Keeping Count by M. Travis Lane
* Shortlisted for the 2021 Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize, presented by the New Brunswick Book Awards
Keeping Count, M. Travis Lane’s 18th collection of poetry, begins in the poet’s favourite terrain: short, condensed lyric that focuses on the natural world. “But pull a thread: music turns” Lane writes, and the book progressively defamiliarizes the reader, moving from ecopoetry to a longer poetry of interiority in the second section, concluding with a final section that focuses on issues of mortality. As George Elliott Clarke has written so aptly, “If you have not read Lane before, prepare to travel: Like T.S. Eliot, she wants you to have a transporting experience in your imagination. If you have read Lane before, prepare for fresh astonishment. She is Homeric breadth and Sapphic brevity."
"Each of these poems re-reveals Lane’s exceptional lyricism; she can make any word, however seemingly drab, find its tune, and turn any subject into melody, but not an overdone jingle, rather a piece subtly balancing sound and image: “A storm last night. The surly day / still wrings its sullen handkerchief.” The spirited philosophical mind at work here – sometimes explicitly, sometimes slyly – on topics ranging from the conditions of perception and the natural world to the quietness of midwinter afternoons, brings pleasure with its depth." – Yusuf Saadi
“Lane suggests that aging is a course of living that lets us map, count and credit the constellation of people, places and experiences we value—even when, like the stars, these exist only as after-images." – Marguerite Pigeon, for the League of Canadian Poets
"Lane’s imagination, precision, and control of sound and image are as astonishing to me as the rich diversity of her subjects. The structural virtuosity of her long poems is equally impressive, ranging from a pastoral, sextet, trilogy, and fairy tale, through flash back and forward, geography, lament, image maps, talking photographs, and satire, to the seasons and dance." – Susan Ioannou, for the League of Canadian Poets
"M. Travis Lane’s writing impels and bewitches—often for the same reasons: impels because of her fierce acuity, her unremittingly engaged intelligence as a reviewer and her razor-fine sense of lyric texture as a poet; bewitches with the capaciously melodic cadences of her thinking and with the sustained conceptual resonances of her creative and critical practice." – Kevin McNeilly, for the Malahat Review