Thought Despairiments by Larry Laurence


The poetry in this volume is somewhat difficult, but I don’t say its difficulty in itself is a gift; that’s the experience of reading someone who has departed from the usual fare to arrive at a unique voice and a consequently unfamiliar world view. Such poetry can be for some a kind of revelation while for others an exasperation—which is also a gift. Larry Laurence’s poetry in this volume is in line with Gertrude Stein; in one poem, he nods to her by quoting from her work. His own poetry stands well above the popular notion of experimentation. … The poem “Despair/Experiments” captures the theme of this collection. In fact, the combined meaning of those two terms portrays the alienation within the heart of our cities while playing within the waves and the roll of language where we are soaked by every instance of human contact. He brings in endearing memories stirred up by homely simple experience and imbues it all with what he refers to as the Ironic/ Post-Ironic wisdom of the poet. —Michael Daley


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 98
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: May, 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-953252-73-9


Where do an Unfestooned Enigmatic Unipod and an Unyoked Xenophobic Newscaster find love, escape into life outside the car and join the effort TO DISMANTLE THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX? Before today, only in the mind of Larry Laurence, but the good news is what once required a complicated Being John Malkovich-ish entry now can be had if you BUY THIS BOOK, festooned with whiffs of Paul Celan, nudity, Lyn Hejinian & wild duck lands. What are you waiting for? —Paul E. Nelson

Poem comes from the Greek Poíēma, a “thing made.” A thing. Like the made up word “despairiments.” Like Larry Laurence’s experiments with language, form, and memory that invoke the despair of lost love and remembered tragedy, then make it into soulful, witty, self-deprecating, literary, romantic, musical, base, and ultimately celebratory things. Laurence’s poems bear more than their burdens. Their words dance, parade, hide, follow procedures. They connect as they catalog and together lift far above their weight. Thought Despairiments is an experience, a triumph over despair, a gem. —Kathleen Flenniken

I enjoyed reading Larry Laurence’s Thought Despairiments very much. I could feel my neurons firing and laughing and dancing as I read. Are you awake? These poems ask, and with their form and speculation reflect back how we are complicit in the destructions we are witnessing. These are anti-capitalist, anti-reductionist, anti-militarist, pro poetry, poems. They are antidote to the pervasive, passive, consumptive ethos of our time.  {M}us{t}. READ. —Claudia Castro Luna

In these pages the poet Larry Laurence lays bare a profound interiority, in essence a workshop for the coming to terms with the quality of mercy in our times.  Both barometric and predictive in their empathic accuracy, these writings achieve nothing less than to be a model for the material they are made of.  Laurence*s interior colloquies—in his search for meaning and in his articulations—evince the transformation of this existence-bane, this despair, into literature. —Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino


for J.W.

Three angels manifest themselves at a bar. They make it known to the mind of the bartender, This day is our birthday.

No. Three baleen whales, a gray, a blue, & a humpback,
swim into a bar. They sing in high-pitched vocalizations & clicks, This day is our birthday.

No. Three rocks, an igneous, a metamorphic, & a sedimentary, roll into a bar. In Morse code they knock against themselves to the bartender, Today is our birthday.

No. Three weeds, a sheep sorrel, a redstem filaree, & a Canada goldenrod, seed themselves at a bar. Utilizing the slight air currents available they rustle to the bartender, Today’s. . .

No. Three trees, a Jenny sycamore, a paw paw, & a blossoming pear. . . An anaconda, a coachwhip, & a Texas blind snake. . .
OK, a swift, a chicken hawk, & a blue jay. . .

OK, OK. Three subnuclear particles appear & do not appear simultaneously in various unknowable interstices of realities themselves barely conceivable at the bar & outside the bar. They harmonize

in vibrations at once audible & inaudible to the bartender

in such a way to at last, at long last, prove senseless the dichotomy of the observer & the observed, Today’s our birthday!

No matter, says the bartender. We, all of us, gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

The planets in their musical spheres,
In their deep dance of woe and words.


Larry Laurence’s books are a full-length volume of poems, Life Of The Bones To Come, Black Heron Press, Seattle, WA, chosen as a National Poetry Month selection by NACS, the National Association Of College Stores;  a chapbook, Scenes Beginning With The Footbridge At The Lake, Brooding Heron Press, Waldron Island, WA;  and an e-chapbook, Successions Of Words Are So, E-Ratio Editions, NY, NY.  His poems have appeared in the anthologies How Much Earth:  The Fresno Poets, Roundhouse Press, Berkeley, CA and Jack Straw Writers, Jack Straw Productions, Seattle, WA and in journals including CutBank, E·ratio Postmodern Poetry, Floating Bridge Review, Poetry Northwest, POOL, Raven Chronicles, Southern Poetry Review.  Awards include grants from The Seattle Arts Commission (WA) and Artist Trust (WA), plus a Jack Straw Fellowship (WA) and residencies at Community Of Writers (CA) and Cummington Center For The Arts (MA).  Larry Laurence earned an M.A, English, California State University, Fresno, studying poetry under Philip Levine.

Links:  Poets & Writers Directory;  Podcast by Jack Straw Productions;  Life Of The Bones To Come;  The Far Field, Washington State Poet Laureate Program;  Successions Of Words Are So.

Additional information

Weight 6.7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in