Winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Poetry
A hymn to a beloved lake, a praise poem in forty-five parts,
a contemplation of landscape and memory
Lake of Two Mountains, Arleen Paré’s second poetry collection, is a portrait of a lake, of a relationship to a lake, of a network of relationships around a lake. It maps, probes and applauds the riparian region of central Canadian geography that lies between the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence Rivers. The poems portray this territory, its contested human presences and natural history: the 1990 Oka Crisis, Pleistocene shifts and dislocations, the feather-shaped Ile Cadieux, a Trappist monastery on the lake’s northern shore. As we are drawn into experience of the lake and its environs, we also enter an intricate interleaving of landscape and memory, a reflection on how a place comes to inhabit us even as we inhabit it.
sky on the move across the lake
slant sheets closing in
sky collapsing from its bowl
shoreline waiting taut
stones dark as plums
~from “Distance Closing In”
Praise for Lake of Two Mountains:
“When has a body of water said so much, been looked at so many ways, spoken in so many voices? Arleen Paré’s “lake” is an astonishing creation, alive and changeable, as multifaceted as light on water. “Lake of Two Mountains” is a literal place, yes, but it is also a place with spiritual, personal, religious and political dimensions. A kind of all-seeing deity, it observes human life and measures the passing of time. I am in awe of this lake, its reach and complexities rooted in the specifics of flora and fauna. I am also in awe of Paré’s marvelous and deeply authentic poems.
“Arleen Paré’s poems are monastic prayers of forgiveness, intense simplicities that praise all we have lost, all we have left. She is a gift the world has given us. Read her and then in deep quiet read her again.”