A Unicyclist of Poems – Patrick Lane – A Poem by Paulette Jiles and also an Invite to Lane’s Upcoming Celebration of Life, April 20th, 2019

Canadian Poet Patrick Lane (1939-2019)

Join the local literary & UVic communities as poets & authors celebrate the life of the late Patrick Lane.

This evening of poetry and tribute to the acclaimed poet and late UVic Department of Writing professor Patrick Lane will feature readings and memorials by a number of Writing alumni, including emcee Steven Price, Esi Edugyan, Carla Funk, Philip Kevin Paul, plus retired faculty members Lynne Van Luven and Lorna Crozier, among others. The evening will also see the posthumous presentation of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.


From Because You Loved Being A Stranger –  55 Poets Celebrate Patrick Lane

So this is it, Lane. Not a living wake, but a celebration of all your living. And this is only the beginning. Wait until you’re dead.

Susan Musgrave, editor, from You Loved Being a Stranger – 55 Poets Celebrate Patrick Lane, Harbour Publishing, 1994

What a shock to read these lines written by celebrated Canadian author Susan Musgrave in the introduction to a book of poems celebrating Patrick Lane’s fifty-fifth birthday twenty five years ago. Sadly, the wait is over. And the grief and celebration has begun.

And on April 20th we will experience another proof of this at Patrick’s memorial celebration (invitation above) at UVic’s David Lamb Theater at 7 PM. Already the outpouring of grief over Patrick’s death on March 7th and the concomitant celebration of his contribution to the Canadian literary landscape has been huge. I am sure at the memorial gathering in just more than a week that sense of grief but also celebration of his life will be equally powerful.

The contributors to the poetry collection celebrating Lane’ fifty-fifth still today represents a who’s who of Canadian poetry. It includes poems from the likes of Margaret Atwood, Newlove, P.K. Page, George Bowering, Marilyn Bowering, Susan Musgrave, Elizabeth Brewster, Lorna Crozier (Patrick’s beloved wife) and so many more.

But it’s not a poem by any of these luminaries I want to feature but one by the American Canadian author Paulette Jilles who for many years now has made her home in Texas where she has written some remarkable novels featuring that Texas landscape and history. Her latest novel News of the World was short-listed for the American National Book Award a few years ago. I loved that book! And her 2002 novel Enemy Women, also set in Texas, won the Canadian Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

For Pat Lane on his 55th

If you had been a Sarcee a hundred years ago
in Saskatchewan you wouldn’t know you were fifty-five;
there were other ways to count time; take comfort
in different systems. You would have said I was born the
year something happened; an eclipse or a spectacular
raid or fire; you could say, I stood still while the
cycles of the year went past me; quite a few of them,
don’t know how many. The year that moves past us is
always the same year; only we change. I’ve heard this
said, several people have told me this, don’t know
how many. Apparently we age inside a very large circle
of time and at the hub of this wheel we have a few drinks,
give a few readings, write a few poems and then we
are celebrating strange, foreign birthdays that used to
belong to a child bicycle-ing down a hill in Nelson,
wading up Redfish Creek, looking for arrowheads.
Here’s to the Big Wheels of life,
and here’s to a splendid writer, Unicycist of poems,
flying down the steep hills of Nelson,
ahead of the curve.

Paulette Jiles, ibid

Patrick, you were born while the storm clouds for World War II were gathering. You died in the year of the huge February storms. Their glory of snow as you said to me. Between those storms, the storms of your life, its hardscrabble beginnings, the drink, the drugs, the storms of the early years with Lorna then the rock-solid relationship no storm coould dislodge. But from age twenty or so and on always the glory of poems. Thank you, Unicylcist of poems.



Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *