blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2010  Vol. 9  No. 2

Reading Loop Introduction and Table of Contents


Larry Levis
   Caravaggio: Swirl & Vortex

 Peter Campion
   1989: Death on the Nile
   The Lions

Nicky Beer
   The Inhuman Witness: Animals
      in the Poetry of Larry Levis

Peter Campion
   As if in the Sleep of the Other

Matt Donovan
   Unreality & Real Distress: Ekphrasis and
      Emotion in the Poems of Larry Levis

James Hoch
   Coming Through: The Intensity and
      Intimacy of Levis and Caravaggio

Anna Journey
   Seducing the Nymph from the Tree:
      Larry Levis, Metamorphosis, and Elegy

David St. John
   A Reading by David St. John audio

Philip Levine
   A Reading by Philip Levine audio

13th Annual Levis Prize Reading audio
   A poetry reading by Peter Campion
   introduced by L.T. Oggel, David Wojahn,
   and Gregory Donovan.

Peter Campion
   A Conversation With Peter Campion audio

Levis: A Celebration
   Levis: A Celebration Conference Poster


Welcome to Blackbird’s ninth Levis Remembered, a visit with the poetry and voice of Larry Levis and an introduction to the thirteenth annual Levis Reading Prize winner, Peter Campion. This year, we also feature proceedings from Larry Levis: A Celebration, a three-day conference that marked the acquisition of his papers by the James Branch Cabell Library.

The prize is given by Larry’s family and 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.

The conference took place September 22–24, 2010, and featured a keynote reading by Philip Levine, Larry’s literary friend and former teacher. This reading as well as David St. John’s kick-off reading and the proceedings of the Levis Reading Prize evening that includes a reading by Peter Campion are published here. These events were bracketed by several days of panels and discussion from a remarkable group of participating poets and editors. Papers presented at the panels by Nicky Beer, Peter Campion, Matt Donovan, James Hoch, and Anna Journey appear here as well, and recordings of other events will join them as features during the life of the issue.

The remarkable gathering of poets, editors, and literary commentators—friends of Larry Levis and admirers of his work—who participated in the conference, included Michael Collier, Stanley Plumly, Dave Smith, Kathleen Graber, and David Wojahn, as well as Sam Pereira, Nicky Beer, Gregory Donovan, Matt Donovan, Mary Flinn, James Hoch, Julia Johnson, Anna Journey, Alexander Long, J. Randy Marshall, Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, Ron Smith, Sheila Brady, Kent Levis, and Amy Tudor, among others.

The conference was made possible by the generous support of Carole Weinstein, the Levis family, New Virginia Review, Inc., VCU Libraries, James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU Friends of the Library, VCU College of Humanities & Sciences, VCU Department of English, Blackbird, VCU MFA in Creative Writing Program, VCU School of the Arts, VCU Honors College, WCVE, Barnes and Noble@VCU, David Freed, Joan Gaustad, Myron Helfgott, and Mamma Zu restaurant.

Larry’s work is quoted at some length in the published essays, but we have also chosen to highlight “Caravaggio: Swirl & Vortex” which originally appeared in The Widening Spell of the Leaves (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991). A recording of Larry reading the poem accompanies it.

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