33 Poems

Robert Lax, 33 Poems, (Stuttgart: Staib & Mayer), 1988 edition.

Lax - 33 Poems
Having read a biography of Robert Lax, it just made sense to get inside of some of his poetry. I spent the entire season of Lent in this book. Six weeks of what appear on the surface to be remarkably simple poems. Far from simple, however, the poems, many of which have only one word, or sometimes even only part of a word, per line are a challenge to read out loud. Where does Lax intend the emphasis to fall? Some poems reminded me of contemporary rap, with the associated joy in the sound of words.

It was a meaningful discipline for Lent this year, however. I found the poems to be surprisingly spiritual in their deep appreciation for some of the simplest parts of life and the complex thoughts that are inspired by a very few words. Mindful of a professor under whom I once studied, who would write on my papers: "Eliminate half of the words and turn it back in." I'm no poet and I am used to generosity when it comes to the number of words in an essay. Lax presents a different, challenging and artful view of the word.

I'm keeping this volume to return to again and again.