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The Beat: Hank Lazer
29th November 2023 • Knox Pods • Knox County Public Library
00:00:00 00:08:40

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Hank Lazer has published thirty-four books of poetry; his latest books are P I E C E S, When the Time Comes, and field recordings   of mind   in morning. In 2014, he retired from the University of Alabama after 37 years as a professor and an administrator. He continues to teach innovative seminars on Zen Buddhism and Radical Approaches to the Arts for the University’s Blount Scholars Program. In 2015, Lazer won The Harper Lee Award, Alabama’s highest literary award for lifetime achievement.

Links

Read "Duncan Farm November Meditation" and section 8 from The New Spirit

Hank Lazer's website

Recordings at PennSound

Interview on Bookmark with Don Noble

Eleven poems at Plume

Five poems at Interim

"'Furnishings in the House of the Voice': An Interview with Hank Lazer

by Lisa Russ Spaar"

Mentioned in this episode:

KnoxCountyLibrary.org

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Transcripts

Alan May:

Welcome to The Beat, Knox County Public Library’s poetry podcast. Today, we’ll hear Hank Lazer read two poems, “Duncan Farm November Meditation” and “The New Spirit, Section 8.”

Hank Lazer:

"Duncan Farm November Meditation"

1

what died with father

what died with mother

there was more i wanted to know

say again the names of distant places

russia lithuania ukraine

harbin yokohama san jose

tell it all now

invisible as you are

there was more

i wanted to hear

you are not your body

you are not your mind

who were you

& where do we come from

2

one by one

they go away

mystery repeats itself

the equal loneliness

of each soul

here & there

3

small dance of wind

from cedar to oak

mind & its own instants

this

is called thinking

sometimes

at play sometimes

answering to

an invisible

summoning

small dance of wind

beginning

with a distant

pine

4

wild wildly disordered as it happens clouds moment twisted

disappearing chronology of a human life ample in complexity

beyond any telling of it

why not a tree’s or a dog’s experience of time

what lies beyond the limits of our attention

sit with eyes open wide

5

who is with you

from all that was

6

piety kept quiet

& the clouds were revelation

this

is where it all appears

because

nothing in the whole world

is hidden

later that night he found

skunks

in the hay barn

yes

turn the light inward

7

he had the fire then & hardly anyone noticed that is the

nature of this exacting path so as you go it will shape you

as needed along the way self-pity & disappointment burn

away

hold the ember dear it is the given gem

8

farm at night

thin line

of dim light

along the horizon

like the implicit

gap between

blocks of color

in a Rothko painting

my oldest boykin Walt

buried nearby up the way

this morning halfway

up the hillside

just beyond

the cedar tree i find

a large silver wrench

some words

have nothing to do

with our five

or six senses

9

in & out of morning

clouds

i sit in the cross-hairs

of the window pane

10

his joy

was more than others

could accept

so too his sorrow

soon

it

will be light

each

has an instrument

idiosyncratic

played

or simply listened to

be still

& listen

Section 8 from the book The New Spirit

(in transit)

three little words teshuvah turn toward you no more

dramatic than this car moving in & out of

shadows i love you & i have chosen wrong

live with it three little words when the saints

when something great bags & trane in that number

turn & turn felt a sharp turn at 49

*

son at sea lab cut the squid open found

the ink sac

slowly we learn to work alone

& with each other

three little words

baruch atab

adonai

love what is

& where you are

take

dictation

or quit altogether

user pays connection fee

drove

south thinking about this or that lush southern sound

*

gateway i’m here shma yisroel adonai three word suite

hear o israel versus nervous be-bop soul attentive to

its own amusements play it loud lord our god

through whatever horn breathe & shape heavenly blue legacy

golden fall light drove me down the river delta

ghostly sax tilted back succession then when the saints

Alan May:

You just heard Hank Lazer read “Duncan Farm November Meditation” and “The New Spirit, Section 8.” He was kind enough to record these poems for us at his home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Hank Lazer has published thirty-four books of poetry; his latest books are P I E C E S, When the Time Comes, and field recordings of mind in morning. In 2014, he retired from the University of Alabama after 37 years as a professor and an administrator. He continues to teach innovative seminars on Zen Buddhism and Radical Approaches to the Arts for the Blount Scholars Program. In 2015, Lazer won The Harper Lee Award, Alabama’s highest literary award for lifetime achievement. You can find Hank Lazer’s latest book, P I E C E S, in our online catalog. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.