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Topic: Betsy Warland

Circles of Life and Death: Patrick Lane’s The Quiet In Me

The voices of Patrick Lane “fugitive, celebrant, anguished witness,” heard loud and clear in his 1978 Poems: New and Selected have not diminished. The Lane I first knew tough and tender, a maverick poet bruised by grief, softened by compassion for life in every form, elegiac for creatures and cultures lost can still be found in this posthumous collection. Through his own magic realism Lane transforms rugged specifics into parallel worlds. “Road Crew August 1956” takes us back to youthful swagger: “lounging in the machine’s shade…lank penis in his hand,/ pissing by the ditch where the grasses lie flattened and black,” aiming at a stag beetle under sun and sky. “It’s Finally Friday” loads giant firs into a boxcar, “belling” against the steel wall. The poem bristles with work, crew hijinks and masculine swagger. A grin from “Jimmy’s sister” touches ecstasy, the whole poem exploding in the exclamation, “Christ, I was young then.”

Lost wor(l)ds: Betsy Warland’s Lost Lagoon/lost in thought: prose poems

Betsy Warland’s Lost Lagoon/lost in thought is an elegant and bittersweet entry in the renowned Canadian feminist writer’s body of work. Warland refers to the book as “an elegy” (“#51/August 2018: Once again, ‘Very High Health Risk’ air”) for a lagoon that was not really “lost,” but “destroyed” (“#50/It is human nature to walk in circles when”).