This Monday marks the return of Crescent City Books' Black Widow Salon hosted by Michael Zell. At 7:00 PM, join poet, publisher and author of the newly released Memory Wing, Bill Lavender
as he reads from and discusses this work.
The Black Widow Salon, sponsored by Joe Phillips and Susan Wood of Black Widow Press and hosted by Michael Allen Zell, is a monthly Monday event, existing to dig deeper into the literary arts. November 14th: Bill Lavender. December 5th: Josephine Sacabo. Crescent City Books at 230 Chartres St. from 7-9 p.m. Seating is limited. RSVP’s preferred. More information at crescentcitybooks.com
A memoir in verse that explores the outer reaches of truth: of memory, language and art. Loosely based on the tripartite structure of The Divine Comedy, this poem appears as a simple memoir in lyrical and immediately accessible language, yet it works by accumulation to question the very fact of memory and the foundations of truth and identity. This is a poem that reads as easily as a memoir but which is as dense with allusion as one of The Cantos. As Andrei Codrescu has said of it: "This is a grand American long poem Doc Williams would be proud of."
Advance comments on Memory Wing:
Delving with brilliant image precision into the power of the past, and chanting in plain lyric to the ghosts of his mother and father & the futurity of his sons, Bill Lavender takes us back, down, deep into a psychological Arkansas and New Orleans that resonate with Dante's three part journey. In the vast field of felt memory, he guides us into subtle territories of torment, recognition and reconciliation that are Lavender's contemporary equivalents of Dante's inferno, purgatory and paradise. Bill Lavender's Memory Wing is a contemporary autobiographical masterpiece.
The poet's mother lives, dies in an Alzheimer's wing. The poet takes wing, remembering more because his mother remembers so little. He takes his past-and some of hers-under his wing. There is no waiting in the wings here; everything's laid out on memory's stage, surreal as the Roman memory exercises ordained. The poet may be left wing, but he steps out from under the wing of Arkansas, Blake-like tragedy, and Dante, into the elegiac present, where parents cede to children and in all their dreams come responsibilities and their evasions. The OED's 12th definition best defines wing as "part of a spectral line where the intensity tails off to nothing at either side of it," but that fails to describe the utter intensity of the flight between points in Lavender's book. This non-fiction epic poem flies through past, present, and hallucinated futures at the speed of unpunctuated sound.
-Susan M. Schultz
What a grand concerto! Read this epic eulogy and weep! Lavender is a resplendent Virgil traversing the woods of his memory, which coincides at unexpected places with our own. I'm happy to see the terse minimal suitcase of his lyrical self unpacked and overflowing. This is a grand American long poem Doc Williams would be proud of.
Bill Lavender shifts language in rare combinations that unsettle the reader. Memory Wing is no different except that it takes a lifetime to inhabit, but lets us dip into that proper distance between knowing and learning where we hold down our own memories for comparison and where we sit in the same tragedy and splendor….
Bill Lavender is a poet, editor, and teacher living in New Orleans. He is the publisher of Lavender Ink, a small press devoted to contemporary poetry, and he is Managing Editor of UNO Press at the University of New Orleans. Besides his dozen books published to date his poems have appeared in numerous print and web journals and anthologies, and his essays and theoretical writings have been published in Contemporary Literature andPoetics Today, among many others.
Coming in November 2011
219 pages $19.95