Synopses & Reviews
"Readers will find that this work carries the pulse of their darkest sorrows, in the breath of their humanity. Highly recommended."Library Journal
"Intimate and hypnotic."Ploughshares
"Levin has the skilled ear, magnificent tongue, and fierce mind of the truly prophetic."Rain Taxi
"Levin's work is phenomenological; it details how it feels to be an embodied consciousness making its way through the world."Boston Review
"Death is the new and unshakeable lens through which I see," writes Dana Levin about her third book, in which she confronts mortality and loss in subjects ranging from Tibetan Buddhist burial practices to Aztec human sacrifice. Shaped by dreams and "the worms and the gods," these poems are a profound investigation of our inescapable fate. As Louise Glück has said: "Levin's animating fury goes back deeper into our linguistic and philosophic history: to Blake's tiger, to the iron judgments of the Old Testament."
They took you in an ambulance even though you were dead,
they took you
and my sister said
Why are you saving her if she is dead?
Curve of sky a crescent blade.
on thermal parapets, shunyata,
void that flays
barley flour and tea: you watch him
make the paste.
Dana Levin's debut volume In the Surgical Theatre won the prestigious APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She teaches creative writing at the University of New Mexico and in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"Levin's aching but restrained third collection is an attempt to quite literally come to terms with the deaths of loved ones ('The father died and then the mother died/ And you were so addicted// to not feeling them, you told no one about the clamp/ inside,' writes Levin). To find the terms she needs, Levin (Wedding Day) hunts in some very far-flung places, including Tibetan and Aztec rituals, Wikipedia, correspondence with close friends, 'the symbol book' and the University of Tennessee. These poems are alternately cryptic and crystal clear, though Levin says, in the stunning 'Letter to GC,' 'I would be disingenuous if I said Ã¢Â€Â˜being understood' is not important to me.' Of course, what language we can find for grief is often ambivalent and complex, as these poems attest. Levin delves into esoteric mourning, burial, and religious practices 'They weren't really gods, they were/ Ã¢Â€Â˜emanations'Â ' resurfacing not so much with answers as, to paraphrase Frost, momentary stays against confusion. She finds little in the way of lasting comfort, but much permanent poetry. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
"Sky Burial brings a wealth of ritual and lore from various strains of Buddhism, as well as Mesoamerican and other spiritual traditions, all explained in ample, helpful notes that distinguish yamas from thangkas, and so on
the intensity and seriousness and openness of her investigations make [Dana] Levins use of this material utterly her own, and utterly riveting."—The New Yorker
After suffering three deaths in her family, Levin was prompted to write Sky Burial
About the Author
Dana Levin: Dana Levin has published two books of poetry, Wedding Day (Copper Canyon) and her first book, In the Surgical Theatre, which won the APR/Honickman Award in 1999. She is the Russo Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico, and also teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.