Two Poems by Larry Levis
Blackbird presents here two poems by Larry Levis.
The first, "Elegy with a Thimbleful of Water in the Cage" was originally published in the Southern Review, then in the collection Elegy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997). The video of Levis reading it was recorded at the University of Iowa in the early 1990s. The audio recording was made in Winchester, Virginia, in March of 1996.
The second poem, titled here "The Space," is previously unpublished. "The Space" was found on Larry Levis's computer after his death among a great body of work which included unpublished poems and fragments of poems as well as finished poems, some of which were selected by Philip Levine for inclusion in Elegy. As with many of the pieces that were in progress when Levis died, "The Space" echoes recurrent and repeated themes that run through Elegy. Levis's composition process included moving around substantial sections from one poem in progress to another, and sometimes a section lifted from a completed poem would then become the germ of an entirely new work. It is possible that "The Space" was one of the pieces left after the removal to another work of a section which may have included a more clearly unifying idea or narrative. Still, even considered as a substantial fragment, "The Space" may well include more powerful poetry than many reputedly finished works by less imaginative, less passionate writers.