The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams

Denise Levertov, Author, William Carlos Williams, Author, Christopher MacGowan, Editor New Directions Publishing Corporation $24.95 (163p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1392-9
Much of the warmth and literary force in this brief book is due to the remarkable poet Denise Levertov. So great was her energy and life force, even in her early 70s, that the writer's friends were shocked by her sudden death last year. Levertov and Williams began corresponding when Levertov was still in her 20s and Williams already a sixtyish veteran of the modernist scene, yet it was clear who was teaching whom: a woman of powerful certainties, Levertov soon had Williams altering lines in his published plays. In one 1960 letter, he writes after her visit, ""Your criticism of my own shortcomings is noted. I'll pay attention to what you say."" And he soon became a one-man cheering section for her accomplishments; after recommending her three times for Guggenheim Fellowships, he crowed when she finally won in 1962: ""No one ever deserved a Gug more than you!"" Their letters do not consist only of literary matters; the poets also discussed the basic enjoyment of life--as when Levertov advises the elder poet, ""Did you ever see N.Y. from one of the really high buildings? It's worth doing."" Also ""worth doing"" as a life-enhancing experience is reading this charming and affectionate correspondence. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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