Paradise Loft/ poems by Laurence Carr/book review by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

One rainy Sunday, I decided, was the time to read and be illuminated by Laurence Carr’s new volume of poetry, Paradise Loft. I was thoroughly enriched by his meditations on such philosophical states as being and nothingness, absence and presence, permanence and flux.  In these works, he explores in highly original, evocative ways how we live in time and create these spaces of time and timelessness.  These reflections are in poetic forms that range from the experimental and abstract, to lyrical and narrative moments.  Particularly compelling are the experimental poems that display the tension between absence and presence; for example, in “first bloom,” he plays with paradoxes of “yes” and “no,” of “maybe” and “may be and “not may be.”  I also particularly enjoyed the yoking of such conceits as putting pencil to paper and scribbling to the larger process of creating poetic visions. In “sharpening pencils,” he connects “paper pencil/hand and thought”—“a foursome [that] plays/in soft rebellion.”  “Scraps” of words, in another work, become “a palimpsest of sustenance.”   Finally, he also pays attention to the details and objects of ordinary life as they embody themes of loss, memory, and mourning.  A favorite cup breaks and becomes a resonant symbol of mortality. In his portrayal of the death of his beloved cat, “the collar,” haunts the woods in memoriam.  A series of narrative poems based on film reels from Poughkeepsie 1912-1917 brings back the invisible lives of those lost to history at that time.  In all these poems, what is affirmed brilliantly is the way poetry shapes our perspectives on reality and “words [not only] inflame the writer’s heart” but all of ours.  Words “reveal lost truths/confess the long unspoken” of our lives.


Paradise Loft is a collection that explores time. The poems are arranged into eleven sections beginning with a prologue: “God’s Diary/Day 5”, a timeless timeframe. It is followed by “Wording/Morning”, thoughts on morning writing; “Journeyman I”, a sequence of time-travels; “Feline Dreams” on the afterlives of cats, ending with the mid-20th century romance, “The Ballad of Henrietta Pussycat and Her Lover Thief Coyote.” Next, “Even She” are sketchbook studies. The prose poems in “time past” bring up collected memories. “Journeyman II” continues the time-travels, and “Wording/Evening” shows the end of day grasping at end of day thoughts. The book closes with “in time”: seven bilingual dreamscapes conjured between two and seven A.M. that bring on a new beginning. 

Paradise Loft, poems by Laurence Carr, is published by CAPS Press and Lightwood Press. It’s available by contacting CAPS Press ( or or The price is $10.00 (plus $4.00 s/h)

The cover art and Spanish translation of the last seven poems in Paradise Loft are by Leticia Ortega Cortes. The book is designed by Elizabeth Cline. 


Laurence Carr lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and writes fiction, CNF, poetry and plays. His novel, Pancake Hollow Primer, (Winner: Next Generation Indie Book Award for first novel) and two poetry collections, Threnodies: poems in remembrance and The Wytheport Tales are published by Codhill Press. As anthology editor at Codhill, he edited or co-edited five anthologies: Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers;WaterWrites: A Hudson River Anthology; A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley (Winner of the USA Best Book Award for Fiction Anthology); and Reflecting Pool: Poets and the Creative Process (Finalist in Non-Fiction, Next Generation Indie Book Awards). Over 20 of his plays for adult and young audiences have been produced in New York City, regionally and in Europe including the Off-Broadway. His writing has appeared in numerous publications. Laurence taught creative and dramatic writing at SUNY New Paltz and currently is the publisher of Lightwood magazine ( Also visit


Jan Zlotnik Schmidt is a frequent contributor to Lightwood. Her new book of poetry, Over the Moon…Gone: The Vanishing Act of Bess Houdini is reviewed in this issue of LIghtwood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s