Canadian poetry icon says pill more important than Apple

Patrick Lane can’t understand what all the fuss is about the death of Steve Jobs.

“I see on the news feed wires that what’s-his-name from Apple is having his biography released. So what? What about the person who invented the [birth control] pill? Why aren’t they well known? They changed the course of history more than him.”

The 72-year-old poet/writer kept the University of Toronto class of young adults hanging onto every word with practice and colour. UTSC presented the reading in conjunction with his latest release entitled, The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane, and made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Lane is one of Canada’s most well-known poets.  He is also a winner of numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Canadian Authors Association Award, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and three National Magazine Awards.

“He gave a very unfiltered view of the world, very real. His experiences, he expresses very literally, not just figuratively or philosophically,” said fourth-year English student, Tim Boodram.

[audio:|titles=Patrick Lane poem] Patrick Lane reads from his work.

Asked if he expected the amount of humour that the senior poet unleashed, Boodram answered, “No I didn’t, he seems really casual and uses a lot of colourful language in his everyday speech.”

Lane also talked about his own life and how it gave him inspiration in between delivery of his poems.

“I was a first-aid man in a logging camp and I had to deliver a baby one time. It used to cost over a hundred dollars to have a baby delivered in a hospital before national health care, and the mother didn’t have it. Next thing I knew I was holding a slippery football shape in my arms,” Lane said when describing his former profession before being recognized for his art.

Apart from putting his own life experiences into his literature, Lane’s work has also been known for its history of violence and darkness.

When asked to comment on how suicide currently accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24-year-olds in Canada he answered, “your generation is surrounded by statistics, you are the most investigated people on earth […] you’re worse than the lost generation, I don’t know what you can call yourselves.”

Professor Neal Dolan, who served as moderator during the event, asked Lane, “why do you read poetry, why do some of us read poetry and why should we?”

Lane replied, “the outward pain and the inward pain. If you learn the inward pain inside you, you’ll grow as a human. Fine poetry gives us a look at the inward world.”

The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane is made available by Harbour Publishing and is now in stores.

About this article

By: Cole Carruthers
Posted: Oct 27 2011 9:01 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life