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On the Enduring Appeal of Hazel Hall: An Interview with Laura Glazer

April 29, 2020

Since moving to Portland from upstate New York, artist Laura Glazer has been an active force in keeping the legacy of the poet Hazel Hall alive. She is the keeper of the Friends of Hazel Hall Facebook page, curator of a Hall-inspired art exhibit, designer of the Hazel Hall Traveling Library, and the creator of the Hazel Hall Mini Museum of Sound. We recently talked with her about the enduring appeal of Hazel Hall.

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OSU Press:
How did you first learn about Hazel Hall?

Laura Glazer: Just after moving to Portland from upstate New York, my boyfriend introduced me to an old friend with whom he attended the University of Oregon, Matthew Svoboda. Matthew asked me about my artwork and I explained that for five years I photographed the life and work of a man who handwrote the bible. (His handwriting was a beautiful, simple cursive.)

The next time we saw each other he said, "I’m working on a project that I think you might be interested in." Then he proceeded to tell me about the life and work of Hazel Hall, about whom he was composing original music. And he was right! I was immediately compelled to find out more about her and share her story.

OSU Press: What is it about Hazel Hall’s poetry that you find so compelling?

Laura Glazer: The city, its people, and its patterns were her soundtrack. What she observed from her second floor vantage point informed and inspired her poems. I study and make artwork about how the rhythms of a place can inspire us to see our circumstances differently. From 2002-2018, I was doing a similar thing as the host of a radio show I created for public radio called "Hello Pretty City." For two hours every week, I played songs that sounded unique to my ears and made me tap my toes. My goal was to make and share a soundtrack to living in a place that didn’t feel very cool or exciting. (In this instance, that place was Albany, New York.) And based on feedback from listeners, I was successful!

OSU Press: Can you tell our readers about your Traveling Library?

Laura Glazer: I designed “A Hazel Hall Traveling Library” and collaborated with an industrial engineer to fabricate it out of clear acrylic. Basically, it’s a portable bookshelf that allows me to easily transport Hazel Hall’s original three books of poetry. I can take it to classrooms, outdoor events, aHazel Hall Traveling Librarynd libraries--anywhere there might be people who want to know more about Hazel Hall. The front panel slides off and slips into the back of the case allowing people to pull out a volume and immediately begin reading her work.

OSU Press: You are a successful photographer, designer, disc jockey, and curator. Have you ever considered writing poetry?

Laura Glazer: Thanks for those compliments! Every once in a while I think about writing poetry but I have not formally put pen to paper. Mostly, I like printing my photos and adding short annotations to them like I did for an exhibit on Hazel Hall at Lane Community College. Maybe this is my own form of poetry.  

OSU Press: Do you like to sew?

Laura Glazer: I love wearing hand-sewn clothing but unfortunately, I don’t know how to sew. At some point in my life, I can imagine learning to sew especially since I love the idea that I could figure out how to add pockets to all my clothes!

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