The Old Rob Poems (Paperback)
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Poetry. John Lane's Old Rob is a character based loosely on a real mountain neighbor he knew when he first bought a place in the North Carolina mountains. The real Rob was a retired logger who dabbled in real estate. What struck Lane as they talked on his porch was how Rob was a seam character, like someone passing from the old mountain world into a purely modern one. That seemed like a fun persona and situation to play with. At the same time that Lane started on these poems he began to build a cabin on his place on the site of the original structure from the 19th century. He engaged a young mountain man to help him build it, someone who knew the old ways of framing what he called "a saw mill shack." Listening to this man gave Lane some of the stories that became Rob's experiences. In the end Rob emerged with a life and voice of his own and became charged with Lane's own experiences in the mountains.
"Like Langston Hughes' Simple and Jim Wayne Miller's Briar, John Lane's Old Rob both stands for a time and a place and embodies its character. He points to the 'past inside the present' that Walker Evans talks about; but he also sees the future coming down the tracks." Sebastian Matthews.