Lane began publishing himself and others in the 1960s when still leading a nomadic knockabout life in northern BC logging camps, small towns and mines, and his poetry has remained true to the ideals of brutal honesty and self-reliance. Important early collections were Letters from the Savage Mind (1966) and Separations (1969). There were also many chapbooks and broadsides published from wherever the poet happened to be at the moment and distributed to other poets. Such people constituted his primary readership until the publication by Oxford University Press of Poems New and Selected (1978, Governor General's Award).
Lane's poetry at its most characteristic deals straightforwardly, yet with lush descriptive imagery, with man's rough treatment of his environment and of his fellow human beings. Several of his books are illustrated with his own graphic works. Lane is the brother of the near-legendary poet Red Lane (1936-64) and he edited the Collected Poems of Red Lane (1968). In 1987 Poems Selected and New was published.