The Collected Poetry and Prose of Lawrence Fixel

From his early beginning as a writer in the 1930s Works Progress Administration (under the direction of Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison) to his death in 2003, Lawrence Fixel’s literary output was steady and prolific. Regarded by prose poets both in the United States and abroad as an early and dependable master of the prose poem and pioneer of the modern parable, Fixel’s careful, explorative, often wryly humorous, deeply introspective work—sought out even to the end of his life by avant-garde magazines—strikes a chord of the universally human: our foibles, our arrogances, our excesses and triumphs.

This volume presents, for the first time, all of this American master’s published work, including his both early poetry in verse and his extensive body of work in prose.

This is a book to be celebrated! And is, in fact, a celebration in itself—of the remarkable career of a writer central to the vibrant literary culture of the post-WW2 Bay Area. A master of the prose poem and of the parable, both uncommon forms at the time, Fixel associated the parable with necessity and the prose poem with possibility, and yet, as his extensive body of work amply proves, both are necessary for maximizing the possible. Beautifully edited and introduced, and supported by essays contextualizing his life and work, this volume supplies an essential link in the history of 20th century American poetry—and offers hundreds of pages of deeply moving, unforgettable writing.

—Cole Swensen

Lawrence Fixel was one of our most beautiful and original writers. He took to heart Aristotle’s “What has happened is History. What might have happened is Art.” A creature of constant “might haves” and metamorphoses, his métier was a poetic, philosophic prose that issued into poems, parables, fictions and speculative meditations that seem to lean forward in time, pressuring a seemingly rational language until it suddenly snaps its readers into absurdities and new conjugations. In a world of dogmas, false certainties and oppressive realities, he was an angel of Evanescence itself, fluid, ungraspable, seeking as he wrote “to find in that which passes, that which does not pass.” Some in despair might have thrown up their hands; Fixel wrote it down.

—Michael Heller

The Collected Poetry and Prose of Lawrence Fixel was edited by Gerald Fleming.

Gerald Fleming’s most recent book is One, an experiment in monosyllabic prose poems (Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn). Other titles include The Choreographer, Night of Pure Breathing, Swimmer Climbing onto Shore, and three books for teachers. From 1995 to 2000, Fleming edited the magazine Barnabe Mountain Review, and most recently has edited the vitreous magazine One (More) Glass. He taught for thirty-seven years in San Francisco’s public schools and lives most of the year in Lagunitas, California.

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