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N24 by Hank Lazer
N24 by Hank Lazer
Like Lazer's other notebook poems, these handwritten poems are discursive and poetic readings-as-renderings—this time, thinking & writing through of several works of Merleau-Ponty including The Prose of the World, The World of Perception, and Phenomenology of Perception.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hank Lazer has published seventeen books of poetry, including Portions (Lavender Ink, 2009), The New Spirit (Singing Horse, 2005), Elegies & Vacations (Salt, 2004), and Days (Lavender Ink, 2002). Lazer’s seventeenth book of poetry N18 (complete), a handwritten book, is available from Singing Horse Press: http://singinghorsepress.com/titles/n18/ . Pages from the notebooks have been performed with soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar. In 2008, Lyric & Spirit: Selected Essays, 1996-2008 was published by Omnidawn. Audio and video recordings of Lazer’s poetry and an interview for Art International Radio can be found at Lazer’s PennSound website: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Lazer.html.
From A note on the visual poetry of Whalen, Grenier, and Lazer
by NORMAN FISCHER
Hank Lazer’s shape poems ... are handwritten in notebooks, one poem to a page, in series. The notebook is the aesthetic unit here... The handwriting of Lazer’s shape poems is not particularly elegant... nor does it emphasize... the emotional and visual primacy of letter and word. Using ordinary ballpoint pen (note that in later notebooks Lazer too uses a fine point instrument), Lazer’s hand isn’t particularly distinguished one way or the other. Just words written in an ordinary way, the writing somewhat chunky, not flowing. Their distinction comes in the shapes they trace on the page — spirals, squares, circles, various complex irregular forms. The twenty or so notebooks I am aware of begin with fairly ordinary stanzaic shapes on the page and evolve as they go into these more elaborate shapes, each page unique. ... Lazer’s words are discursive and poetic. In the course of the twenty notebooks he is reading through Heidegger’s Being and Time, and, later, several works by Emmanuel Levinas, and the words in the poems play off and dart in and out of citations from these works. The tone is philosophical and ruminative, a record, from inside language, of a person’s thinking, about words, in words, in and about time, space, life, death — not thinking’s products but thinking itself as process. The poems are improvisational and immediate — the form allows for no revision. In fact improvisation — its delightful freedom, playfulness, even joy — is characteristic of all three of these poets’ visual work.
What is interesting and sustaining for me about the possibility of writing is that one could live in the intimate midst of words as such — as thinking in a shape, feeling, and form — as being in the world that’s illuminated through human mind and language, simply dwelling there with all the wonder and serenity that that dwelling brings. This seems to me to be the case with any writing that I find truly worthwhile, and the more you appreciate this the clearer it is that its pleasures come fullest at the level of the word in hand and eye and mind — as you find in these works.