NYT Book Review : ‘Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax’

Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax,’ by Michael N. McGregor

By JAMES CAMPBELL

Robert Lax, 1986. Photo credit: Nancy Goldring

To describe Robert Lax as a minimalist poet does scant justice to the reedlike shape of his “vertical” poems. A typical page in his most comprehensive book, “Poems (1962-1997),” might contain 20 words arranged in columnar form, a single syllable or punctuation mark to each line. One poem consists of “ro / ber / to” — the name Lax was often called in his adopted country, Greece — repeated three times, followed by “cries / the / roos / ter” with the final pair of syllables again thrice repeated.

This can be curiously beguiling, over a brief period, but Lax’s poetry has little of the visual playfulness or verbal ingenuity of like-minded members of that broad church known as concrete poetry, like Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Scottish poet and artist with whom Lax corresponded.

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‘Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax,’ by Michael N. McGregor By JAMES CAMPBELLDEC. 24, 2015 To describe Robert Lax as a minimalist poet does scant justice to the reedlike shape of his “vertical” poems. A typical page in his … Full Story

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“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

On this date 74 years ago, December 7th, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor.  While the United States was not yet a part of World War II, this was the event that President Franklin D. Roosevelt needed to enter the United States into the Second Great War.  Over 2,300 American servicemen lost their lives in this attack fighting for our country’s safety and freedom.  We remember them today.

We remember them in our hearts and minds as we think of their bravery as they endured those horrific attacks on our nation.  We remember those who fought in World War II and those who sacrificed everything to provide for our American citizens.  We remember them through learning more about the battles in which they fought and educating ourselves to prevent similar things from happening again.

In Letters to Lee: From Pearl Harbor to the War’s Final Mission, Lt. General James V. Edmundson writes personal accounts of different events during World War II through letters with his wife, Lee.  His daughter, Celia, compiled the letters and created this book.

This very personal story is told through chronological vignettes, letters, newspaper and magazine articles of the period. The vignettes were written in 2000 – the letters begin in 1939 in the beautiful Territory of Hawaii. The two are interwoven and provide incredible descriptions and detail of the conditions both before and after the U.S. entry into the War; of the early fighting in the South Pacific; of the highly secret development and implementation of the Superfortress, which ultimately brought an end to Japan’s war against the United States; and of the China-Burma-India Theater, as the war accelerates and the last mission is flown.

Take the time to remember these heroes who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor and learn more about the causes for which they fought.  Check out Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War, A Pact with Vichy: Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration, and the rest of Fordham Press’ World War II series.

On this date 74 years ago, December 7th, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. While the United Sates was not yet a part of World War II, this was the event that President Franklin D. Roosevelt needed to enter the United States into the Second Great War. Over 2,300 American servicemen lost their lives in this attack fighting for our country’s safety and freedom. We remember them today. Full Story

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The Hidden and the Tangible

By Michael McGregor, author of Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax
Reposted from bookscombined.com 

 Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 19.50.10

I don’t know when I first put spiritual and quest together. In my childhood church the word spiritual was seldom used, so I never thought about it. It took on meaning when I heard it spoken in the plural, applied to moving songs by enslaved people. It still bears that soul-deep sound for me, the suffering and longing for freedom.

Quest, I’m sure, came first through knights and Argonauts, the tales and myths of boyhood. While spiritual sounds softer, more ethereal, quest suggests a hardy physical journey, a dauntless searching through the material world. It’s the joining of these elements—the soft and hard, the hidden and the tangible—that gives the term spiritual quest a holistic feel, a sense that it involves one’s whole being.

I was well into writing my biography of poet Robert Lax  before I realized that it was the story of a spiritual quest. This realization got me thinking about the books that influenced me when I was young, most of which, I found, had spiritual quests at their core.

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By Michael McGregor, author of Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax Reposted from bookscombined.com    I don’t know when I first put spiritual and quest together. In my childhood church the word spiritual was seldom used, so I never thought about it. It took … Full Story

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Devika Chawla: Award-Winning Author

Devika Chawla, Associate Professor in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University, is being recognized for her book, Home Uprooted: Oral Histories of India’s
Partition.

This book “present[s] a perspective of the middle-class refugees who were forced from their homes, jobs, and lives with the withdrawal of British rule in India. Home, Uprooted delves into the lives of forty-five Partition refugees and their descendants to show how this epochal event continues to shape their lives.”

“Home, Uprooted melds oral histories with a fresh perspective on current literature to unravel the emergent conceptual nexus of home, travel, and identity in the stories of the participants. [...] These stories reveal how migrations are enacted and what home—in its sense, absence, and presence—can mean for displaced populations.”

For her work on Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India’s Partition, Chawla was presented with the 2015 Outstanding Book Award from the International and Intercultural Communication Division (IICD) of the National Communication Association (NCA), as well as the 2015 NCA Ethnography Division Best Book Award, on November 21st.

We at Fordham Press would like to congratulate Devika Chawla on her hard work and dedication to her passions.  We are proud to have you as part of our Fordham Press family.

For her work on Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India’s Partition, Chawla was presented with the 2015 Outstanding Book Award from the International and Intercultural Communication Division (IICD) of the National Communication Association (NCA), as well as the 2015 NCA Ethnography Division Best Book Award, on November 21st. Full Story

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“Kissing Bugs”: Not as Sweet as They Sound

What are known as “kissing bugs” may sound sweet, but these insects are known to carry a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the cause of Chagas disease. Mary Elizabeth Dallas of HealthDay News notes that a recent study found that of these West Texas insects, as many as 61% were carrying the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite. Read the full article here.

François Delaporte, author of Chagas Disease: History of a Continent’s Scourge, traces discoveries, dead ends, and epistemic shifts that have marked the early history of what will become one of Latin America’s most serious endemic diseases. Delaporte’s study shows how an epistemological focus can add depth to the history of medicine and complexity to accounts of scientific discovery.

Through his skillful dissection, he shows how complicated its discovery actually was and offers wonderful insights into the international dimensions of Brazilian medical science in the early twentieth century. –William Bynum, Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine, University College London

The strength of the study is the exhaustive discussion of the scientific literature, the subtle examination of fundamental shifts in conceptual frameworks, and the unrelenting interrogation of the crucial role that chance and error play in scientific research. –Carlo Caduff, King’s College, London

Visit Fordham Press’s website to learn more about this book and other related titles.

François Delaporte, author of Chagas Disease: History of a Continent’s Scourge, traces the discoveries, dead ends, and epistemic shifts that have marked the early history of what will become one of Latin America’s most serious endemic diseases. Full Story

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