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Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 24 September 2014

Denise LevertovA Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... The daughter​ of a schoolteacher from Wales and a Christianised Russian Jew, Denise Levertov was born in Essex and made her reputation in America writing poems in and about Mexico, Provence and North Vietnam. She was, one reviewer said, ‘incomparably the best poet of what is getting to be known as the new avant-garde’, and yet her radicalism was a matter of substance rather than style ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore, 23 September 2015

... What became​ of that wave of energy in the 1940s?’ Denise Levertov wondered in 1965, looking back on her place in Kenneth Rexroth’s 1947 anthology, New British Poets. ‘Many of the 1940s poets seem to have dropped right out of the scene.’ Was their ‘failure to develop’ their own fault, she wondered, or the result of a gigantic ‘failure of nerve’ in British publishing? In the manuscript of her lecture, a cancelled sentence names the missing; first on her list is Nicholas Moore ...

Kooked

Mark Ford, 10 March 1994

Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and Charles Olson. Of all these it was Charles Olson who engaged most directly and continuously with the implications of Pound’s poetics. The Maximus Poems can he read as a massive attempt to heal what Olson saw as ...

Reconstruction

Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... a whole lot of black and white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H.D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Colette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in ...

Real isn’t real

Michael Wood: Octavio Paz, 4 July 2013

The Poems of Octavio Paz 
edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.
New Directions, 606 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 8112 2043 9
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... himself, but there are also versions of individual poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Muriel Rukeyser and Charles Tomlinson. In the notes Weinberger has glossed allusions, and brought together, as my quotations have suggested, an illuminating set of comments by Paz himself. Paz’s recurring references are to Baudelaire and ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Adcock, Carol Rumens, Medbh McGuckian, Penelope Shuttle and others. Geoffrey Hill, Dannie Abse, Denise Levertov, Peter Red-grove, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gillian Clarke, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Elaine Feinstein are all variously represented, opening out the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties as a time of diversity and imaginative enterprise. One poet who ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 23 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... one of the most important artistic relationships of his life, a decades-long correspondence with Denise Levertov. By the end of the 1950s Duncan had already published several books, including a Selected Poems in 1959, but it was The Opening of the Field (1960) that marked his breakthrough as a poet. Convinced, with Pound, that in poetry ‘all ages are ...

Elegy for an Anarchist

George Woodcock, 19 January 1984

... he accepted it with Stendhalian calm, and it did not prevent him from promoting other poets, like Denise Levertov. In some ways, Rexroth remained a very regionally-minded man, as most anarchists are. He disliked the New York literary establishment, and the dislike was reciprocated; when, in the Forties, he decided to go east and conquer Greenwich ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood, 6 December 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... picked up and moved to New York. Lucia sold children’s ponchos and lived in the same building as Denise Levertov and was happy – wasn’t she? – until Buddy showed up one night with ‘a bottle of brandy and four tickets to Acapulco’. That is what, in this world, we call a gesture, and Lucia Berlin was a person on whom gestures were not ...

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