Saturday, June 14, 2008

My first acquaintance with Patrick Lawler

This was originally posted 06/07/2006. I think that if a blog is worth reading again years later, then it was a good idea to do it the first time. I will try in these old and new blogs to only post things that are worth returning to.

I do not think that I met Patrick Lawler until AWP 2005, which was in Vancouver, and Many Mountains Moving, Inc. was still working on his book, Feeding the Fear of the Earth, at the time, and the process had been taking longer than anyone at MMM had imagined. Nonetheless, Patrick was more than patient; he was extraordinarily open-minded and willing to talk about the ultimate shape of the book.

I found it to be an extraordinarily poignant, politically provocative and personally challenging book. Susan Terris, the MMM Book Contest judge, called it "outrageously original," and I was compelled to agree more and more as I understood the depths of the style. I was impressed by how he wrote so felicitously and beautifully about the environment, torture, urban decay, our political/moral obliviousness, our deeply ingrained (little-discussed) somewhat schizoid national melancholia about money, fame and narcissism, and so much else....

Damn, the last time I'd read a book with that kind of scope, it was, swear to God, A Cony Island of the Mind.

Even better, Patrick turned out to be great to work with, and for that I was very grateful. Better yet, he introduced us to some other wonderful writers, Linda Pennisi and George Kalamaras, and he turned out to be a great reader of his own poems and a very entertaining presenter of his thoughts on, for example, Surrealism. He was even a sort of a cause célèbre at AWP 2006 in Austin when he talked about Surrealism. (I have also seen a DVD of his April 27, 2006 reading at LeMoyne College, and it was just stunning.)

It was a blast to have him and his book there on the table at the AWP Bookfair in Austin for Many Mountains Moving.

Though it took a while to work out all the design elements of the book, we are all very proud of it. Getting to know Patrick's work and Patrick himself have been very inspiring gifts.

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