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A Condition of the Spirit
The Life and Work of Larry Levis
Christopher Buckley, Alexander Long

Eastern Washington University
2004 • 680 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Literary Collections / Poetry / Poetry - American / Larry Levis

$27.95 Paperback, 978-0-910055-92-5

Reviews, essays, and interviews by American poets affected by Larry Levis, as well as essays by Levis.

The untimely death of Larry Levis in 1996 left the world of American poetry stunned and dismayed. His work was of such depth and such amazing resonance, that it was admired and studied by an entire generation of poets and readers, regardless of esthetic or cultural predispositions. Levis's poems crossed borders, broke down barriers, and invited a sharing of the strange, sweet loneliness of being that is the fundamental human lot. A Condition of the Spirit brings together reviews, essays, interviews, and mediations by more than forty American poets profoundly affected by Levis's life and work. But that's not all: the book also contains twelve previously uncollected essays by Levis himself, making it a handbook for the study of the poet's thinking on the craft of poetry and the craft of life.

Contributors to the collection include Philip Levine, Charles Wright, Diane Wakoski, Stephen Dunn, David St. John, Peter Everwine, Dave Smith, Stephen Sandy, Nancy Eimers, Peter Stitt, David Wojahn, Paul Zimmer, Sandra Gilbert, David Young, and Gerald Stern.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"I had to stop and tell the audience what I had to tell myself, that my brother in poetry, my dear friend, had died, and that I owed the lines I had just read to Larry Levis. I did not tell them that for thirty years his fierce devotion to his art had served as my inspiration and model. I did not tell them that I found in his poetry an originality and daring that urged me to risk more in my own writing. I did not tell them that when I am weary of the mediocrity and smallness of so much that passes for poetry I go to Larry's work and revive my belief in the value of the art we shared . . . The Dollmaker's Ghost, Winter Stars, and The Widening Spell of the Leaves . . . are collections of poetry that will last as long as our language survives . . ."—Philip Levine

"An inestimable loss. . . . His last book, Elegy, is stunningly beautiful and prescient. A major talent at the brink of its majority. . . . He remains . . . the pride of his generation, sharp-edged and shining, his only ambition for his poems, and his poems alone. The right stuff, for sure."—Charles Wright

From the Book:

This is a testament to the life and work, the genius and exceptional poetic gift of Larry Levis. It comes in second, of course, to the poetry itself, which testifies not only to the rare and original light of Larry's life and his imagination and skills, but also to that light as a gift to us all, a gift touching a shared illumination in us all.

It was not difficult to find our title. In an interview with Leslie Kelen (which appears in Section I), Kelen asks Larry if he can pinpoint precisely what attracted him to poetry in his formative years as a writer. And Larry, in the candid and sincere manner we have come to recognize from his poetry, replies: "I'm not sure I can except that it gave voice to a kind of adolescent loneliness or alienation I felt. And it made sense of things. It was also incredibly beautiful. I mean, the language moving into that state of being where it was a condition, or is a condition, of the spirit. It seemed utterly convincing."

—from the Introduction

CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY teaches in the creative writing department at the University of California, Riverside. He has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, most recently in 2001; a Fulbright Award to Yugoslavia; and four Pushcart Pries. Among his twelve books of poetry are Closer to Home (2003) and Star Apocrypha (2001).

ALEXANDER LONG's poems, essays and book reviews have appeared in American Writers, Quarterly West, Pleiades, Third Coast and 5am. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he makes his living as a teacher and musician.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:08:31 -0500