A great crowd of Lax fans and other poetry lovers showed up at Poets House in NYC on November 30 to listen to biographer Michael N. McGregor and poets John Beer and Stacey Tran read and talk about his work. Now, Poets House has made the entire evening available for free on their website. Just click here and scroll down to “Related Audio.”
You’ll hear presentations on Lax’s life and development as a poet, the rhythms and musicality in his work, and similarities between his approach and those of artists in other media. The recording includes discussion among the panel members and their answers to audience questions too.
If you’re going to be anywhere near New York City at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 30 (Lax’s 103rd birthday), come on down to Poets House at 10 River Terrace for an evening of talks and readings by poet and former Lax literary assistant John Beer, poet Stacey Tran, and Michael N. McGregor. For a mere $10 ($7 for students and seniors; free for Poets House members), you can hear Lax’s poetry as well as stories about him. (His niece and literary executor Marcia Kelly will be in attendance too.)
It should be a grand celebration!
The Crossing’s concert of The Arc in the Sky, Composer Kile Smith‘s 65-minute musical composition using Lax’s poetry and prose, will be on broadcast online at WRTI.org at 4-6 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Oct 28. The show will probably not be archived, so you’ll have to listen while it’s streaming. You’ll find more information about the broadcast at:
For more about the concert itself, go to:
Composer Kile Smith, whose spiritually-inspired work has been praised by publications from the Philadelphia Inquirer to the Miami Herald to the Boston Classical Review, spent much of the past year working on a new composition featuring poems and other writings by Robert Lax. The work, called “The Arc in the Sky,” will premiere as part of the “Month of the Moderns” at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia. For tickets or to learn more about the premiere, go to the website for The Crossing, which is sponsoring the show.
You’ll find a long write-up about the show’s origins and contents, as well as Smith’s thoughts on Lax’s work and some of the Lax poems featured in his composition, at Smith’s blog.
Composer Kile Smith
The Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State is hosting an exhibit dedicated to the creative works of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax. According to The Public, an alternative publication covering Western New York, “The exhibit materials include framed literary items—mostly poems—and photos, and vitrines containing some of their books and other published works.” You can read more of The Public‘s write-up about the show here.
The exhibit, titled “Merton & Lax: Image and Word,” is an expanded remounting of the Lax exhibit displayed at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University last year. Among its highlights are rarely-seen issues of Pax, the limited-circulation broadsheet Lax produced in the 1950s and 1960s with poems by friends such as Merton, Jack Kerouac, Mark Van Doren, and E.E. Cummings, and illustrations by painter Ad Reinhardt and graphic artist and publisher Emil Antonucci.
The exhibit, which runs through August 26, is curated by Anthony Bannon, two-time director of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, and Paul Spaeth, Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian at St. Bonaventure University, who is also the curator of the Thomas Merton and Robert Lax Archives at St. Bonaventure. For more information, see the exhibit posting on the Burchfield Penney website.
Rumors and half-reports have been coming in for months, but it seems to be a sure thing now: This November, New Directions will be publishing a new edition of Robert Lax’s 33 Poems.
At least one celebration is in the works. Check back in coming weeks for more information.
I just learned that my keynote address at the International Thomas Merton Society conference at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) this Friday, June 16, will be live-streamed. The talk is titled “Harpo and the Clown of God: The Seven-Storied Friendship of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax.”
The other keynotes–by Scott Russell Sanders, M. Shawn Copeland, and Luke Timothy Johnson–will be live-streamed too.
To tune in, go to http://merton.org/2017/default.aspx#stream when it’s time for the talk and look for the blue box (where you’ll find the schedule too):
The 2017 International Thomas Merton Society Conference is coming up next week, June 15-18. Because it is being held at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY, Robert Lax’s hometown, it will feature a number of presentations on Lax, including my keynote address, “Harpo and the Clown of God: The Seven-Storied Friendship of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax.”
The other keynote speakers will be: M. Shawn Copeland, Luke Timothy Johnson, and Scott Russell Sanders.
The other Lax features will be:
- a general session titled “Robert Lax: In His Own Words.”
- a showing of the Nicolas Humbert/Werner Penzel film “Why Should I Buy a Bed When All That I Want Is Sleep?” featuring a look at Lax in his Patmos home and reading his poetry.
- Lax’s Psalm with spoken word, dance and piano by Christine Bachich and Jacqueline Chew
Click here for registration information and here for a full list of conference presentations.
If you live in or near Boston, I hope you’ll come out to 279 Harvard St. in Brookline this coming Thursday, May 18, for a 7 p.m. reading at Brookline Booksmith bookstore. The new paperback version of Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax will be for sale at the reading.