Patrick Lane Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Patrick Lane 1939–

Canadian poet.

Lane has been called a "maverick poet" for his often brusque and unflinchingly rough portrayals of life in British Columbia. Though he has written some lyric and introspective poetry, Lane's narrative poems have been most successful. As the poet-observer, he records the stories of hard-working people, failures, and outcasts with dramatic images rendered through a disturbing voice. Some critics find Lane's visceral style sensational in its emphasis on violence. Others praise him for combining "the grotesque with the deeply human" to achieve a harsh but true realism.

Lane's early poetry was marked by experiments in language and form through which he gradually developed a unique, documentary style. Most critics feel his poetry matured with the volumes Beware the Months of Fire and Unborn Things; the latter recounts his experiences while traveling in South America. For Poems New and Selected Lane received the Governor General's Award in 1978. His recent collection, The Measure, has further expanded Lane's reputation as one of Canada's most distinctive poets.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 97-100.)