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The Selected Levis

The Selected Levis Edited and with an Afterword by David St JohnWhen Larry Levis died suddenly in Philip Levine wrote that he had years earlier recognized Levis as the most gifted and determined young poet I have

  • Title: The Selected Levis
  • Author: Larry Levis David St. John
  • ISBN: 9780822957935
  • Page: 448
  • Format: Paperback
  • Edited and with an Afterword by David St JohnWhen Larry Levis died suddenly in 1996, Philip Levine wrote that he had years earlier recognized Levis as the most gifted and determined young poet I have ever had the good fortune to have in one of my classes His early death is a staggering loss for our poetry, but what he left is a major achievement that will enrich oEdited and with an Afterword by David St JohnWhen Larry Levis died suddenly in 1996, Philip Levine wrote that he had years earlier recognized Levis as the most gifted and determined young poet I have ever had the good fortune to have in one of my classes His early death is a staggering loss for our poetry, but what he left is a major achievement that will enrich our lives Each of his books was published to wide critical acclaim, and David St John has collected together the best of his work from his first five books Wrecking Crew 1972 , Afterlife 1976 , The Dollmaker s Ghost 1981 , Winter Stars 1985 and The Widening Spell of the Leaves 1991 It is not an exaggeration to say that the death of Larry Levis in 1996 of a heart attack at 49 sent a shock wave through the ranks of American poetry Not only was Levis a good friend to many poets not simply of his own generation but of many poets older and younger as well , his poetry had become a kind of touchstone for many of us, a source of special inspiration and awe With Larry Levis death came the sense that an American original had been lost It is not at all paradoxical that he saw both the most intimate expressions of poetry and the grandest gestures of art, of language, as constituting individual acts of courage One can only hope that, like such courage, Larry Levis s remarkable poems will continue to live far into our literature from the Afterword, by David St John

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    1 thought on “The Selected Levis

    1. There's an old piece advice you can sometimes use in a difficult situation: imagine the worst that could happen. If it's not the end of the world if that worst thing happens, then make your decision knowing you can handle any outcome. That is the supreme favor that Levis has given us. I'm afraid of death, afraid that I don't really have any sort of grip on it. This is compounded by the fact that I haven't had many objective, detailed conversations or expositions about death with the people in my [...]

    2. I always enjoy seeing how a poet's writing instinct shifts and changes over a lifetime. I heart you, Larry Levis, you are my new favorite. ps - mme. unnarrator: do you want me to hand this over to you or should I return it to H.L.?

    3. Levis was, for me, one of the most important poets of the twentieth century: his poems engage the world in all its complexity. Although I always think its best to read the poems in their individual collections, this is a great primer of Levis's work.

    4. If you have read Levis, you get it--the blanketing sadness, the attention to detail, the impossible to word worded remarkably. If you haven't read Levis, go now do that.

    5. I find that I can only read so much Levis at a time before my heart starts breaking either from joy or from sadness. This means I read him often!

    6. One of LL's constant themes is identity. For instance, a poem, "Convalescent Home" from his first collection compares the elderly to animals "licking themselves goodbye" and furthers the comparison "They are the small animals vanishing / at the road's edge everywhere." From his last collection, the speaker of "The Two Trees" questions his own identity: "Everything I have done has come to nothing /It is not even worth mocking." Many times LL's theme of identity also influences another main topic [...]

    7. Poetry. These are selections from Levis' six books of poetry, so there's a good representation of the way his style changed over time. His writing is smooth and slightly dreamy; he's not afraid to hare off after a wild metaphor or spend some time toiling away on a subject that, at first, seems to have nothing to do with the poem you're reading.This is a huge book, with over 200 pages of poetry, and I had to read it slowly so I didn't become overwhelmed by his constant mentions of vines. Yes, he [...]

    8. Larry Levis, who passed away at the early age of 50, left behind seven books of poems. Many of these poems are in "The Selected Levis", and this book gives plenty of reasons why Levis was not only a phenomenal poet, but a neccessary one. A former student of Philip Levine, he achieved his voice through the great inspiration from poets such as Levine, James Wright, and many others, yet as his work matured, he become a powerfully individual voice that I will always admire and respect.

    9. My favorite Levis book is still Elegy, but it was neat to see his artistic progression in this collection. There's some real nice surreal influences working in his early poems.

    10. Unbelievable. I love his cadence. The long and relevant teasing of sentences punctuated with little anchors draw us in at every interval so I don't want to let go.

    11. My favorite poet of all time! He takes me to imaginary places like no other writer whether they write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

    12. Larry Levis died suddenly of a heart attack at age 49, taking with him the rest of the poetic heart and mind he had only briefly shared in his collections. The best of Wrecking Crew, The Afterlife, The Dollmaker’s Ghost, Winter Stars, The Widening Spell of the Leaves, and Elegy are gathered in this work with an afterword by David St. John. The world of poetry lost a great poet; fortunately, the world will have this collection of his work for years to come.

    13. "One woman, who made an omelet with a sheet of tin/And five, light blue quail eggs/Had a voice full of dusk, and jail cells,"Last month I was looking for some inspiration for my own poetry and I came across this book at my library. I'm very glad I had a chance to read it.My favorite thing about Levis' poetry is how vivid it is. As you can see in the quote above his words are all chosen with great care, and they all work well together to paint a striking mental image. "And though I don't know mu [...]

    14. "Sometimes, I go out into this yard at night, And stare through the wet branches of an oak In winter, & realize I am looking at the stars again. A thin haze of them, shining And persisting.It used to make me feel lighter, looking up at them. In California, that light was closer. In a California no one will ever see again." -Winter Stars by Larry LevisI haven't the wisdom to review Levis' work. When I attempt to share/describe his prose with others, I sound sappy, corny, like a love-sick girl [...]

    15. A collection like this is perhaps too much for a casual poetry reader. David St. John's afterword helped me appreciate and understand it more, but I think it's better for scholars or people who have lots of time to devote to a selection of a poet's entire body of work. Still, Levis' power and grace and intellect are evident, and I'm not sorry to have invested some time with him. Mostly I'm frustrated that I don't have the chance to take an actual course on contemporary poetry.

    16. I got lost in this book of poetry in a beautiful way. I read 7/8 of the book in one afternoon enveloped in the Steinbeck-like "stories" for lack of a better word. Once the spell was broken, it took a couple of days to finish the book of poems. I never could recapture that afternoon. I can't even remember what many of the poems were about, just that they took me somewhere else. Really cool.

    17. while reading this book, i made a note in the margin: "this guy writes like nobody ever lost a father before." and i didn't mean that in a good way. it's a big book & it felt repetitive - but did get a little more interesting toward the end. which is a shame since i was *so* ready to be done with it by that time.

    18. Levis is one of my favorites and this is a great representation of his work. His earlier work appeals much more to me I have a hard time sustaining my attention for the longer more abstract work of the latter collections.

    19. Larry Levis is one of my very favorite poets -- I never tire of reading his work, over and over ad over.

    20. Why this guy isn't more famous, I do not know. An excellent collection. Witty, insightful, no sugar pills.

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