by Hank Lazer. 230 pages. 2002. Lavender Ink. 3216 St. Philip Street, New Orleans, LA 70119.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
Days is poetry, poems of ten lines, a form of day-book that fuses poetry as art, the manipulation of words as material in a field of writing, and that other purpose of words, words in the old friendly fashion, whose purpose is to engage events, feelings and the swapping of information about joy, sadness and, as literary people do, there is then at various times the telling of literary admiration. Here, in these poems, homage is paid to John Taggert, Louis Zukovsky, Duncan and Hank’s friends and fellow artists, like Yunte Huang and Jake Berry. Lazer blends the purposes of poetry and the ISMs of various camps and forges a series of poems that is both fun to read with the heart and with the mind. This is no easy exercise in these days of thick lines between the many classes of poetry. I am pleased to have read this book - not at one sitting - but several - and I found myself after a night’s reading getting up in the AM and with coffee, after making pancakes, well? should I pickup Kenneth Rexroth’s article on the Beats or G. Legman’s The Fake Revolt. No non no. I wanted more Days and I was sad when my reading was finished. I went back and found things I would incorporate in my own scribbles and things I would lift for myself like the courage to twist and turn words - within poem - that is use the poem as a spot in which to experiment and not just as a show place for polished tricks. I like Hank Lazer’s endless world play like: shape the cake, form the farm, and instead of Ezra Pound’s Pisian Cantos, Lazer has: peas&cannedtoes. Yes - all of the above and humor also! And I even found a most usable quote and law in Lazer’s last words, in his notes to Days. They were words I so wanted to write after reading them. He writes “? I hope (I) kept the writing wrong enough to stay fresh.”