Teaching Poetry and American Art

The image here—of a Lax experiment—is from an interesting website called Teaching Poetry and American Art. According to the site’s introduction, it is meant to “help students interpret the author’s and artist’s purpose, while teaching them to create images from words and use words to create images.If you click on the link above, it will take you to the Lax page, where you’ll find a couple images of his work, along with links to some of his friends and contemporaries, such as Mary Ellen Solt, Emmett Williams, and William “Bill” Burford. The site is maintained by William Plashke.

Note: This post was originally part of the most recent Lax Newsletter. To receive the latest Lax information, news, and writings, sign up for the newsletter here.

Short New Video about Robert Lax and the Circus

This past spring, Cirkus Cirkör, the Swedish circus company that co-produced Philip Glass’s new opera, “Circus Days and Nights,” based on Robert Lax’s circus poems, asked me to be help with a video introducing Lax to its audience. The video won’t be released until dates for the opera’s upcoming world tour are ready to be announced, but Cirkus Cirkör has given me permission to give Lax fans a sneak peak.

To watch the video, click here.

The First German Translation of Lax’s 33 Poems Is Now Available!

Sprachichter Verlag has just released the first German translation of one of the best collections of Robert lax poems, 33 Poems (33 Gedichte). This first edition is limited to 100 hardcover copies. Sprachlichter will publish a second edition in 2022.

To read more about the book (in German) or purchase a copy, click here.

Note from MNM: I’m pleased to be listed as a contributing editor for the book. My German isn’t terribly good but I speak fluent Lax and was able to help improve the translations.

Alone on Patmos: My First Self-Isolation Experience, 35 Years Ago

The Skala harbor on Patmos (© Michael N. McGregor)

It was on this date, March 25–Greek Independence Day–that I left Patmos after meeting Robert Lax for the first time 35 years ago. I had been on the island for most of two months, the first month (before meeting Lax) all alone, thousands of miles from home. It was that time alone–that self-isolation–that set up the meeting to come and all that followed from it.

To read what it was like to be alone on Patmos in winter in 1985 and how it prepared me for the blessing of meeting Lax, go to my personal blog, where I’ve just posted a description of the experience: https://michaelnmcgregor.com/blog/

Audio of Nov. 30 Lax Celebration at Poets House Available Free Online

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.

Reminder: A Celebration of Robert Lax At Poets House in NYC–7 p.m., Friday, November 30

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!

Free One-Hour Podcast of A Celebration of Robert Lax

Late Night Library interview--12-9-15

Late Night Library’s Paul Martone (left) interviews Robert Lax biographer Michael N. McGregor (center) and former Lax literary assistant and poet John Beer (right) for an LNL podcast.

On December 9, 2015, Oregon Literary Arts hosted A Celebration of Robert Lax to mark the poet’s 100th birthday.  At the event, Michael N. McGregor gave an introduction to Lax’s life and work and then read selections from his biography Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax.  Poet John Beer followed this with a marvelous reading of Lax’s later poems from the Beer-edited collection poems (1962-1997) by Robert Lax.  The evening concluded with Late Night Library founder Paul Martone interviewing McGregor and Lax on their friendship with Lax, his approach to life, and his writing.

The entire evening was recorded and is available for free as a Late Night Library podcast.  You can listen to it here.  It is one of the best audio introductions to Lax and his work.

February 11 & 16: Robert Lax Readings at City Lights in SF and Pegasus Books in Berkeley

The life and poetry of Robert Lax will be be featured at two events in California’s Bay Area in February.  On February 11, Michael N. McGregor, John Beer and S. T. Georgiou will talk about their friendship with Lax and read from works by and about him at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s famed City Light Books.

The evening is a celebration of McGregor’s new biography Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax as well as two recent Lax collections: In the Beginning Was Love: Contemplative Words of Robert Lax, edited by Georgiou, and new poems (1962-1997), edited by Beer.  This is a rare opportunity to hear three of Lax’s friends talk about his life and the time they spent with him in Greece.

Five days later, on February 16, McGregor will do a solo reading from Pure Act at Pegasus Books in Berkeley.

Here are the details:

Thursday, February 11, 2016–7 p.m.–A Celebration of Robert Lax, with biographer Michael N. McGregor, poet John Beer, and author S. T. Georgiou, City Lights Books, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, February 16, 2016–7:30 p.m.–Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA