A Poet's Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov by Donna Hollenberg

By Donna Hollenberg

This primary full-length biography of Anglo- American poet and activist Denise Levertov (1923-1997) brings to existence one of many significant voices of the second one 1/2 the 20 th century, while American poetry used to be a robust impression all over the world. Drawing on exhaustive archival study and interviews with seventy five buddies of Levertov, in addition to on Levertov’s whole opus, Donna Krolik Hollenberg’s authoritative biography captures the total complexity of Levertov as either lady and artist, and the dynamic global she inhabited. She charts Levertov’s youth in England because the daughter of a Russian Hasidic father and a Welsh mom, her event as a nurse in London in the course of WWII, her marriage to an American after the battle, and her movement to manhattan urban the place she grew to become a massive determine within the American poetry scene. the writer chronicles Levertov’s function as a passionate social activist in risky occasions and her significance as a instructor of writing. eventually, Hollenberg indicates how the non secular size of Levertov’s poetry deepened towards the top of her lifestyles, in order that her ultimate volumes hyperlink lyric conception with political and non secular dedication.

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Every year, when Denise was a child, a “certain delicious apple called Cox’s Orange Pippin” would remind her father of the shtetl garden, where similar apples grew.  Like other boys of his time and place, Paul Levertoff began to study the Torah and Talmud at a very early age. He was taught by his father and in a traditional Hebrew primary school (cheder). He first encountered the New Testament and Jesus when he was eight or nine, on the way home from playing with friends. Levertov later recalled this family legend as follows: As he trudged homeward my father’s eye was caught by a scrap of printed paper lying in the gray, trampled snow.

Beatrice remembered Paul telling her that, while back in Russia, he stayed for a few days 16 Listening to Distant Guns in Vilna with relatives who secretly telegraphed his presence to his father. When the two were reunited, his father persuaded Paul to return home and was almost reconciled to his son’s baptism. But when they went to the synagogue, which Paul did willingly, his father tried to prevent him from disclosing to the congregation that he was now a Christian. Paul could not accept this denial, and he left home abruptly a second time.

Olga also worked as her father’s amanuensis, and for a period, got very involved in his ideas, studying Greek and theology in order to better understand them. She even “gave a sermon, wearing borrowed cap and gown, at a church whose vicar had been dazzled by ‘Dr. ’ ” Denise could not help but be impressed by—and, at times, understandably envious of—all this attention given her older sister. 2 “When Anna Screamed” Levertov’s Response to Nazi Oppression (1933–1939) Olga’s influence upon Denise was not confined to the arts.

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