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If you borrow this book, you have to return it: Dorothea Lasky.

February 1, 2011 \am\28 8:00 am

[For this series, I’ve asked many wondrous writers to reflect on an individual copy of a book that is very important to them. Writers and publishers have varied and often impassioned relationships to their analog books, as actual books are still arguably the “realest” physical manifestation of their poetic pursuits. I think that as the Kindle and other digital representations of text continue their upward spiral, it’s important to reflect on books as the uniquely funky-smelling, emotion-provoking, paper-cutting, dust/coffee/spaghetti sauce-collecting artifacts that they are! Check back next week for more top picks!]


Dorothea Lasky is the author of Black Life and AWE, both out from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks. She currently lives in New York City.

It was hard to pick one favorite book, but eventually I picked an obvious one. The book I selected is my copy of The To Sound (Verse Press, 2004) by Eric Baus. I got the book the second it came out and had Eric sign it for me. He wrote “You’ve been my sister for a while now” and then the date.The To Sound, Eric Baus

This makes sense if you have read the book. In many of the poems, there is a sister, who becomes a shadow figure of the speaker. As he writes, “’Spilled sand and lamplight’ has been my sister for a while now.” The self is cleaved and cleaved into many indistinguishable parts within. It is true to the way the world works, I think.

I love my copy mostly because of what Eric Baus wrote in it. Eric is the closest I’ll ever get to a brother in this lifetime. I first met him in 2001 in a MFA workshop at UMass-Amherst. On the first day of class (his first day, I had been there a year), he brought in a poem in which he paid close attention to the spaces between the gills of a fish. I remember thinking ‘This person is a lot like me’ (cell-to-cell junctions were always my favorite thing to learn about in Biology class) and we became fast friends.

Dorothea Lasky contemplating Eric Baus. Photo: Michael Carr


Years later, I was studying Portraiture as a research methodology for social scientists from the genius who invented it, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. For the class, we had to find something to do a portrait of and I chose Eric Baus. The To Sound featured highly in my portrait, as Tuned Droves had not come out yet. In it, I talked about words fluttering like birds and then also burning, and how this related to the way words are learned. Some people seemed to think it was a bit strange that my unit of analysis was a poet, when they had focused on a school or community group, but I am glad I spent that time with his book. I bent the spine of my copy again and again.

The picture here is not of me with my book, but sitting beneath the actual Elizabeth Zechel painting that is on the cover, in Laura Solomon’s apartment (Philadelphia, 2007). I look like I might know something. I like to think that I am thinking about the book.

  1. February 1, 2011 \pm\28 9:30 pm 9:30 pm

    I love that painting and I always will.

  2. February 2, 2011 \am\28 11:41 am 11:41 am

    I’d LOVE to read the paper Dottie wrote!

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