Larry Levis Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Larry Levis (LEH-vihs) primarily wrote poetry, much of his nonfiction prose is collected in The Gazer Within (2001), a volume in the Poets on Poetry series from the University of Michigan Press. The collection includes the title essay “Some Notes on the Gazer Within,” originally published in 1980. Levis and his wife, Marcia Southwick, each contributed half of the fourteen prose poems that constitute The Leopard’s Mouth Is Dry and Cold Inside. Sound recordings of Levis include a reading given on the program New Letters on the Air, broadcast in October of 1977, and a recording made with poet Thylias Moss in February, 1991, at the Library of Congress. A work of fiction, Black Freckles: Stories, was published in 1992.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Recognized early in his career as an outstanding young poet, Larry Levis received the International Poetry Forum United States Award for Wrecking Crew as well as a YM-YWHA Discovery Award, both in 1971. The success of his first volume of poetry led to increased recognition in the form of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1973. Within three years, he won the Lamont Poetry Selection, given in 1976 for The Afterlife. A third major work, The Dollmaker’s Ghost, won the Open Competition of the National Poetry Series in 1980. Levis received two additional fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to Yugoslavia.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Buckley, Christopher, and Alexander Long, eds. A Condition of the Spirit: The Life and Work of Larry Levis. Spokane, Wash.: Eastern Washington University Press, 2004. This work contains reviews, essays, interviews, and meditations by more than forty American poets covering aspects of Levis’s life and work. Contains twelve previously unpublished essays by Levis.

Gilbert, Sandra M. “Where the Boys Are.” Poetry 178 (July, 2001): 216-237. The final section of this essay asserts that Levis’s work is representative of poetry as written in the United States over the last three decades of the twentieth century.

Halliday, Mark. “Levis and All Loss.” Chicago Review 45 (Winter, 1999): 89-98. A revealing critical study of Elegy in which Halliday regrets the looseness of some associations in the work but claims that Levis’s expansive achievement is the result of that same universalizing approach.

Levis, Larry. “After the Obsession with Some Beloved Figure: An Interview with Larry Levis.” Interview by Leslie Kelen. Antioch Review 48 (Summer, 1990): 284-299. A long interview in which Levis freely discusses his writing from its early stages through Winter Stars.