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Hank Lazer has published 15 books of poetry, most recently Portions (Lavender Ink, 2009), The New Spirit (Singing Horse, 2005), Elegies & Vacations (Salt, 2004), and Days (Lavender Ink, 2002). He edits the Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series for the University of Alabama Press. His poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, Boston Review and Virginia Quarterly Review (which awarded him the Balch Prize in poetry). 

The New Spirit was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; Elegies & Vacations was nominated for the Forward Prize. Lazer has given readings and talks throughout the US and in China, the Canary Islands, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and France. Audio and video recordings-- including readings from Portions and an interview for Art International Radio – can be found at Lazer’s PennSound website here


For the past four years, he has been working on a handwritten shape-writing project called the Notebooks (of Being & Time). Lazer has collaborated with jazz musicians Tom Wolfe and Chris Kozak on some jazz and poetry improvisations, with outsider artist Pak on a series of poem-paintings, and with animation artist Janeann Dill on a poetry-video installation project. Currently, Lazer is working with book-artist Steve Miller and several Cuban book artists on a fine press bilingual selection from his Notebooks project.  


Lazer is Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Executive Director of the Creative Campus initiative at the University of Alabama. 



—for Arakawa & Madeline Gins


the words begin

as proper designations

to leave me


when to cleave

means to cling

to or cut


through   as they

had conjectured i

am become quite


blank    am built

& feel it

happen upon a


blank     event     place

image     engendered upon

a blank     of


& prior to

of     we will

use this fact



from where to

where on morning

air light simple


prayer consecutive with

consent to see

sit with hands


open palms upward

small invisible flame

in each sorrowing


call of stellar

jay child before

a mirror tries


on baggy coat

our language     red

tail hawk   wheels


upward    see into

i say riding

gesture of hands



i am after

passage plain &

simple across which


then from there

took off decidedly

somewhat different    case


of self differing

i am after

passage out as


they before me

borders & borderguards

i am passage


destination unfamiliar self

differing by landing

sites sensed the


odd patterns of

light     i am

after passage out



put me in

mind of    landing

site permeable to


sudden change    schooled

meaning milled or

sculpted   become something


of interest   put

me in mind

of    whoever says


so    from blank

to labyrinth   which

is itself essentially


blank    put me

in mind of

then norman had


us get up

(in mind of)

& walk around  



john dark angel

can it be

you the only


one i know

has this astringent

candor serious utterly


serious about business

of moving exactly

around a few


words john i

read where you

wrote where you


salute another as

“dark captain of

the fiery hunt


which i have

abandoned”   what then

will you do?




it is not

at all a

bad thing


that thought has

taken over being

one of several


circuitous ways home

odd time among

tall cement structures


not easy when

young to be

yourself that structure


exactly uncertain light

them & say

a blessing it


is blessèd to

stretch & breathe

with resolute care





copyright © Hank Lazer