Doublespace: Poems 1971-1989
by Hank Lazer
192 pages / paper / ISBN 0-937-804-44-4 ( 6 x 9" ) $12.00
Doublespace is a noble attempt to bridge the chasm between language poetry and the traditional anecdotal and meditative poetry of the "free form mode". Lazer stands between the two antagonists like a Hercules carrying both on his shoulders adjacent to one another, seeking through contact with both the possibility of creating a language that both may be able to draw upon, each for its own purpose. Or is he trying to say that each has its place in the armory of the modern, each with its own means of communication. There is no question that each mode has its work to do: free form to keep the surface of life familiar yet resonant and Language poetry to uncover through indirection via rejection of the familiar surface to win a whole new perspective on life and its surface, which then will cause new thinking and doing closer to contemporary fragmented and outworn culture. Hank Lazer has taken upon himself in his book Doublespace to bring the division boldly into the open, with the two modes printed side by side under one cover. If we are to continue to debate the issue, this then that Lazer has done is what is needed. It comes at a moment of historic change in the cultures and social arrangements throughout the world.
Susan Howe on Doublespace:
Doublespace is about discontinuity, duration, and the dynamics of interruption. In fact no frame can cover the eternal conflict of freedom and necessity. No frame is possible. Words return to rooms of fables. Doublespace interrogates an author's final intentions for material production. Lazer's writing returns to unsettle American cultural inheritance; our departures, abandonments, brushes with still life, holes in history. The founding act is a dream of beginning with a proper name. Blanks break up. Everyone counts assault. Later case histories at the locked gate are converted to fact. In the hang of telling time what won't follow. Doublespace is an important and eccentric book.
George Starbuck on Doublespace:
I was handed this as a finest, newest specimen of "Language" Poetry, which it is, which it is. And I had been wondering if "Languag" "Poetry" would be getting over its Molierian amazement at itself. And so I trudged, clambered, sauntered, stooped, for a long ways, tracking H Lazer's ingenuities and discoveries, a long way into it all before I woke up to where (and how) I had been taken.
What a lovely, capacious, populous poem of America surrounded me. Hailed me, corralled me, jargonned at me. Jazzy and matter of factly apocalyptic. I stood rebuked I stood entranced.
There is a city block in America which took down its children's slides. There are the small town treasure troves of lawbooks, repositories of a craziness second to none. Goldmine for a connoisseur of palavers. He counts among these lawyers some of his own go getter ancestors. The Law is his test case of the toomuchness all around.
He sees the glitter, he hears the guff. No need to hoke up an answering guff, on behalf of the beautiful, the good. It is, as is, rich, wonderful and sufficient.
The answer to the test is that he is not in it to score against bushwa and blague. He is showing us the ineluctable welter from which Justice is made and justice done.
His ear is quick and dab accurate, his dance sense superb. He can talk rings around rap, croon you gently and simply and melt your heart. His eye for stuff is right on. Even his eye for typos and misspellings: preternaturally au courant. He wings it without sardonic winks and sighs.
"I hope you follow that. " SO he says, ending a poem. Germane five ways and a joke on itself. And also, if you like, it addresses the Poets and the Future, and my guess is Yes: we follow. From now on, one of the small number of poets we follow is you.
David Antin on Doublespace:
Doublespace asks how to vouch for divergent writing practices: how to honor each without disavowing the other. Put as a problem of current literary history, Doublespace resists the inscription of American culture's segregation of writing communities. Doublespace includes poems published over a period of sixteen years in a wide ranae of maqazines, from Temblor and Central Park to the Virqinia Quarterly Review and Southern Review. Doublespace presents a text unique in American poetry.
A native of San Jose, California, Hank Lazer has taught for fourteen years in the English Department at the University of Alabama where he is Assistant Dean for Humanities and Fine Arts. Lazer is a noted critic of contemporary poetry. 1992 will also see the publication by Generator Press of Lazer's INTER(IR)RUPTIONS , a series of collage poems.
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