Hank Lazer’s Thinking in Jewish (N20) is the twentieth notebook in his shape-writing series, drawing on Jewish traditions of text-and-commentary in conversation on the same page, this one in dialogue with the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. These handwritten poems rather problematize the notion of “line” and are visually as well as audibly and conceptually striking, as you can see from these thumbnails of pages 11, 12 and 13:

11  12  13

Click on any of these to load a high resolution version. I like to load them on my phone, lock the screen, then zoom in and rotate the phone as the poems shift direction.

We are launching Thinking in Jewish this Wednesday in New Orleans with a special event at the Bloodjet Poetry Series, hosted by Trembling Pillow Press director Megan Burns. If you’re in town, please stop by and enjoy. If you’re not in town and want to come, let us know and we’ll skype you in, or something… And if you just want to get a copy of the book, you can pick one up from the website for half price, today only.

Reading with Hank will be a “local poet” named Lavender. He has a bad foot (I mean the physical kind) and doesn’t get out much, preferring to sit at his computer and write things like this. So come see this rare in-the-flesh appearance. He’ll be reading some from Surrealism, his book on our site, including a few in Spanish, translated by Argentine poet Enrique Solinas, and also from one of his (many) grossly underappreciated volumes from Trembling Pillow, Transfixion. Here’s one from that book:




come taste this

fruit little gunner

he said

sailing like

a blind fool

his fake neutral air

drowned in a book

a crook in town

to repent but

it was too late

in the cold living room

to take off

his tie

to touch

the strange lumps

beneath the pine 


blackbirds boozy

the emperor’s drunken

soldiery abed

seen over &

over same old

sea same old


shrill & summery

that even in

slumber caused

his cheek to

glow every man every

woman carries

this filament

life predestined

surly & interested like

the coming on of rain 


I infect with

meaning something exact

as reality’s dark

dream when the

lanterns go out

the matching skullcap

& map of brain

his peatbrown head 


music from a far off room

like these

mountains this

infinite movement

mingling with all

sound all

thought the dull

sobbing draft

that moans the

image of your public self


hoarse from

days drinking

anticipating a message

to the armies of

those engulfed

in black water 


why does his mind

envy reed & hawthorne

is it to have

a point again

arranging & changing

& placing the eye

again dehumanized 


he has a dozen hands

& pollackesque friends

to make germinate

language as

a choir of worms

saying names

like money spent

on misconceptions

whose silver cargo

vision banished


when they pulled me

from the sack

I reeked of you

I defiled you

the ways you live

your secrets of life

joined in spite

in the attics of

old houses

proud full of verse

what little town

by river or sea

gates the flaming

word that is yourself 


what pursuit what

struggle to escape

cuffed & clawed

but not crying

what wilderness future

light of our knowledge

yields this penelope

who would reduce

our banter to

rules of probability


planted on a starlit

golden bough

the necessary

the tap

the tap that

nothing satisfies

but self remembering

self its former height

its discordant strains

its brain that ink

may mark with vineboughs 


he lay

back eyes closed

the eyes of

youth to roll

it is a journey he said

of the curious

not to be wed forever

but like one who watches

down the row of

statues to see

the divine nimbus

a music

a rose colored



we took our seats

& ghosts & armies

came down

green butterflies

from the age of love 


shadows of

earthly vehicles 


the sea of air

the perfumed

agony of a trance 


you who gave me

my first you 


you where I

is a roomful of clothes 


flame that no

fuel feeds nor

steel has lit 


flame from

before the surprise

before affection &



your body 


your loves 


your farewell