Denise Levertov

'What would I want to do? Hide myself?'

Aaron Shurin's life testament to poetry

“The impulse is toward discovery of meaning, including the discovery of oneself,” Aaron Shurin explains when asked in an interview with Lily Iona MacKenzie about his comfort including personal details while writing his memoir collection King of Shadows. He continues, “So there is no act that shame will try to cover — and this is very much under the tutelage of [Robert] Duncan. There is no shame.

'A little slice of poetry turf'

Angel Hair archive, continued

for George Schneeman poem AH issue 3

Angel Hair was born in the “backseat of a car [as we were] driving from Bennington to New York,” Warsh says in his introductory essay to the Angel Hair feature in Jacket. Waldman and Warsh were driving with Georges Guy, a French professor at Bennington, and once they'd made the decision to publish Angel Hair, Guy offered them his and Kenneth Koch's translation of Pierre Reverdy's poem, “Fires Smouldering Under Winter.” The Reverdy poem begins the first issue, and the line, “Could it be enough to speak a word in this abyss,” perfectly captures the gesture of launching a literary magazine.

The Fales Library Angel Hair archive

Angel Hair 1 Cover

It feels both hugely restorative and humbling, in our age of digital media, to visit an archive and hold a fifty year-old literary magazine, carefully made and preserved, yet still fleetingly physical, in your hand. Anne Waldman, co-editor (with Lewish Warsh) of the small magazine Angel Hair, describes the significance of that experience in this quote from her introductory essay to the 2002 Angel Hair feature in Jacket: “ ephemera, lovingly and painstakingly produced, have tremendous power. They signify meticulous human attention and intelligence, like the outline of a hand in a Cro-Magnon cave.” This “tremendous power” can be applied specifically to Angel Hair, which published the work of Ted Berrigan, Denise Levertov, Joe Brainard, Michael Brownstein, and Warsh and Waldman themselves, among others, early in their lives as poets.

Denise Levertov feature

In Jacket 36

Denise Levertov, 1923–1997: Photo by Jonathan Williams, 1957
Denise Levertov, 1923–1997: Photo by Jonathan Williams, 1957

Feature: Denise Levertov
Also see: Denise Levertov (poem): Eros, in Jacket 16
Also see: Robert J. Bertholf: From Robert Duncan’s Notebooks: On Denise Levertov, in Jacket 28
Also see: Robert J. Bertholf: The Robert Duncan / Denise Levertov Correspondence: Duncan’s View, in Jacket 28
Editor: Kevin Gallagher. From his Introduction:
Levertov had numerous careers as a poet, and each has made a lasting mark on a different poetry community. This collection has at least one discussion of each of these periods, except a discussion of her neo-Romantic British period. Here you can find memoirs and reflections on her work by friends, criticism by scholars and biographers who may have never known her, and tributes from afar.
Kevin Gallagher:Templum: Introduction to Denise Levertov Feature

Levertov here and there

We don't have any recordings of Denise Levertov yet in PennSound, but Levertov appears, one way or another, here and there throughout our archive. Robert Creeley talks about her (with me at the Writers House). Ken Irby reads one of her poems. John Weiners in 1965 at Berkeley reads a poem dedicated to her. Albert Gelpi talks with Leonard Schwartz about the letters of Duncan and Levertov. And a letter Duncan wrote Levertov as he was finishing the poem "Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow" is discussed in passing in our Duncan PoemTalk episode.

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