In the summer of
1985 Tom Schaeper, a member of the History
at St. Bonaventure University, began a correspondence with
Robert Lax to ask if he would write a review for the
University’s arts journal.
The review was of a recent collection of
letters by Thomas Merton to his
Robert Lax (1915-2000) was born and died in Olean, NY, a small town
Bonaventure University in the southwest corner of the state.
Lax was as much a contemplative
as he was a poet. The hallmarks of
his style were simplicity of look & content, along with a
spirituality that tended towards humor. Though he was born & raised
in Olean, he
traveled extensively, and for over 35 years lived in the natural surroundings of the Greek
Islands of Kalymnos & Patmos. The
list of Lax's published writings, and works based on those
to well over 500 items, ranging from single poems, to pamphlets & books,
and includes graphic art, film, video, photography & performance art.
He has at times been better
known in Europe than America, and at least as
well known in art circles as he has been in literary
ones. His most
prominent U.S. publications have been 33 Poems (New Directions
Had a Compass (Grove 1996), A Thing That Is
(Overlook 1997) and Circus
Days & Nights (Overlook 2000).
Paul J. Spaeth
credit: Edith Feuerstein Schrot