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The Widening Spell of the Leaves


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About 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 Lamo


These long poems join fragments of past pk events with present-day observations, creating gauzy reveries that lure the reader into the poet's dreamy consciousness. What Levis ( Winter Stars ) sees as he looks back is a life populated with images of blankness and extinction, pointing up that we are merely temporary residents in the void that is existence, ``ticking away into / what we can do nothing about.'' Experience occurs as a series of existential still-lifes, frozen moments in time. Remembering a trip to Oaxaca, Levis recalls the ``hush of the mountains above the . . . hush / Of the plaza . . . the / hush that is / Held in paintings the way a breath is held, but held / forever.'' In another poem, Levis asks what it means to be American. He answers: ``It means, mostly, to go unnoticed . . . to type behind a / desk all day where no one / Sees you . . . . To perform your whole life in a silence.'' If Levis's transitions are sometimes unclear, his images are always pk piquant, particularly the final one of this powerful collection: ``Riding beside me, your seat belt around your invisible / waist. Sweet Nothing. Sweet, sweet Nothing.'' (July)

"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
"Establishes him indisputably and once and for all as one of the younger masters."
--North American Review

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