The AUTUMN MYTH – by Joel Lane

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of ‘The Autumn Myth’ by Joel Lane (Arc Publications 2010). This is a book of poems – and I’m reasonably sure this is the first time I’ve real-time reviewed poems, as opposed to fiction works.

This poetry book appears to be divided into three numbered sections. I am not clear about the purpose of the sections. Perhaps I shall discover any purpose on the way, without breaking the rules of The Intentional Fallacy. (2 Dec 10)

Caveat: Beware spoilers, but can you have spoilers when reviewing poems? And there is one poem dedicated to and entitled ‘Nemonymous’ in the second section as I discovered on inquisitively riffling through the book prior to reading it.


“impossible to evict or live with.”

I have now read the whole of this section. Today I am sitting snow-wrecked in my chalet bungalow by the North Sea during a new late Autumn myth that Winter never comes this early. These poems take me into a different bleakness, a different society and its unfairness and cruel ironies, different from the place I live – yet I feel what the poems say for real, in my different bones – snaking (almost DH Lawrence-like) from inferred prose along its Lanes of enjambment towards an essential poetry that is both comforting to me (through my coddled human nature that I am not truly engaged with or physically affected by the iron soul of this poetry and its meaning) and distressing (because it gives me the uncoddled human nature to become thus engaged as well as spiritually affected). I’ve not known poetry do this to me before so markedly.  I am perhaps the reader who is represented by the Leopard in one of these poems. Or a representative of those who deny fairness to those who walk (as I know) the prose fiction as well as (as I am learning here to know) the poetry of this author. There is also a sense of retrocausality (“What did you do / when the future was dying?”) in some of these poems, a sense of positive regression that allows me to shake off any sense of didacticism or politics in these poems – during this exercise of communion with the poems as part of a ‘live’ reportage to anyone reading this review in real-time. There is also a sense of impossibility diminished.  A sense of hope that only an expression of despair together with poetic irony can create. Like how can there be hope, without the contrast of despair?  Hope increased by its dark backdrop, like a Van Gogh painting that brings forth a Whovian catharsis, as the soul-embodied hold each other’s hands “among rocks and stars“? (2 Dec 10 – two hours later)


“…and the man looked out the window / to see the snow dissolving the glass.”

From what I feel are the urban landscape and unfairnesses expressed by the first section of poems to the more physically or mentally personal (person-to-person, person-to-self, person-to-music, person-to-Godness?Death?). A sense of unfairness here, too, but without that unfairness, where would the music come from or go to?  I feel I am being talked to direct, but how can the poet know I am looking out of the window at “drifting” snow as I actually am while I read this book?  Only because the glass between us dissolves, not the snow?  The enjambment of these Lanes runs through the deepest synchronicities, I sense. The most poetic retrocausalities.  “I didn’t know his name until afterwards.”  (2 Dec 10 – another two hours later)


A music mix of ONE and TWO as this lexophony reaches its heart-breaking and heart-mending, hearts-blending CODA.  At first a form of ‘Birthday Letters’  (“the hallway is choked with letters / you’re unable to stop writing”), a poetical conversation with ‘you’ (but “no crows in the branches” while ‘Crows’ nests have ruined the trees’), backdropped by a struggle with urban ‘nature’ and its abodes of living and unfairnesses fit to start revolutions.  The ‘you’ becomes ‘we’ towards the end and the earlier snow becomes “…grey walls / heavy with stored rain”.  Whatever the righteous or lefteous cause, these poetic ‘branch’-lanes make it a good one. You can’t argue with poetry like you can with real life. Meanwhile, this Coda has for me “the flawless / drift of pure white snow / to hold the print or the bloodstain.” (2 Dec 10 – another 3 hours later)


All my real-time reviews are linked from here:


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6 responses to “The AUTUMN MYTH – by Joel Lane

  1. I’ve just noted that the last three RTRs (including this one) have connections with Hughes:
    THE SATYR by Stephen J Clark – the narrator is Mr Hughes
    THE AUTUMN MYTH by Joel Lane – I made a comparison with Ted Hughes’ ‘Birthday Letters’ and ‘Crows’

  2. Talking about poetry (as I should do more often, I guess), I note that a poem from 1997 was posted yesterday HERE, a poem that implicates my name and work!

  3. Joel’s public comment here: :-

    “Des, thanks for this. Your comments are really helpful, and make connections that hadn’t occurred to me. For example, while one poem uses ‘snow’ in its slang sense (and was inspired by a deeply uncomfortable conversation with a coke-fuelled ego that had, an hour earler, been a human being), in another poem it is just snow. The effect of considering them together is intriguing. And what you say about the third section really moved me.
    For the record, I think there are a few poems in the book. But not loads.”

  4. Pingback: Contents of REAL-TIME REVIEWS books | My Last Balcony

  5. Pingback: DF Lewis's Real-Time Reviews

  6. My tribute to the sadly missed Joel Lane:
    Please follow the secondary link on that page for the connections and some pictures.

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