Michael McGregor has published “Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax” — Read It!

3 Jun



As some of you will recall, back in 2012 I published on this blog a series of three oil paintings depicting the tiny Greek island of Patmos.  I was inspired to do the paintings by Michael McGregor’s short biographical piece on minimalist poet Robert Lax entitled A Gyroscope on the Island of Love which appeared in the Summer 2011 edition of Image quarterly.  Lax lived on Patmos and wrote his best poetry there.

Mr. McGregor has now published the long version of Lax’s biography, the book-length Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax.  See http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Act-Uncommon-Catholic-Practice/dp/0823268012.  Highly recommended!  Mr. McGregor has also set up a website devoted to Lax.  See http://www.RobertLax.com.

Lax, you may recall, achieved early note as the Columbia University friend of Thomas Merton, who went on to become the most famous Trappist monk in modern history.  The friendship between Merton and Lax is recounted in Merton’s autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain. In one of Seven Storey‘s most famous scenes Lax asks Merton what he wants to be and Merton says he wants to be a good Catholic.  “No,” Lax replies, “what you should say is that you want to be a saint.”

After Merton entered the monastery Lax left a promising New York publishing career (he was a friend of Jack Kerouac), dropped out and moved to Patmos where he lived among the poor fishermen and devoted the remainder of his life to poetry.  His long poem The Circus of the Sun is ranked among the greatest of the twentieth century and is discussed in the same sentence as T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland.







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