The Essential Travis Lane

Primary Author: 
Travis Lane and Shane Neilson
The Essential Travis Lane

The Essential Travis Lane presents a selection of poems by a Canadian poet who combines exquisite observations of the natural world with profound thoughts about time and mortality.

Inspired by nature, science, topics in the news, art and music, New Brunswick poet M. Travis Lane is prolific yet eschews the spotlight. She has won the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the Alden Nowlan Prize for Excellence and the Banff Centre Bliss Carmen Poetry Award, among a host of others. The Essential Travis Lane celebrates her lilting, insightful work by bringing to the fore a selection of her shorter poems—many of them out of print—that demonstrate her signature clear-eyed perceptiveness and rhythmic formal technique. These poems are fine examples of her linguistic mastery, as well as the wisdom and heart that characterize her voice.

The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada’s most celebrated poets in a package that is beautiful, accessible and affordable. The Essential Travis Lane is the 13th volume in the series.

Table of contents

  • Foreword
  • An Inch Or So Of Garden
    • A Dream for Margaret
    • The Master Builder
    • Introduction to Caribou City
  • Poems 1968-1972
    • Pleasant Things
    • This Being the Case
    • Spring Break-up
    • The Hayman
    • The Statue
    • Plain Stars
    • The Song of Lot’s Wife
    • What Moves is Held
    • At Night Up Here The Road is Different
    • Mirrorings
    • I’ve Been to My Sweetheart’s
    • The Grindstone
    • Astronomical
    • Spring Sours
    • A Stone From Fundy
  • Divinations and Shorter Poems 1973-1978
    • The Grand Mirrors at Versailles
    • Matins
    • Last Picnic
    • That Eye
    • Colonial
    • The Healed Child
    • Ready To Sleep
    • Sleeping Children
  • Reckonings Poems 1979-85
    • "Only Connect"
    • Your Other Word
    • Six Poems Looking at a Sculpture By Ulker Ozerdem
  • About M. Travis Lane
  • Travis Lane: A Bibliography

Excerpt from book

A Dream for Margaret

Look, there are lights in the lemon trees.
The pale sea quakes
in the lime-bellied snares. The orchard floats.
And see—where the lighted ocean flakes,
the long drowned palace quivering
in shadows there.
(Bells nod, chink softly in the foam.)

Where was out scented mansion? There— where stairs of marble moonlight drift,
the feathered shade
streaks darkness on the foamy steps;
where fireflies come,
slight flakes of meaning touch the air.
The cool lights shaking in the groves
(pale moons of childhood, whispering,)
toll prisoned seas; the meanings fade.
The flecked mermaidens are ourselves,
O Margaret. Pluck not the lime.
Lights in the orchard drown all time.

"Only Connect"

A lavish hand for little us, God’s— or perhaps that hydrogen
that trims the mind’s circumference,
lavish, and always distanter.
So close at home
we feel the waning of the heart.
The edges of the universe, the Word,
retire. The friends die off.
The child sets out on labyrinths.
Goodbye. Goodbye.
What hand can reach out towards us from that dark?

But do we want a motion from the dead?
A hand that rises from the sea,
shakes, and, its fingers numbing,
    It slips against our gunnels, sinks.
The boat bobs on the inky waves.
I grab the oars. They thump and rap,
a vulgar spirit ouija-ing, not real,
not real. We all escape, grow separate.

More room, more room, the March Hare cried,
space head.


Millicent Elizabeth Travis Lane was born in 1934 in San Antonio, Texas. She moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1960 where to this day she holds the title of Honourary Research Associate for the Department of English at UNB. In addition to having published fourteen books of poetry, Lane’s poetry reviews have appeared in a number of publications over the last fifty years, most notably in The Fiddlehead. Her work has been awarded the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Bliss Carman Award.


Shane Neilson is a family physician who published his first trade book of poems, Meniscus, with Biblioasis in 2009. In addition to several collections of poetry, Neilson has published in the genre of memoir, short fiction, biography and literary criticism, and his work has been widely anthologized in poetry, nonfiction, and medical journals. In his medical doctor and writing practices, he focuses on mental illness, pain, and disability. He currently acts as editor for Victoria, B.C. publisher Frog Hollow Press. Though he currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, all of his work is rooted in rural New Brunswick.


Price: $4.99