Critically Acclaimed Poet Thomas Lux Visits WCU

One wave falling forward meets another wave fallingforward. Well-water, hand-hauled, mineral, cool,could bea kiss, or pasturesfiery green after rain, beforethe grazers.

In this excerpt from “The Kiss,” critically acclaimed poet Thomas Lux lives up to the title “biographer of the ordinary” bestowed on him by Booklist for his volume New and Selected, a collection of poems spanning his entire career.

This former Guggenheim Fellow and three time grant recipient from the National Endowment for the Arts will read from his work Thursday, February 1 in Coulter Auditorium at 7:30 pm. Admission to this event is free, with a reception and book signing to follow.

Lux will also conduct a free workshop this coming Friday at which he will be reading and critiquing the work of other poets from Western.

Those interested in this workshop should contact Dr. Mary Adams at 227-3930.

Lux is the author of several books, including Split Horizons, his sixth collection for which he won the $50,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His other works include The Blind Swimmer; Selected Early Poems 1970-75; The Drowned River; Half Promised Land; A Boat in the Forest; Glassblowers’ Breath; Pecked to Death By Swans; Sunday; Tantalus & the Lifebuoy; and Massachusetts: Ten Poems.

Lux’s Selected was named one of the New York Public Library’s 25 “Books to Remember” in 1997. He has received praise from other sources as well. Publisher’s Weekly called him “singular among his peers in his ability to convey with a deceptive lightness the paradoxes of human emotion.” According to Helen Chasin of the Village Voice he is “incapable of writing a bad line.” Booklist has hailed him as a “chronicler of our times.” His ability is demonstrated in this excerpt from “The People of the Other Village”:

The people of the other villagehate the people of this villageand would nail our hatsto our heads for refusing in their presence toremove themor staple our hands to our foreheadsfor refusing to salute themif we did not hurt them first: mail thempackages of rats,mix their flour at night with broken glass.They do this, we do that.

However, Lux’s success as a poet isn’t the product of praise from critics. Rather, it is the result of experience and a technique that reflects his belief that he should write poetry which is meant for a wider audience.

“If you have an art form that is not accessible, if you can only get it if it’s explained by other people, it becomes snobbish and elitist and people aren’t going to be interested,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons people hate poetry, why it has such a small audience. And that angers me because it takes poetry away from the people.” (From Thomas Lux: Poetry for the people, An interview by Daina [ibid] Savage, January 1998 for Rambles magazine @