Patrick Lane John Cook - Essay

John Cook

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Patrick Lane] continues to produce sharp and crafty verse. In [No Longer Two People] he has entangled his imagination with Lorna Uher's to produce a duet of violent, but ultimately gentle, love poems….

No Longer Two People takes the form of a poetic dialogue with alternating statements, Uher's under the emblem of a spreading tree, and Lane's under what I take to be a rising sun although his poems themselves speak often of death and the approach of winter. Each poet reacts to and develops the imagery and themes of the other producing a blending of visions that parallels the theme of personal union explored in the poems. It is a unity born of the violence of love with its conflict of desire and fear and its surrender of selves. Against a background of seasonal change this cycle of love poems develops a metaphor drawn from the hunt and makes mythic what might be mere kissing and telling….

The book at times suffers from a lack of freshness of diction. There is, for instance, more than a passing resemblance to Atwood's gothic vision with its occasional grotesque images and its use of metaphor drawn from Susanna Moodie and the pioneer experience. One wonders what might have transpired if the authors had taken the time to seek out the fresh image. For in spite of these lapses, the openness, the brutal frankness makes for compelling reading. (p. 39)

John Cook, "New Directions and Old," in The Canadian Forum, Vol. LIX, No. 697, March, 1980, pp. 38-9.∗