Usually what attracts or repels one in poetry is the way something is said, the striking perspective, rather than the subject matter as such. Let me start, then, by saying that, purely in terms of linguistic control, mastery of cadence and verse movement, and command of imagery, Patrick Lane, winner of the 1978 Governor-General's award for poetry, has to be classed along with John Newlove and Margaret Atwood as among Canada's most accomplished contemporary poets.
However, what a poem is saying cannot be ignored, especially if, as is the case with Lane, there is such a consistent, indeed obsessive pattern to his work. His main concerns are with violence and squalor. Any writer may choose to see...
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