Lavender Ink

Lavender Ink is a small publisher of poetry and literary extravagance in New Orleans.

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Days, by Hank LazerTrembling Pillow Press


I of the Storm, by Bill Lavender

Trembling Pillow Press
ISBN 0-9790702-0-1
Paper- $10.00

Bookstores: Email for further information.

...abuzz with language or like a lake’s surface running at night with 6-inch waves.
Skip Fox

It's as if a Greek chorus had found its way into the mouth an everyman in the local bar of the mind, recounting the inner life of America from the assassination of Kennedy to catastrophe of Katrina.  I of the Storm is a talk poem of  the long dark night of the soul. Lavender's unrelenting colloquial yarn weaves a spell in breathlessly extended lines of vivid verse that refuse to give up, against all odds.  
Charles Bernstein

I of the Storm is Bill Lavender's brilliant personal aftermath mayhem of disconnected thought blowing off teh charts, all bubbling, frothy boards and nails and mental debris overflowing the body of poetry, which examines itself for signs of liife, while continuing to row through cold black water towards a solitary stranger stranded on a roof.
—Charles Borkhius

The Storm questioned every I with its devastating Eye and how this I met that gaze is the story we are all going to write for a long time to come. Bill Lavender's centrifuge spins his I in his own lyric and indispensible language.
Andrei Codrescu

Bill Lavender's poetry is at once in and on and from and for the current storms: Katrina, the Bush administration, the new bar on the block. A mongrel mix of juicy gossip and Slavoj Zizek, southern yarn and New York school irony, paranoia and anti-pastoral, rootedness and road trip, drunkenness and sheer sobriety. There could be no better I than Bill Lavender's to assimilate so much raw, often rank, detail. This is a crucial, home-made poetry of witness; miss it at your peril.
Susan M. Schultz

Expansive, autobiographical, philosophical, farcical, musical, utterly engaging, Bill Lavender proves in this book his kinship (great-grand-nephew?) with France's immortal Jacques Prevert. Makes one laugh and cry and sometimes both at the same time. A one-man chorale of invincible life, rising out of floods and exiles and returns.
Anselm Hollo



