cover image Making Peace

Making Peace

Denise Levertov. New Directions Publishing Corporation, $9 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8112-1640-1

This gathering of anti-war poems culled from 11 of Levertov's (1923-1997) previous books examines our culpability for ""disasters / witnessed but / not suffered in the flesh"" in poems about the Vietnam War, the nuclear arms race and up through the first war in the Gulf. With the intensity of deja; vu, this slim volume details circumstances uncannily similar to our present situation, and by refuting the notion that war happens elsewhere and to other people, Levertov contends we are so infected by the logic of war, ""nothing we say has not the husky phlegm of it in the saying."" To describe the reality of war as we most often experience it-vicariously-Levertov employs the language of television and newspapers, simultaneously describing war's intimate brutality and our distance from it: ""'...fifty to seventy/ thousand killed/ in the trenches.'"" While readers will face ""those foul / dollops of History / each day thrusts at us,"" throughout the collection, Levertov is as adept at imagining peace as she is at describing war, making this book a galvanizing force for our troubled times and a moving introduction to the work of a major poet.