blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


PIVOT POINTS  |  Poet Biographies


Larry Levis published five collections of poems during his lifetime, the most recent of which was The Widening Spell of the Leaves (University of Pittsburgh, 1991), as well as a book of short stories, Black Freckles (1992). A collection of new poems, Elegy (1997), The Selected Levis: Poems 1972-1992 (2000), also from Pittsburgh, and The Gazer Within (University of Michigan Press, 2001), a collection of essays, appeared posthumously. At the time of his death in 1996, Levis was professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. His awards include the U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum, a Lamont Prize, and selection for the National Poetry Series. Levis received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an individual artist's grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. In 1989, he was a senior Fulbright fellow in Yugoslavia. Through teaching and creative writing workshops, he was a mentor to many, including Laura-Gray Street and Joshua Poteat. Through his writings he indirectly influenced many writers, along with Gregory Donovan and Elizabeth Morgan.


Dave Smith is the author of seventeen books of poetry, including, most recently, The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000 (Louisiana State University, 2000); Floating on Solitude: Three Volumes of Poetry (University of Illinois, 1996); Fate’s Kite: Poems 1991-1995 (1996); Cuba Night (Quill, 1990); three books of criticism; and two works of fiction. Among Smith’s many honors are fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, an Award of Excellence from the American Academy and Institute for Arts and Letters, the Prairie Schooner Reader’s Award, and nominations for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, for which he was twice a finalist. Smith is editor of the Southern Messenger Signature Poets series of Louisiana State University Press and for many years was co-editor of Southern Review. He is presently Elliot Coleman Professor of Poetry at Johns Hopkins University and has previously taught at the University of Utah; the State University of New York at Binghamton; the Summer Creative Writing Program at Bennington College in Vermont; the University of Florida; Virginia Commonwealth University, and Louisiana State University. He taught Elizabeth Morgan and Gregory Donovan.


Gregory Donovan, a senior editor of Blackbird, is one of the founding faculty members of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has taught for twenty years. He has won the Robert Penn Warren Award sponsored by New England Writers (judged by Rosanna Warren), as well as grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and fellowships from the Ucross Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Donovan's poetry collection, Calling His Children Home, was the 1993 Devins Award winner from University of Missouri Press. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Kenyon Review. His poetry has been anthologized, most recently in Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (University of Virginia, 2003). Donovan is the writer-in-residence for the Virginia Commonwealth University Glasgow Artists and Writers Workshop. He mentored Joshua Poteat when Poteat was a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
is the author of four books of poetry: Language, a limited edition with prints by artist Laura Pharis, and three collections from Louisiana State University Press: Parties (1988 and recently released in a new edition), The Governor of Desire (1993), and On Long Mountain (1998), a finalist for the Library of Virginia Poetry Prize; a fifth collection, Without a Philosophy, is forthcoming from LSU. She has been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her poems have recently appeared in The Southern Review, Five Points, Shenandoah, Blackbird, and The Cortland Review and on the Library of Congress Poetry website, Poetry180. She taught literature and creative writing at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, and has also been an adjunct professor of poetry at University of Richmond, Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University, and Writer-in-Residence at Randolph Macon Woman’s College.
Morgan received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied with Dave Smith. She began mentoring Laura-Gray Street when Street was a young writer.

Laura-Gray Street has received a poetry fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Dana Award in Poetry. Her poems have been published in Shenandoah, Meridian, the Notre Dame Review, the Yalobusha Review, New Virginia Review, and Blackbird, among other venues. She was commissioned in 1999 to write a libretto for the New York Festival of Song. Street is assistant professor of English at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She holds a BA from Hollins University, an MA from the University of Virginia, and an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, where she studied formally with Larry Levis and in workshops with Dave Smith. Elizabeth Morgan has been an inspirational role model.
Joshua Poteat was recently named the winner of the 2004 Anhinga Press Poetry Prize; his manuscript will be published by Anhinga in 2005. He has also won the National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America (judged by Mary Oliver), as well as awards from American Literary Review, Nebraska Review, Marlboro Review, Columbia, Bellingham Review, Yemassee, Lullwater Review, and Universities West Press. He has been the Summer Writer-in-Residence at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center and was awarded an Individual Artist's Grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, as well as fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Catskill Writing Workshop. Poteat lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he edits assorted texts, including art criticism in collaboration with the art historian Dr. Robert Hobbs. A 1997 MFA graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, he studied with Gregory Donovan and Larry Levis.


   Notes and Acknowledgments
   Levis Reading Loop