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A. Mary Murphy
LUX, THOMAS (1946- ) Thomas Lux combines the wit typical of the new york school with a rigorous eye for line and phrase. In his later work, especially, he captures ordinary things—rabbit tracks in fresh snow, an abandoned jar of maraschino cherries on a refrigerator shelf—and brings them to life in a vivid and unusual way. Like his contemporaries Bob Hicok and Billy collins, Lux captures the complexities of postmodern life in poems that sparkle even as they pack a serious punch.
Lux was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, and holds degrees from Emerson College and the University of Iowa. His first collection of poems, The Land
Sighted, was published in 1970. Lux has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received the Kingsley Tufts Award for Split Horizon in 1994; his New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995 was a finalist for the 1998 Lenore Marshall/Nation Poetry Prize, and it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry (1995). He has also been awarded a number of fellowships.
Before he became successful in his writing and teaching careers, Lux worked as a dishwasher and a night watchman, among other positions. Some of his poems reflect the realities of manual work—such as "Cows" (1994), set on the dairy farm where Lux grew up. "What I should be doing is working in a box factory in my hometown or the Elastic Web factory, where my whole family worked," he has said. "Given where I come from, I probably shouldn't be a poet. So I think I'm lucky." (Moore 65-66). He has also said that "good poetry can be accessible and clear and lucid and still be highly original and fresh and powerful." (Interview by Spalding). Although his first two books were heavily influenced by surrealism, he finds the style now "too arbitrary, and . . . kind of lazy. It doesn't pay enough attention to the musical elements of poetry" (Interview by Spalding).
Lux's work flows from his respect for the craft of working with words. His poem "An Horation Notion" (1994) tells readers that writing is a craft, neither a God-given talent nor a thunderbolt of inspiration: "You make the thing because you love the thing / and you love the thing because someone else loved it / enough to make you love it." Lux's poems are expressions of his love of words and his fascination with the varied characters and things that populate our world.
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