Poems (1962-1997)

Overview

"One of the great original voices of our times—a pilgrim in search of beautiful innocence."—Jack Kerouac

"Robert Lax's poems [prove] yet again that the gift to be simple is the gift to be free, that less is more, and that least may sometimes be most."—John Ashbery

Poems (1962–1997) gathers thirty-five years of Robert Lax's work, rarely published and largely composed in solitude on the island of Patmos. Compiled and edited by the poet's former assistant John Beer, this selection reflects—through meditative ...

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Overview

"One of the great original voices of our times—a pilgrim in search of beautiful innocence."—Jack Kerouac

"Robert Lax's poems [prove] yet again that the gift to be simple is the gift to be free, that less is more, and that least may sometimes be most."—John Ashbery

Poems (1962–1997) gathers thirty-five years of Robert Lax's work, rarely published and largely composed in solitude on the island of Patmos. Compiled and edited by the poet's former assistant John Beer, this selection reflects—through meditative sequences in striking vertical columns—Lax's rigorous attention to the world around him and his relentless aspiration to new ways of writing.

love &
death

are blood
& bone

love &
death

are bread
& stone

love &
death
are rose
& thorn

(love &
death

are sheep
& shorn)

Robert Lax (1915–2000) published dozens of volumes of poetry and prose with small presses and worked as an editor for the New Yorker, Jubilee, and PAX. From 1962 to the end of his life, he made his home in the Greek islands.

John Beer is the author of The Waste Land and Other Poems (Canarium, 2010), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. For two years in the late 1990s, he served as literary assistant to Robert Lax. He currently lives and teaches in Oregon.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
09/01/2013
Lax (1915–2000) was an American poet who lived much of his adult life in Greece. He was familiar only to those who kept up with concrete poetry but virtually unknown to a wider audience, apart from his longtime friendship with Catholic monk Thomas Merton. Given their simple word choices, heavy use of repetition, and creative deployment of white space, Lax's poems might be categorized as simply minimalist, but there's more at work here than brevity—"for/ what// fol-/ low-/ 'd// prais-/ ing/ this/ mo-/ ment// with/ all// of/ his/ heart// gave/ him/ heart/ gave/ him// heart// for/ what// fol-/ low-/ 'd." Editor Beer (Portland State Univ.; The Waste Land and Other Poems) notes that an insistent lyricism permeates Lax's poetry, one in which silence plays a role similar to the musical rest. Lax's spirituality is reflected in the way his poetry resembles a devotional recitation, almost a form of chanting. In the end, the words evaporate, leaving only a melody readers will be helpless not to hum. VERDICT A necessary read for poets and archaeologists, who delight in finding treasures that others have ignored.—Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933517803
  • Publisher: Wave Books
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Lax (1915-2000) published dozens of volumes of poetry and prose journals with small presses in Europe and the United States, as well as A Catch of Anti-Letters, correspondence with his lifelong friend Thomas Merton. Educated at Columbia University, he worked as an editor for The New Yorker, Jubilee, and PAX. From 1962 to the end of his life, he made his home in the Greek islands, first Kalymnos and ultimately Patmos.

John Beer is the author of The Waste Land and Other Poems (Canarium, 2010), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos for two years in the late 1990s, where he served as literary assistant to Robert Lax. He currently teaches creative writing at Portland State University; previously, he reviewed theater for Time Out Chicago.

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