Synopses & Reviews
How splendid and impressive to have a complete, clear, and unobstructed view of Denise Levertov at last. Covering more than six decades and including, chronologically, every poem she ever published, Levertov’s Collected Poems
presents her marvelous, ground breaking work in full.
Born in England, Denise Levertov emigrated in 1948 to the United States, where she was acclaimed by Kenneth Rexroth in the New York Times as “the most subtly skillful poet of her generation, the most profound, the most modest, the most moving.” A staunch antiwar activist and environmentalist, and the winner of the Robert Frost Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Lannan Prize, Denise Levertov inspired generations of writers.
"Everything is threatened, but meanwhile/ everything presents itself': Levertov's late-career exclamation might serve as a motto for this earnest, enormous, gathering of her once-celebrated, still controversial poems, a collection that could prompt a revival. Present-day critics and poets remember her unadorned free verse of the 1950s and early 1960s, with its clear focus on real things, alongside her fierce, copious, overtly political (some said strident, or shrill) writings from the 1960s and 1970s, against the war in Vietnam, and then for other public causes (antinuclear, antipoverty, El Salvadoran): 'While we lie in the road to block traffic from the air force base,/ over there the dead are strewn in the roads.' No reader can avoid Levertov's politics; but this volume reveals, if not many different styles, at least many other topics and goals over 19 books and six decades. Born and raised in England, of Jewish heritage, Levertov (1923 1997) settled first in northern California, and then outside Boston: British childhood, Mexican travels, protest-era Berkeley, and latter-day New England all inform her landscape and memories. So do other poets' lives, French and American; sex and (remarkably) amicable divorce; an allegorical adopted pig; the early death of her sister; and, in Levertov's final collections, the saints and pieties of Christian belief. 'What is the revolution I'm driven/ to name, to live in?' she asked in To Stay Alive (1971), but the revolution was only the beginning. If Levertov found it 'difficult to write/ of the real image, real hand, the heart/ of day or autumn,' her poetry often did it nevertheless; though she became known for protests, even for rage, her best work shows her at her happiest: 'you whose joy is a kite/ now dragged in dirt, now/ breaking the ritual of sky.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The landmark collected work of one of the greatest poets of the 20th century
About the Author
Denise Levertov (1923-1997) was a British born American poet. She wrote and published 20 books of poetry, criticism, translations. She also edited several anthologies. Among her many awards and honors, she received the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Frost Medal, the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Lannan Award, a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Eavan Bolandwas born in Dublin. The author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry and nonfiction, she is a professor and the director of the Creative Writing program at Stanford University.