Poetry. Writing within the tradition of wisdom literature, Lazer's COVID19 SUTRAS presents a real-time engagement with the early phases of the pandemic, as that tragedy began to merge with the consequences of the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and the increased awareness of the virus of American systemic racism. Lazer's series of poems hold outrage and peace, anger and momentary joy within a shared space. In the tradition of Chinese poet Tu Fu, Lazer's writing anchors itself in a path of sustained Zen meditation and pastoral rejuvenation as means toward balance and insight. As with Lazer's most recent works—Thinking in Jewish, Brush Mind, Slowly Becoming Awake, and Poems That Look Just Like Poems—COVID19 SUTRAS continues his exploration of the nature of consciousness itself, and those momentary sudden inscriptions that are part and parcel of the grace of each human incarnation.
"Hank Lazer's poetry has always traced the ways we navigate time. In COVID 19 SUTRAS, he writes into and through this time of crises in poems alternatively meditative and wild with grief. He takes a census of backyard birds before checking the death count. I'm grateful for the way he documents this complicated and perilous moment."—Rae Armantrout
John Yau @ Hyperallergic
Hank Lazer has published thirty-three books of poetry, including field recordings of mind in morning (2021, BlazeVOX - with 15 music-poetry tracks with Holland Hopson on banjo - available from Bandcamp), COVID 19 SUTRAS (2020, Lavender Ink), SLOWLY BECOMING AWAKE (N32) (2019, Dos Madres Press), POEMS THAT LOOK JUST LIKE POEMS (2019, PURH - one volume in English, one in French), Evidence of Being Here: Beginning in Havana (N27), (2018, Negative Capability Press), THINKING IN JEWISH (N20) (2017, Lavender Ink). Lazer has performed jazz-poetry improvisations in the US and Cuba with musicians Davey Williams, Omar Pérez, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Holland Hopson, and others. Lazer's Brush Mind books have been transformed into video installations and performances in several art gallery venues. In 2015, Lazer received Alabama's most prestigious literary prize, the Harper Lee Award, for lifetime achievement in literature. Lazer has been quarantining in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and at Duncan Farm in Carrollton, Alabama. Hank Lazer's website is: https://www.hanklazer.com