Robert Lax

Robert Lax was born in 1915 in Olean, New York. At Columbia University he studied with Mark van Doren and there began friendships with classmate and poet Thomas Merton, and painter Ad Reinhardt. After Columbia he worked as a university lecturer, film critic, script writer, and an editor for The New Yorker. Through the 50s, he traveled in Europe as a “roving editor” for Jubilee, a Catholic magazine, and PAX, while contributing to various anthologies and magazines. In 1962 he moved to the Greek islands, where he lived until his death in 2000.

33 Poems

Poetry by Robert Lax

The American poet Robert Lax belongs to the generation of Thomas Merton, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionism, and the compositions of John Cage. Yet he stands out as this era’s most intriguing minimalist poet, gaining this reputation through a constant questioning of the universe and our idea about it. His poetry varies from fables and parables to clear-cut columns of words, from his account of a day at the circus as a vision of creation to his own insistent and mystical search for truth.…
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Hermit's Guide to Home Economics

Poetry by Robert Lax

A Hermit’s Guide to Home Economics combines three long poems Robert Lax composed on the Island of Patmos, where he lived apart from the world. Lax writes humorously about his “hermit” life, as if he were King Solomon doing a stand-up routine. But he also writes like a mystic whose surroundings speak to him, and he uses the whole field of the page to explore the full potential of the word as image and the poet as citizen.…
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He’s good, isn’t he!
—Samuel Beckett
To the best of my knowledge, a saint is simply all the things that he is. If you placed him among the Old Testament figures above the south portal of Chartres, he wouldn’t look odd. His poems are sleight-of-hand demonstrations. I don’t know any religious writing that moves me as much or is as persuasive as the prose communication with the unseen, unknown, unanswering but felt fountain-source of his belief.
—William Maxwell
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