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Treehouse Reading Series: Hank Lazar and Douglas Pierre Baulos

  • Vestavia Hills Public Library 1221 Montgomery Highway Vestavia Hills, AL, 35216 United States (map)

HANK LAZER has published twenty-three books of poetry, including Poems Hidden in Plain View (2016, in English and in French), Brush Mind: At Hand (GreencupBooks, 2016), N24 (Little Red Leaves / Textile Series, 2014), N18 (complete)(Singing Horse Press, 2012), Portions (Lavender Ink, 2009), The New Spirit (Singing Horse, 2005), Elegies & Vacations (Salt, 2004), and Days (Lavender Ink, 2002). Selected Poems and Essays of Hank Lazer, completed by a group of translators and with a Preface by Nie Zhenzao, was published by Central China Normal University Press in 2015. Lazer’s Selected Poems have also been published in Italy (Pensando Cantando: Poesie Scelte di Hank Lazer, QuiEdit, 2015, translated by Anny Ballardini) and will be appearing shortly in Cuba (Pensando Cantando, Torre de letras, translated by Omar Pérez). In 2011, in collaboration with visual artists from the Taller Experimental de Gráfica in Havana and the University of Alabama’s Book Arts program, Lazer published Indivisible, a fine press bilingual edition of handwritten shape poems. Pages from the notebooks have been performed with soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar, including performances at the University of Georgia (November 2013) and in Havana, Cuba (two concerts in January 2014). Over the past fifteen years, Lazer has collaborated with various jazz musicians, filmmakers, choreographers, and visual artists in seeking new ways to present poetry. In April 2015, Lazer was selected for the state of Alabama’s highest literary award, the Harper Lee Award, for a lifetime of achievement in literature. His books of criticism include Opposing Poetries (two volumes, 1996) and Lyric & Spirit: Selected Essays 1996-2008 (2008). Audio and video recordings of Lazer’s poetry and an interview for Art International Radio can be found at Lazer’s PennSound website. With co-editor Charles Bernstein, Lazer edits the Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series for the University of Alabama Press. To date, the MCP Series has published over 45 books, including work by Marjorie Perloff, Harryette Mullen, Jerome Rothenberg, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Brian Reed. In January 2014, Lazer retired from the University of Alabama (where he continues to teach innovative seminars for New College and the Blount Undergraduate Initiative) after 37 years in a variety of positions, including Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Executive Director of Creative Campus, and Professor of English.

DOUGLAS PIERRE BAULOS received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He regularly teaches workshops and lectures on his research in book arts, drawing and mixed media. In 2009 Baulos won the President’s Award For Excellence In Teaching at UAB. His current books are explorations (visual) and meditations (poetry) centering on his ideas of spirituality, love, death, shelter, and hope. Books, because of their exterior/interior format, as well as their sequential ordering, have been of particular interest lately. The book as an object allows the viewer to be guided through a thought process as well as evoking time and journey/text and image in an intimate fashion. Drawings are composed of myriad layers of media, ideas and associations. The process of piecing together an image is a meditative exercise, having as much to do with duration as physical texture or of following the thread of mindfulness. The abstraction of narrative is merged with the physicality of objects. As an artist Baulos wants to personify intangible experiences and feelings and make them tangible for an audience. There is an intimacy with the subject becoming object, with the reverence for the passed life and the confrontation of the doggedly present body. Retired objects (most recently dictionaries) and found papers are redeployed as agent of memory that can evoke and reflect on the history of private lives – worn and battered, certain found object evoke sympathy and empathy. Like a dog without a tail we notice an object or book’s history and pluck as survivor. Recently the work explores the idea of simultaneously linking the outside surface with inner experience, seeking to create books and sculptures that present themselves as humble objects that open into vast, imaginative space for the reader. By using discarded dictionaries (nests of birds) and transforming them into book sculptures, text and drawn images explode into an embodied narrative, a sculpture of our inner life.