The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand
The Poetry of M. Travis Lane
Paper 102 pp.
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The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand: The Poetry of M. Travis Lane is a collection of thirty-five of her best poems, selected with an introduction by Jeanette Lynes. An environmentalist, feminist, and peace activist, M. Travis Lane is known for witty and meticulously crafted poems that explore the elusive nature of “home” in both historical and present contexts and reflect on the identity of the woman poet and what it means to be a writer. Lane’s poems exhibit impressive range and variety—long poems, short lyrics, serial poems, poems inspired by visual art—and are richly attentive to the landscapes, both urban and wild, of her New Brunswick home. They voice a sense of urgency with respect to ecological crises and war; her poetic attention fixes unwaveringly on the smallest pebble on the coast of Fundy but is equally attuned to global patterns of destructive domination.
In her introduction “As Opportunity for Grace, This Life May Serve”, editor Jeanette Lynes discusses how Lane’s poetry integrates an ecopoetic vision with explorations of the artist’s task of mapping her world. Lane’s afterword reinforces her sense of the poet’s project as a form of mystical play, a search for patterns in the “unified disunities” of all things.
Jeanette Lynes is an associate professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University and co-editor of The Antigonish Review. She is the author of three collections of poetry; her fourth poetry book and a novel are forthcoming in 2008.
M. Travis Lane is Honorary President of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick and a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has published eleven books of poetry (including the forthcoming The Safety Net) and received numerous awards, including the Bliss Carman Poetry Prize, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in English Language Literary Arts.
“The aspect I admire most about this selection is the sheer range of Lane’s imagination.... Wisdom is found in abundance in this collection.... There are two quotations from the afterword that sum up for me the experience of reading M. Travis Lane. ‘Mystery, I think, is the cheif subject of poetry’ (77) and ‘a poem is not a message, but a sharing’ (79). There is a seeking spirit moving through these poems, and readers will be grateful for what it shares.”
— Ian LeTourneau, PoetryReviews
“[A]s someone who only discovered Lane’s work with Temporary Shelter in 1993, I appreciate the opportunity to read earlier poems and to glimpse the chronological evoluation of her craft.... Even though this book is aimed at students as well as general readers, with its useful introduction and generous Afterword, in which we meet the poet stepping outside her craft to say what is and has been important to her, the beating heart of it is of course in the poems themselves.”
— Barbara Myers, ARC Poetry Magazine
“Lane’s poems are regularly capable of disarming their readers with what Jeanette Lynes—in her introduction to the book—calles a ‘willingness to let the odd, the quirky, the eccentric, sing’. The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand exults in a wilderness that is...not always interpretable or scriptable by humanity...Lane’s poetics connote a...deferral of...ego to the uninterpretable natural world.”
— Owen Percy, The Goose
“Lane presses the belief that the key to significant action is the relinquishing of ego [in her] in a brief but inspired afterword.”
— Paul W. Harland, University of Alberta, Journal of Canadian Poetry
“Lane’s work is comprehensive and thorough with lively images, deep and passionate feeling, provocative thought, and comfortable strength.... Lane... says ‘poetry is a pleasure with the sound of meaning.’ Her work is indeed a pleasure, and it is further pleasure to have it published in the Laurier Poetry Series.”
— Michael O. Nowlan, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton, NB)
“The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.”
— Paul Milton, Canadian Literature
“Excellently selected and edited by Jeanette Lynes for the Laurier Poetry Series, this tidy text renders Lane’s oeuvre accessible to new readers.”
— Kit Dobson, The Dalhousie Review