I’ll be giving talks on Pure Act at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 4, and at the University of Portland bookstore at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6. (See my Talks page for location details.)
These talks are significant to me for different reasons:
Seattle: Having grown up in Seattle, I’ve long dreamed of giving a book talk at Elliott Bay, the top bookstore in the city. And the talk is being co-sponsored by Image literary journal, which published my essay A Gyroscope On the Island of Love and named me its Artist of the Month in March of 2012. The other co-sponsor is Wave Books, which put out a great collection of Lax’s later poetry in 2013: poems (1962-1997), edited by my Portland State University colleague John Beer.
Portland: The University of Portland reading was arranged by my dear friend and former thesis student Fr. Pat Hannon, who teaches there. Pat’s thesis was published last year by Ave Maria Press as a book called Sacrament: Personal Encounters with Memories, Wounds, Dreams, and Unruly Hearts. Pat will be introducing me. This will also be my first reading in Portland since my book came out.
I hope you’ll come to one of these talks if you’re in the area, and spread the word to your friends!
About 70 people attended the wonderful launch for Pure Act, hosted by Fordham University Press at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus on Wednesday. The first thing my editor, Fordham U. Press Director Fred Nachbaur, said to me when I arrived was that sales have been strong enough to warrant a second printing! This was five days before the book’s official publication date: September 21.
To mark the official publication of the book this coming Monday, I’ll be the featured speaker at a celebration of Robert Lax’s life at McNally Jackson Books in NYC’s SoHo district. The event begins at 7 p.m. (See my Talks page for full details.) The other participants, all reading from Lax’s poetry, will be Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner C.K. Williams, experimental writer and critic Richard Kostelanetz, former poet laureate of Queens Paolo Javier, former Lax literary assistant John Beer (my colleague at Portland State University), and Lax’s niece Marcia Kelly. If you’re in or near NYC, I hope you’ll come!
The Official New York Launch of Pure Act is coming up on the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus 6 p.m. this coming Wednesday, Sept. 16! It’s just one of several appearances I’ll be making in the New York City area in the next ten days. I’ll also be speaking at:
Sept. 17: The Fairfield University Bookstore in Fairfield, CT
Sept. 18: The Catholic Worker’s Mary House in the Bowery
Sept. 19: Corpus Christi Church (where Thomas Merton was baptized) near Columbia University
Sept. 20: The Brooklyn Book Festival (11 a.m.-12 p.m. book signing only)
Sept. 21: McNally Jackson Books in SoHo
I’ll also be in Baltimore and Arlington, VA, before New York and Minneapolis after–for a full listing of events, times and details, go to my Talks page.
Drawing on his friendship with poet Robert Lax (1915–2000) and his close readings of Lax’s writings, McGregor eloquently offers the definitive biography of a too often forgotten figure who influenced a number of writers and crafted spirituality out of his deep commitment to love, poverty, and justice. McGregor deftly and briefly chronicles Lax’s childhood in Olean, Penn. His family eventually moved to New York City, but not before the circus came to Olean and mesmerized the young Lax—with its performers who are “portals to the land of dusk”—so deeply that he traveled with a circus through western Canada in 1949 and wrote a cycle of poems that grew out of his experience and love. By the fall of 1943, Lax had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, inspired by his readings of Thomas Aquinas’s writings and by his ongoing discussions with Thomas Merton, whom Lax had met at Columbia University. Following his conversion, Lax embraced a life of poverty, combining his lack of desire for things with a passion for nurturing a love for those on the fringes of society. This detailed biography from a friend of subject is best for those already interested in Lax’s mission. The book effectively brings to life Lax’s “pure act”—naturally living out his God-given abilities without becoming mired in judging others. (Sept.)
I heard footsteps on the cabin deck yesterday and looked up to see the UPS deliveryman holding out a package. Inside were two copies of Pure Act: my first look at the actual book. It’s beautiful–and that’s not just this author’s humble opinion. When my editor saw it, he called it “stunning–breathtaking, really.” I hope others like it as much as those of us who have worked on it. If you’ve pre-ordered it, your copies should be arriving soon.
My first reading is up here at the library on Lopez Island at 1 p.m., next Saturday, August 29. Another good reason to visit the San Juans! Next up will be a reading at the Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, WA, at 6:30 on Friday, September 4, and then our Seattle launch at the University Bookstore on the Ave at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 5. Please see my “Talks” page for other upcoming readings. I hope to see you at one of them!