New & Selected Essays

Denise Levertov, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $18.95 (266p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1218-2
What I might write five years from now could be as different from what I say now as that is from what I might have written five years ago, although the direction of my development has, I believe, been consistent, Levertov asserts in a 1984 essay that responded to a question about her religious beliefs. It is a statement that might be applied to the majority of the concepts embodied in the 30-year period these skillful but repetitive essays span, and this volume is arranged to highlight subtle shifts in thought. For the most part, Levertov explores and questions her own poetics, which are themselves a unique blend of her English schooling (Gerard Manley Hopkins) and American poetic influences (William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan). A 1965 essay that is basically levertov's attempt to understand Charles Olson's theory of projective verse is placed next to a 1986 essay in which she makes a case for new ways of defining poetic form. One crucial theme repeated in various ways throughout these essays is her belief that the great work of art is always greater than the consciousness of its author. Such a statement made by a lesser poet might sound naive; Levertov's poems bear witness to its validity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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