my first huge death.

I remember touching the rough blond hair of a dead cat’s nape, the curve of its long yellow incisors, and the dead ball of its eye as it stared sightless through me to the fading sun. These deaths drew me toward a compassion I didn’t fully understand. All I knew was that such sentiments were not spoken of among men or boys. Feeling deeply about something was never shown.

But it is not the cougars or bobcats, the bears or rattlesnakes of that early wilderness I think of now. It is another early memory that stays in my mind. I was up in the Bluebush hills west of Kalamalka and Okanagan Lake. I had hiked back into the hills with a peanut butter and jam sandwich, two apples, and a water bottle in the army satchel my father had brought back from the Second World War. I took it with me whenever I hiked out for a day. I stood on a crest in a frothing meadow of glacier lilies and anemones, and their fragile beauty remains with me. It lives in the blood and muscle of me and I can still call it up and bring it into spirit.

Grasses, their stalks flattened and flung by the winter snow, lay like fallen hair upon the earth, and their new green spears caught the wind with frail hands. A mountain meadow and a boy in the long-ago of the last century. Did I know then it was a garden I looked out upon? Had I been asked I would not have understood the question. Garden? Wilderness? I gave the meadow no thought. Had someone asked me if what I saw was beautiful I would not have known what he meant. A boy is a boy and he is the place he inhabits. He is what surrounds him and the boy I was remains with me in the image of yellow lilies and creamy anemones among the grasses and scattered stones.

What was I, ten years old? A child, a stripling boy, but those mountains and deserts live in me still and when I go back into that country my heart surges with sudden blood. The past hurls itself at me at times. My bones remember the water and the stones. I grew my body from that mountain earth, and my cells remember the cactus and pines, the lilies and grasses. I am as much blessed as burdened by this.

It is such beauty that made me into a gardener. Perhaps by planting flowers and shrubs and trees I am trying to return to that earlier paradise. Yet finally, not. My garden today is another kind of paradise, and I am not the boy wandering in what another might call loneliness but to me was solitude.

What I do remember is squatting and building a small cairn of stones in the middle of the meadow. There was no death to cover over, no occasion to ritualize other than the day itself and the curious busyness of a boy. But, like all animals, I wanted to leave some mark that I had been there so others who followed would know of my passing. Perhaps the mound of stones is still there or perhaps it’s been kicked over by a deer or coyote or some other boy who pillaged the cairn to make his own curious mark. Perhaps the snow, ice, and wind have spilled it. Whether or not the cairn is gone, the stones remain like ghosts in my hands and that is enough.

Today, fifty-two years later, I am not in a mountain meadow in southern British Columbia. I am in my garden on Vancouver Island and it is early January in the first year of the new century. The sky is grey and the small drops of rainwater gathered on moss and fallen leaves glimmer like opals in the winter sun. In the declivities of grass, apples lie where they fell three months ago. Under the scrabbled branches of the apple tree a red-shafted flicker carves white flesh from a fallen fruit. He feeds on the slim bounty of the season and doesn’t fully trust the grass and moss I still call a lawn though each year I starve it, encouraging the mosses to flourish. The flicker’s claws are better suited to the bark of trees where he spends the day climbing patiently up the trunks in search of insects who have buried themselves in slits to sleep out the gloomy winter months.

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Too Spare, Too Fierce

Too Spare, Too Fierce

edition:Paperback

Too Spare, Too Fierce, a new collection of love poems and elegies, is the twenty-second volume of poetry Patrick Lane - hailed as "the best poet of his generation" - has produced during his 30-year career as a writer.

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Excerpt

TOO SPARE, TOO FIERCE
When the dawn is large enough
you will go out into that stiff blue and find a cat's paw
in the bird bath, a gift from the crow to morning.
There was a moment last night when you started walking
the iron rail in your bare feet on the bridge above the river
and you believed you wouldn't fall. Now, this morning,
you shake so badly you can't hold the glass,
lowering your face to it, your tongue
a tick grey muscle trying to drown.
Outside, mosquito larvae dance
among the claws and the little red cords
where the birds come to bathe. Old crow,
I will come as soon as I can.
THE ARTIST
These are the shapes he wants, the map of
the wilderness he searches in, the driftwood
he finds shaped into beasts
that are his dreams, the broken
weathered to reemblance by some wind
inside his mind, the imagined mountain
in the stone he climbs,
the peace he feels before descent.

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Washita

Washita

New Poems
edition:Paperback
tagged :

"Lane is a poet more of the individual, hard-hitting poem; like physical blows, he wields his pieces like small threats of intense beauty."
--Globe and Mail

Following the success of his award-winning memoir There is a Season (2004) and his bestselling novel Red Dog, Red Dog (2008), Patrick Lane felt his celebrated poetry career might be at an end and published his Collected Poems in 2011. But the process of revisiting his collected poetic works rekindled his first love and launched him on a new p …

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Witness

Witness

Selected Poems 1962-2010
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian

Patrick Lane is one of Canada's pre-eminent poets, winner of numerous awards, including the Governor General's Award for Poetry, the Canadian Authors Association Award, the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence and three National Magazine Awards. His distinguished career spans forty-five years and twenty-four volumes of poetry as well as award-winning books of fiction and non-fiction.

Witness is the only volume to cover the breadth of Lane's career and gather up the finest of his wo …

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