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Memorial at UVic Saturday to celebrate life of poet Patrick Lane

The life of Victoria poet Patrick Lane was a patchwork quilt of people, places, gardens and good times.
Patrick Lane at his home in North Saanich in 2013. A public memorial is set for Saturday at UVic.

The life of Victoria poet Patrick Lane was a patchwork quilt of people, places, gardens and good times. A public memorial being held in his honour Saturday evening at the University of Victoria’s David Lam Auditorium will give those mourning his loss a chance to celebrate that life, and Lane’s incalculable impact on the local literary community.

“The reason I’m a poet is because of Patrick Lane,” said Rhonda Ganz, who is organizing the event on behalf of Lane’s widow, Lorna Crozier, with assistance from the writing department at UVic.

“So many people in the audience [Saturday] are going to be people who ended up in published books because of Patrick.”

Lane, a Governor General’s Award winner and officer of the Order of Canada, died March 7 after a long illness, three weeks shy of his 80th birthday.

Saturday’s event, set for 7 p.m., is expected to be well-attended — organizers are asking guests to arrive early.

Planet Earth Poetry is hosting another memorial for Lane at Langham Court Theatre on May 19, which should help ease some of the congestion this weekend at UVic.

“It’s a second opportunity if people can’t come to the Saturday event,” Ganz said.

The George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at the memorial on Saturday.

Lane had been scheduled to receive the prestigious literary honour on April 27 in a ceremony that was moved from Vancouver to Victoria due to his health. Crozier, who won the award last year, will accept the trophy in Lane’s honour.

At UVic, where he taught in the department of writing from 1992 to 2004, Lane coached several students who would go on to become prominent writers. Though the demands of his own writing career were considerable, he made the effort to stay in touch with his former students, mentoring them whenever possible. Some of them have been asked to read Lane poems during the memorial, which would have greatly pleased him, Crozier said.

“When the idea of a tribute came up, I knew these are the people who he would be most pleased by,” she said. “It would warm his heart to see them.”

The list of guests is a reflection of Lane’s vivid life and varied career, with everyone from former students, including award-winning author Esi Edugyan, and longtime friends such as poet Jan Zwicky to post-secondary peers, including writer Lynne Van Luven, set to appear at the podium. Victoria writer Steven Price will serve as emcee. “We’re trying to give a complete picture of his career,” Ganz said.

Music from former Great Big Sea frontman Alan Doyle will be played, while Terry Ann Carter, Alexandra Pohran-Dawkins and Philip Kevin Paul will perform pieces written for the event.

Audio of Lane, who was originally from Nelson, reading his poem What Language Can’t Reach for CBC Radio will be played, and a film clip of him reading another effort, Dinner, will be shown.

Lane will undoubtedly be present, and not just in spirit, according to Crozier.

“If we can imagine people somewhere, looking down or looking up, whatever the case may be, I know he would love to be at this event.”

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