In the fall of 1975, while a second-year undergraduate at the University of Virginia, I attempted to enroll in an introduction to poetry writing course being taught by a doctoral student named Hank Lazer. I went to the first class meeting and found some 40-plus eager students hoping to gain a spot in the 15-person workshop. At the front of the room sat our long-haired, handsome, almost beatific instructor, distributing questionnaires meant to assess our interest in the class. What kind of music stirred us? Did we engage with visual art? How? By whom? Who was our favorite philosopher? Why? What foods did we most enjoy?
A 19-year-old from New Jersey, I had never met anyone quite like Hank, fresh from California’s Stanford University, in his Earth Shoes, sipping apple juice. Nor had anyone had ever asked me about myself and my artistic and extra-literary inclinations in quite this way. I’m still not sure how I gained a spot in Hank’s class, though I thank whatever compelled me to erase “Bachmann Turner Overdrive” and replace BTO with Rachmaninoff, whose compositions, brought to life by Arthur Rubenstein, scratched out of the family stereo cabinet throughout my childhood in a way I suddenly felt invited to appreciate.
(109:38): MP3 Among the reel-to-reel tapes in PennSound's Robert Creeley archive, we found a phone log Bob had made of a day in the life, the life being lived at the time in Placitas, New Mexico, in the late 1960s (let's call it 1968, but exact date not known as yet), where Creeley was living his wife Bobbie Louise Hawkins and their children. The log captures everyday life, that great Creeley theme, from a daughter asking permission for sleep-over to a brief conversation about an overdue phone bill to a long chat with Bob's life-long friend photographer Elsa Dorfman. In an age of email, this time capsule gives a sense of the phone conversation as both a space of intimate exchange and quotidian commerce.
Daniel Morris's introduction to Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture is now on-line at the website Secular Culture and Ideas: Rething Jewish. Meanwhile, PennSound has recently upgraded it's vide0 of the "Secular Jewish Culture/ Radical Poetic Practice," which took place at the Center for Jewish History on September 21, 2004 (with Marjorie Perloff, Paul Auster, Stephen Paul Miller, Kathryne Hellerstein, Jerome Rothenberb, and me). More info on PennSound page for the event. (My essay for the collection is in Attack of the Difficult Poems.)