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The Selected Levis

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Overview

Edited and with an Afterword by David St. John

When 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...

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The Selected Levis: Revised Edition

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Overview

Edited and with an Afterword by David St. John

When 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If I could select one book of poetry from the past year to read and read again, this is it. If I could teach only one poet to younger poets, it would be Larry Levis. . . . If I could describe everything poets want their poets to do, regardless of their style and intentions, I would turn to Levis' poetry once again, and not say a word."
—Bloomsbury Review

"As his command of the poetic line widened, Levis's poetry became almost literally breathtaking, a kind of verse that spelled itself out and cast it's spell in such sinewy inventive cadences that the leaves to which he referred in 'the widening spell of the leaves' might well have been those most powerfully American bits of foliage, Leaves of Grass."
—Poetry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822957935
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,237,589
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

The Poem You Asked For 3
Magician Poems 5
L.A., Loiterings 9
For Stones 11
Fish 12
For the Country 14
The Town 17
Maybe the Dead 19
Unfinished Poem 20
Rhododendrons 23
The Double 25
Signs 28
Inventing the Toucan 30
Readings in French 31
A Poem of Horses 32
The Crimes of the Shade Trees 33
Linnets 34
Picking Grapes in an Abandoned Vineyard 47
The Ownership of the Night 50
To a Wall of Flame in a Steel Mill, Syracuse, New York, 1969 52
Truman, Da Vinci, Nebraska 54
Edward Hopper, Hotel Room, 1931 55
My Only Photograph of Weldon Kees 57
For Miguel Hernandez in His Sleep and in His Sickness: Spring, 1942, Madrid 58
For Zbigniew Herbert, Summer, 1971, Los Angeles 60
Garcia Lorca: A Photograph of the Granada Cemetery, 1966 62
Lost Fan, Hotel Californian, Fresno, 1923 64
Some Ashes Drifting Above Piedra, California 66
For a Ghost Who Once Placed Bets in the Park 69
Overhearing the Dollmaker's Ghost on the Riverbank 71
Blue Stones 74
The Spirit Says, You Are Nothing 76
The Poet at Seventeen 81
Adolescence 83
The Cry 85
Winter Stars 87
Irish Music 89
Family Romance 92
Though His Name Is Infinite, My Father Is Asleep 94
Childhood Ideogram 97
In the City of Light 99
My Story in a Late Style of Fire 101
After the Blue Note Closes 103
Whitman 105
Some Grass along a Ditch Bank 107
Two Variations on a Theme by Kobayashi 110
Those Graves in Rome 115
The Assimilation of the Gypsies 117
Sensationalism 121
The Spell of the Leaves 127
Sleeping Lioness 130
Slow Child with a Book of Birds 135
The Perfection of Solitude: A Sequence 141
To a Wren on Calvary 162
The Widening Spell of the Leaves 165
At the Grave of My Guardian Angel: St. Louis Cemetery, New Orleans 171
The Two Trees 177
In 1967 180
The Oldest Living Thing in L.A. 182
Anastasia & Sandman 183
Shiloh 187
Boy in Video Arcade 188
The Smell of the Sea 189
Elegy with a Petty Thief in the Rigging 193
Elegy with a Thimbleful of Water in the Cage 197
Elegy with a Bridle in Its Hand 204
Elegy for Poe with the Music of a Carnival Inside It 208
Elegy Ending in the Sound of a Skipping Rope 211
Afterword 227
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2000

    'how things outlive us' The Selected Larry Levis

    This book is an excellent compillation of the best of Larry Levis. See a related article at poetry.about.com. David St.John has done a praiseworthy job in keeping the memory of Levis alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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