An e-book of poetry and drawings by Lee van Laer





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This book of poetry is entitled “atypical,” because it isn’t typical of me to write poetry, and it’s certainly no longer typical of me to do art. I am by far more of a prose writer; and in that sense, I am furthermore overwhelmingly a writer of essays, although there are some few full-length books to my credit.

I only write poetry when the muse is active. She may seem like an old-fashioned idea; but the ancients knew full well when the energies were right for poetry; and when they aren’t, making any effort whatsoever to write a poem is a waste of time.

Real poems emerge whole and unwritten from an unknown space in which they already exist. In my eyes, a decent poet is nothing more than a medium who manages to step far away from intellect and calculation to let the words flow through. One can feel when that’s possible; it’s organic, a matter of the way the nervous system is tuned.

It’s the attitude and inclination of the soul.

Even the emergence of the state itself is unpredictable and unexpected. It has something to do with the seasons; the equinoxes; with all the forces of nature and the planet itself which we, in our modernity, are so fast abandoning.

With that abandonment we have embraced and been consumed by not just a prose of the intellect — which dominates the world of media — but also a poetry of the intellect, which tries to sustain itself on rationality and its permutations, rather than mythology and its mysteries. To me, it is the ancient crevices between our rational thoughts that are worth exploring; the subliminal spaces where something unsaid creeps in. That is what poetry is best at; and although there are times when I enjoy being playful and just fooling around a bit with poetry, it is the poems that allude to mystery – without completely defining it — that interest me.

No volume of poetry can be an evenhanded entity. There is always some foolishness afoot; and the ego, no matter how hard one tries to blow it out, refuses to be extinguished. Hence the foolishly egoistic nature of most poetry, including my own. To make matters worse, my longstanding sting as an editor at Parabola Magazine has me rejecting other poets all the time; and the fact is, much of the work in this volume probably wouldn’t make the cut for the magazine. ROFL.

Never mind that. There are a few good pieces here. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them.

A note is also in order regarding the illustrations. None of these illustrations were originally designed for the poems they appear with. All of them were done on an iPad Pro using the Apple pencil in 2016. The juxtaposition of the art and the poetry is just an excuse to get all this material from my notebooks out there in one fell swoop.

Those who are familiar with my art from earlier incarnations will remember me for carefully planned and executed work, often with a lot of anal detail. I gave up doing art in 2001 and have barely touched the stuff since then. The iPad Pro, however, offered a new open season on whimsical, totally spontaneous sketching activity in airports, train stations, and hotel rooms. I’ve had a lot of fun with it.

These days, my “technique” is to make a big mess by scribbling all over the place and then exploring the collisions of line and color to see what comes out of them. As such, the poems are for the most part serious, but I can't possibly claim to be taking the art very seriously.


It's kind of like, well,







Sparkill, NY 2017