I was very upset to hear of Joel Lane’s passing last night. He was a terrific writer. I know his poetry better than his prose and perhaps in time I’ll read more of his fiction. He’d won major awards as a Fantasy writer and that just goes to show his remarkable scope. Joel was a contributor to Overheard, Stories to Read Aloud published by Salt and edited by my husband Jonathan Taylor. There is a very moving post here by Jane Commane about Joel and his writings on the Midlands.
Joel had a very unassuming presence as a poet, even though he was extremely good at writing poetry. He seemed to shy away from the limelight. We once spoke briefly about him putting together a new poetry collection. He told me he wanted to but he felt a little disconnected from the poetry world. That was about a year ago. Many thanks then to Flarestack for publishing his final pamphlet of poetry, Instinct, a beautiful book I’d strongly recommend. I’m including the poem below as an example of his ability to marry clarity and evocation so distinctively. I had tears in my eyes as I was typing this up.
Ghosts of the Living
After a day of bruised silence
you finally answered the phone
in a child’s voice. That night
your blank side came to my house
and stood on the doorstep, thin
and trembling, unable to hold on
to yourself. It took me an hour
to bring colour back to your face.
In the morning you left your shadow
pinned to my bedroom wall:
another still for me to run throughthe projector of broken sleep.