blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1

Reading Loop Introduction and Table of Contents


Larry Levis
   The Girl Who Was A Victim of the Flood
   The Leopard’s Mouth Is Dry And Cold Inside
   The Plains
   Toad, Hog, Assassin, Mirror
   The Zoo

Images of Levis
   Levis at Laurel and China III
   Levis in Hat

Christopher Buckley
   The Lost Prose Poems of Larry Levis

Katherine Larson
   new poems
   Nursery Rhyme from Another Century
   Such Insomnia and the Shape
   Piano Lessons II

   poems from Radial Symmetry
   The Oranges in Uganda
   Water Clocks

15th Annual Levis Reading Prize
   A Reading by Katherine Larson
   A Conversation with Katherine Larson

Emilia Phillips
   Review | Radial Symmetry, by Katherine Larson


Welcome to Blackbird’s eleventh Levis Remembered, a visit with the poetry of Larry Levis and an introduction to the fifteenth annual Levis Reading Prize winner, Katherine Larson. The prize is given by the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University to the author of a first or second book of poems chosen by VCU’s panel of judges. Join us in discovering Katherine Larson’s remarkable poems and in remembering Larry’s matchless witness to the last decades of the twentieth century.

Each fall Blackbird calls attention to some aspect of Larry’s work, and this year we republish seven prose poems originally collected in the chapbook The Leopard’s Mouth Is Dry and Cold Inside. Christopher Buckley’s essay “The Lost Prose Poems of Larry Levis” accompanies the poems.

As Buckley notes, “the prose poem was a form Larry used previously, most notably in his very well known poem—originally published in Field—‘Linnets’ which was the last poem in his 1976 Lamont Winning book, The Afterlife.”

The essay dates the writing of these pieces to 1976–77, shortly before the publication of The Afterlife, and thus still operating more in the surrealist and elliptical manner of the poems of Wrecking Crew than in the more direct style that begins to emerge in “Linnets.”

These poems thus provide a glimpse of Larry’s changing view of the import of poetry, as his exploration of the form rehearses ways in which subject matter rooted in the factual and concrete world, for him implicit in the nature of prose, can begin to find its legs within the framework of imagistic language.

Included as well in Levis Remembered is an image from the ongoing street-art homage to Larry. We will continue to share these images as we come across them. We invite you to enter Larry’s work, both in Blackbird and in his books, and we thank his sister, Sheila Brady, and his son, Nick Levis, for the opportunity to recognize him here.  end

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