Lavender Ink

from I of the Storm


sometimes the poem is simply there when i write
with no more forethought than that the idea simply
coming when i sit down and begin to type or maybe
i should say that there is no idea there is only the poem
that is written and sometimes as it may surprise you
to know this one it might take weeks of getting ideas
or sort of dreaming about it during the day and trying
out a phrase or two and imagining visualizing i guess
you could say a certain structure a rational geometry
or a method or a goal or a music and yes it is right
to say here that i visualize a music and then i sit down
at night to write it after thinking about it all day
and i put down a word or two and realize i really
don't have anything that is going to get the poem going
nothing that is going to make it cross over that night
nothing is going to bring it to that level of reality that
for example this piece you are reading or hearing has
and it is very frustrating rather like fishing and thinking
you've got something on the line and it turns out to be
a stick or a clump of moss when you get it to the surface
and this may go on for weeks night after night until finally
one night when i sit down i do begin to type and the poem
begins to appear and once it begins in that way usually
i finish it though might go back and change a word
here and there or make some minor alteration generally
try to keep revision to a minimum what i do is try
not to think about it too much because too much
thinking is usually bad overall i've also found that
a little thinking and a little tinkering can be good
i don't know that i understand all the ramifications
of this wavering but as i said i try not
to think about it too much antin talks
about poetry and thinking as i recall
this is part of the rationale of improvisation but i am
thinking that antin too must go through some of what
i have described in terms of process that is he
must think about where he's going to go with the talk
in the days or hours or minutes before he begins
speaking but the difference is that he does not have
the option of silence once he gets up on the stage
he doesn't have the luxury that i have of putting off
the coming into being of the poem to another night
the thought is mildly terrifying to me but i can also
imagine how one might sharpen improvisational skills
especially with practice with reading and talking
and thinking about not just what one is going to say
but what one has said before and how that has worked
and not necessarily in terms of the ideas expressed
but the rhetorical level the grammar and vocabulary
the dialect and the ideolect of the talk and you might
know certain people in the audience and not know
others but know that they know the ones you know
and that would give you an idea of their vocabulary
their social and linguistic alignment and that would
allow you to begin to tune in to their wavelength
to be thinking about a topic and a direction for the talk
that is specific to this audience and situation and it
is well known of course that david often does research
before his talks so if you think about it this way it
doesn't seem dramatically different from writing
or at least the preparation for the poem would seem
to me to be much the same especially in terms of
the thinking that would get done and the rehearsal
the trying out of certain phrases either subvocalized
or even voiced perhaps in the shower or the car
and this may not be really what he is talking about
when he says the relation of poetry and thinking
but it is shall we say a possible path through the complex
of social acts that comprise the creation of a poem
there is more to the terrain than this
but for the moment we are on the path
of poetry and thinking that is of poetry as thinking
wittgenstein proposes that thinking
might be something that is done with a pencil
the physical language either written or spoken
is the only empirical evidence we have that thinking
exists all this mental work we do all this cogitating
and imagining and calculating and agonizing and envisioning
none of this becomes solid until we speak it
or write it or indicate it with mathematical notation
or musical script so let's imagine or rather let us say
hypothetically that thinking is a metaphor
for something that happens entirely in language
a set of very concrete empirical events that occurs
according to a set of rules we might call grammar
a set of rules no more human whatever that means
than the rules that govern say gravity or chemical
reactions or the patterns waves make in the sand
on the seashore so that not only the entire field
of psychology but most of philosophy all of metaphysics
and incidentally the cultural structures of identity
would all be a sort of hallucination based on this
metaphor or rather as the concept of hallucination
itself is bound up in the tradition maybe thinking
is a model used to describe and predict a set of
recurring events it isn't of course the only such model
modelling might in fact be a universal condition but
it is easiest to see in discourses like quantum physics
we all know for example what an atom is we've all
seen pictures of atoms they look a lot like pictures
we've seen of the solar system with little spheres
orbiting around a central sphere and sometimes
they are modelled as tinker toys that can be stuck
together in various ways in various combinations
and we're all familiar with the periodic table and the way
the elements arrange themselves conveniently in a grid
and we all know the difference between an element
and a compound and we know roughly what a nuclear
reaction is when a stray particle splits an atom a bit
of the atomic glue gets knocked loose and that tiny
bit of matter is converted to pure energy but we also
know and the physicist should be the first to remind us
that these models do not represent reality in any sort
of graphic or empirical way they are models that have
been built from intuitive and initially grossly inaccurate
metaphors they are the record of the history of
the scientific experiment which is to say the history
of cosmology and warfare that begins with the pre
socratics democritus invented the atom and it has
served as a complex sign and tool for prediction
of the behavior of matter in certain conditions
and it culminates in the atomic bomb or the nuclear
reactor and so we can say that the metaphor of the atom
has served us well and we have given democritus
his due but it is important to realize that the atom
and the incineration of hiroshima are of differing
orders of reality that is if the west had not been so
fascinated with democritus' particulate fantasy we
would have come up with some other system
to annotate our experiments and perfect our weapons
and that system could have just as well predicted
the incineration of hiroshima or who knows another
system might have resulted in the incineration of say
los angeles as it might have been a wave theory
or something with a metaphorical base in eastern
religion and in the same way that the system of
metaphors we call physics led to the atomic bomb
we could say the system of metaphors we call thinking
leads to a poem but it leads there without necessity
it is the effect discovering the cause but discovering
in an interested and mythifying way it is a path yes
but there are many paths we could imagine that
lead to the poem this doesn't mean
thinking doesn't exist or that
thinking doesn't work for prediction and predication
but thinking is a different order of event from the poem
the incineration of hiroshima is an act and then a fact
antin's improvisation of tuning is an act and then a fact
but an atom is neither fact nor act but a mnemonic
a marking system and so is thinking think of it
as like an avalanche that begins with a few grains
reaching a so to speak critical mass and gravity
starting them to tumble everything follows from that
and then a conversation i had with schoolmates
when i was nine or ten and we were talking about
going to sleep at night and how sometimes
we would be having these lovely pleasant thoughts
and then the thoughts would take off on a tangent
that was less pleasant or frustrating or boring or scary
and then we'd try to get back to the pleasant thought
and maybe pleasant is too bland a word let's say back to
the wonderful thought that we were thinking before
taking that wrong turn but we would not be able
to get back there even though only a few seconds
had elapsed we could not remember what the thought
was that was so wonderful and made us feel completely
at peace and descending into sleep as into a place
of utter safety and the remarkable thing that quickly
became apparent was that the three of us were having
this conversation as one one of us would start a sentence
and another would finish it and another would
start the next we all had the same
experience of thought while laying down to sleep
and the sudden discovery of this commonality
was an experience almost as pleasant and indeed
as fleeting as the wonderful thoughts that provoked it
we took it as an ironic verification of our mystical
moments in the free float of reverie ironic because
what our moment of community verified was the utter
isolation of the self in the vacuum of the thought
dangling through time in our separate but
identical bell jars and i wonder if it was only in
me a suspicion began to arise that the separation might
be both more and less than its visualization

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