first_imgLove in letters: Lorna Crozier remembers poetic romance with Patrick Lane by Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press Posted Mar 13, 2019 8:54 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Emailcenter_img Lorna Crozier couldn’t sleep.For more than four decades, she and fellow poet Patrick Lane had been partners in love and literature. But on Friday morning, Crozier lay alone in bed in the home they shared near Victoria, the devastation of the prior 24 hours washing over her. She rolled over to turn on the radio, and there it was — that familiar baritone, with a conversational lilt.“Some mornings there’s just too much rain,” Lane intoned over the airwaves, a line from the last of his 25 poetry volumes, “Washita.”It felt as if Crozier’s husband was speaking directly to her. But of course, swaths of Canadians were listening to the same broadcast paying tribute to Lane in the wake of the 79-year-old’s death last Thursday.Lane’s literary force had touched the lives of so many readers, none more so than Crozier, and so her loss was theirs too.“He brought beauty into even those places that do not have beauty on their own, and into the lives of people who are struggling,” Crozier said in a phone interview on Sunday. “He gave them a voice, and he gave them a place in letters. And I can’t think of many other poets who have done that.”Over his half-century writing career, Lane racked up accolades for his poetry, novels and non-fiction — including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Canadian Authors Association Award and three National Magazine Awards — and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2014.Born in Nelson, B.C., on March 26, 1939, Lane had no formal education beyond high school. As a young man, he worked in the sawmills in B.C.’s Interior to support his first wife and three children.In the late 1960s, Lane decided to fully devote himself to writing. He travelled the world honing his craft before returning to Canada to settle down with his second wife and have two more sons.In 1976, Crozier, then a high school teacher in Swift Current, Sask., drove two and a half hours to see Lane speak at a poetry workshop in Regina, hoping the rising writer would give her feedback on her own poems. As soon as they met, she said, “sparks flew.”Both married at the time, Crozier and Lane initially didn’t act on their attraction. But when the pair reunited two years later at a writers’ conference in Saskatoon, Crozier said they couldn’t hold back anymore.“We knew that was going to be it. That we were going to have to bring ruin on our marriages, and damage some people, because we couldn’t not be together,” she said. “None of our friends thought we would last, nor did we. And we’ve lasted 40 years and would have lasted longer had he not died.”The early years of their romance were filled with raucous debate, often in the company of friends, and antics fuelled by hard partying, Crozier said.But for Lane, the party didn’t seem to end. Crozier said he would wake up in the middle of the night and drink a mickey of vodka as he battled alcoholism, a journey he detailed in his 2004 memoir, “There Is a Season,” which won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.After receiving treatment for his addiction, Lane asked Crozier to marry him. Having already lived together for 23 years, Crozier said the proposal seemed unnecessary. But he told her, “I want to make a different kind of commitment to you, and to who we are, now that I’m sober.”The couple settled into a quiet routine. During the day, they wrote alone in separate offices, barely speaking if they passed one another in the hallway.But rarely would a piece of writing make it to print before the other partner had read it. The day before Lane died, Crozier returned a file of his poems marked up with her edits, which they were supposed to review over the weekend.In Lane’s final months, Crozier said her “ill beloved” suffered from heavy fatigue due to an autoimmune disease, which hindered his progress on a new novel and put an end to his strolls through his prized garden.“In some ways, I don’t think it was a heart attack,” Crozier said, her voice cracking. “I think his heart just couldn’t keep going in that ill-fatigued state any longer, and just gave up.”Fellow literary power couple Esi Edugyan and Steven Price, who both took Lane’s first-year poetry course at the University of Victoria, paid a visit to Crozier in Saanich on Sunday to remember their friend and former instructor.Edugyan fondly laughed as she thought of Lane bursting into her first writing class in the same red sweater he wore every time he taught, toting a bundle of books and papers in a plastic shopping bag.What Lane lacked in pretence he made up for in mastery of his craft, the two-time Giller Prize winner said, instilling in his students an appreciation for the poetry of every sentence, every syllable. “He was a world-class writer, and such a gift to Canadian letters,” said Edugyan.In this way, Lane’s influence lives on not only in the students he nurtured, but in the writing of his wife and reciprocal muse.Lately, Crozier said she’s been thinking about a poem she wrote early in her relationship with Lane, “Living Day by Day.”“We are at home with one another, we are each other’s home,” she recited, quivering, “the voice in the doorway calling come in, come in, it’s growing dark.”Adina Bresge, The Canadian Presslast_img

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