The result is a book of discursive meditations that will amply reward the reader. Part travelogue, part pilgrimage in which the shrines remain hidden until they are recognized later, Larry Levis’s startling and complex fifth book of poems is about the enslavement to desire for personal freedom, and the awareness of its price.
Larry Levis was born in Fresno, California, in 1946. His first book of poems, Wrecking Crew, won the United States Award from the International Poetry Forum, and was published in the Pitt Poetry Series in 1972. His second book, The Afterlife, won the Lamont Award from the American Academy of Poets in 1976. In 1981, The Dollmaker's Ghost was a winner of the Open Competition of the National Poetry Series. Among his other awards were three fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Larry Levis died in 1996.
Over the years Larry Levis has constructed a striking poetic autobiography, a relentless self-interrogation in verse. His fifth and most wide-ranging collection begins with the poet’s first memory: listening to the McCarthy hearings with his parents around a radio at the kitchen table. From this point, however, his focus widens and enlarges to encompass a rich and odd cast of characters: Villon, Caravaggio, the impoverished Rembrandt, Coleridge, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and a surgeon on a hospital ship in the Korean War, among others. The settings of these poems - the San Joaquin Valley, Kent State University, Eastern Europe, Mexico - are equally diverse. All are united by the poet’s imagination.
The result is a book of startling, complex, discursive meditations that will amply reward the reader. Part travelogue, part pilgrimage in which the shrines remain hidden until they are recognized later, this book of poems is about the enslavement to desire for personal freedom, and the awareness of its price.
“Establishes him indisputably and once and for all as one of the younger masters.”—North American Review
"In this book, Levis descends through memory and history with bravery and authority. He seems to be writing the poems we all need to read right now." —Antioch Review