A Poet's Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov

Donna Krolik Hollenberg. Univ. of California, $44.95 (510p) ISBN 978-0-520-27246-0
Diaries, letters, and span of 20 books keep Hollenberg (H.D.: The Poetics of Childbirth and Creativity) focused on the interior life of poet Levertov, her former teacher, in this comprehensive biography where poems are "the most important ‘facts'". Poetry was "holy" to Levertov, who committed faithfully to writing at 16. From a girlhood in Essex just before WWII, marriage to Mitch Goodman and its dissolution in America, death of her difficult older sister Olga, to a burgeoning sense of political activism, experiences are secondary, in Hollenberg's hands, to their contexts behind the poems. With surprises for Levertov's most ardent readers (she wrote the playful prose behind an illustrated book about Sylvia the pig), the account should also fascinate American poetry aficionados as Levertov intersects with luminaries (William Carlos Williams, Adrienne Rich, and Robert Creeley, among others) both in intense friendship and occasional quarrel. When describing a rift between Levertov and old friend Robert Duncan in light of their poetic responses to the Vietnam War, Hollenberg considerately points out that Levertov hoped the friendship would reignite "spontaneously" if they met on the street. Questions of identity and the poet's role in the world are touchstones to which Levertov (and her biographer) often return, making this journey worthwhile. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Open Ebook - 532 pages - 978-0-520-95478-6
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