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Previous Lives, Red Mountain, 97 pp., 2018

$19.95 $15.00

Previous Lives: New and Selected Early Poems cherry-picks poems from this widely-published poet’s 40 year career. Arranged to flow thematically rather than chronologically, selections from his first 8 books are interspersed with previously uncollected poems in 97 pages. The book showcases Levering’s broad stylistic range. Free-verse partners with pantoum, ghazal, and blank verse. Tight, imagist gems nest beside Whitmanesque declamatory odes. The title is at play where the speaker portrays various lives: a snow-plow driver, a highway surveyor, a man who steals subway trains, a prisoner in a Borges story, a stroke-afflicted astrologer, a Navajo healer, a kachina doll salesman. Humorous paeans to Roethke, Bly, and Freud lend levity to a text that witnesses estrangement and war. Ravens, plants, and fungi are also featured in this former groundskeeper’s retrospective.

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Previous Lives: New and Selected Early Poems cherry-picks poems from this widely-published poet’s 40 year career. Arranged to flow thematically rather than chronologically, selections from his first 8 books are interspersed with previously uncollected poems in 97 pages. The book showcases Levering’s broad stylistic range. Free-verse partners with pantoum, ghazal, and blank verse. Tight, imagist gems nest beside Whitmanesque declamatory odes. The title is at play where the speaker portrays various lives: a snow-plow driver, a highway surveyor, a man who steals subway trains, a prisoner in a Borges story, a stroke-afflicted astrologer, a Navajo healer, a kachina doll salesman. Humorous paeans to Roethke, Bly, and Freud lend levity to a text that witnesses estrangement and war. Ravens, plants, and fungi are also featured in this former groundskeeper’s retrospective.