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Professor and Biographer of Iconic Olean Poet Robert Lax to Come to SBU as Lenna Scholar

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Michael McGregor, professor of English and Creative Writing at Portland State University in Oregon, will visit St. Bonaventure University from March 18 to April 3 as the Spring 2017 Lenna Endowed Visiting Professor.

McGregor is the author of “Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax” (Fordham University Press, 2015), which has been shortlisted for numerous awards in biography, American studies, and Catholic publishing and is now being called the definitive Lax biography.

Lax, whom McGregor befriended in Lax’s later years in Greece, was an Olean native and a citizen of the world; a poet, mystic, and visionary; an intimate friend of Thomas Merton; a benefactor of St. Bonaventure University, and the recipient of the first Reginald A. Lenna Visiting Professorship in 1990-1991. Lax died in 2000 at the age of 85.

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At the Robert Lax website he manages, McGregor defines the biography’s title: 

“Lax pursued an approach to life he called pure act — a way of living in the moment that was both spontaneous and practiced, God-inspired and self-chosen. By devoting himself to simplicity, poverty and prayer, he expanded his capacity for peace, joy and love while producing distinctive poetry of such stark beauty critics called him ‘one of America’s greatest experimental poets’ and ‘one of the new “saints” of the avant-garde.’”

Free and open to the public, McGregor’s public lecture about the life and work of Lax and the writing of “Pure Act” is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in the amphitheater of the William F. Walsh Science Center. The title for that lecture is “The Island of Uncommon Life: Robert Lax and the Joy of Uncertainty.”

During his two-week stay, McGregor will mentor student writers and visit classes in creative and professional writing. He is scheduled to converse with faculty and staff about Lax’s life and poetry at a Souper Monday luncheon on March 27.

He will deliver introductory remarks about Lax’s poetry at St. Bonaventure University’s conference on concrete and visual poetry, Never Abolish Chance, to be held March 31 and April 1 in honor of Lax and his contributions to modern poetry. For more information about the two-day conference, contact the conference organizers at concrete@sbu.edu.

 

McGregor will also meet with the campus slam poetry society Chattertons and with the staff of The Laurel, St. Bonaventure University’s campus literary magazine and the oldest continuously published college literary magazine in the United States.

The Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, established in 1990, is funded through gifts from the late Betty S. Lenna Fairbank and Reginald A. Lenna of Jamestown. It is designed to bring scholars of stature in their field to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College for public lectures.

 

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