Preface by Robert Creeley
This new, comprehensive selection of one of America’s foremost modern poets draws on two dozen collections published over six decades. Edited by Paul A. Lacey, it replaces her earlier Bloodaxe Selected Poems (1986), and includes selections from both her earlier work and from the six later collections published by Bloodaxe in Britain, from Oblique Prayers to the posthumously published Sands of the Well and This Great Unknowing.
‘This generous selection brings news of Levertov’s final achievement. Here we can observe, from poems which span the decades, how this most private artist became a great and abiding public poet. As we read, her superb language and wayward music burn themselves into our minds and memories. In every time there are just a few poets whose work – for its sheer lyric conscience – carries poetry safely into the future. Denise Levertov, as this book shows, is one of them’ – Eavan Boland.
‘A touchstone, a maintainer for our generation. She was a constantly defining presence in the world we shared, a remark-able and transforming poet for all of us’ – Robert Creeley.
‘Denise Levertov was musical, fierce, absolute in her honesty and for us, her public, as indispensable as any modern poet… Her work was, and is, a brave gift for us all’ – Mary Oliver.
‘Levertov’s mastery – more than mastery, because she is one of the originators – of contemporary poetic form, informed with a fierce, generous intelligence can be frightening’ – Ursula le Guin, Washington Post
‘What characterises Denise Levertov’s poetry is an untiring creativity, a freshness and sense of urgency. She wrote lyrical, celebratory poems, and poems that found hard-hitting and appropriate imagery for the horrors of our time. Her work has a wide range, defying the notion that poets can be categorised as “nature poet” and “war poet”. There is a consistent clarity in her voice and a spareness in her language. She was a mystical poet who wrote assertively of the spiritual, and a political poet who continued to find images to make us think’ – Cynthia Fuller, The Independent
Denise Levertov reads six poems
Denise Levertov reads six poems from her later collections, three from Evening Train (1992) and three later included in her posthumously published collection Sands of the Well (1998). This is an extract from an hour-long reading she gave for the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles on 7 December 1993 (and we thank the Lannan Foundation for their kind permission to post this video). The poems are: 'Settling', 'Open Secret', 'Tragic Error', 'The Danger Moment', 'A Gift' and 'For Those Whom the Gods Love Less', three of which were later included in her New Selected Poems (2003).