Some devastation has struck the soul and the Earth alike, and in "Enola Gay", his second volume of poems, Mark Levine surveys the disaster. Here is a volume of poetry approaching Carolyn Forche's The Angel of History as a stark meditation on Blanchot's sense of writing as the 'desired, undesired torment which endures everything'. Levine engages the traditional resources of lyric poetry in an exploration of historical and cultural landscapes ravaged by imponderable events. Enola Gay's 'mission' can seem spiritual, imaginative, and militaristic as the speaker in these poems surveys marshes and fields and a land on the edge of disintegration. Levine sifts the psychological residue that accumulates in the wake of unspeakable acts and so negotiates that terrain between the banality of language and the need to stand witness and to speak.Levine's stunning second book, with its grave cultural implications and its surveillance of a distinctly postmodern malaise, offers multiple readings. Here are compact poems with uncanny power, rhythm, and a strange, formal beauty echoing and renewing the legacy of Wallace Stevens for a new era.
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(210mm x 140mm x 6mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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US Kirkus Review »
Levine is the author of a previous collection of poetry, Debt. He received a fellowship from the NEA and teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. As a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and Outside, he has reported on environmental, social, and cultural concerns. Early on in this work, Levine presents several interesting excursions into the nebulous time of the ``Great War,' when disease and disaster have ravaged the land and the gods were otherwise engaged ``pondering the sky from which they long ago fell.' One is reminded of the dreamlike, post-apocalyptic world of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's short story ``The Portable Phonograph': Levine certainly seems to shares Clark's conviction that mankind is fated to self-destruction and that, in a spiritual sense, it has already happened. Theirs is a gloomy doom of ashes and wastelands, damaged souls, and the broken contraptions of a civilization on whose grave they dance almost gleefully. Yet despite a promising start, Levine soon lapses into a private symbolism that becomes all too tedious to dissect. Picture, if you will, three Rod Serling Twilight Zone scripts about the end of the world, diced and blended and spliced, with every third word then expunged just in case any of it begins to make sense for longer than it takes to wind a melting watch. After a time, even Dali's landscapes appear habitable, if only because we have been there so many times before, haven't weor is this all just dark dj vu dreaming and shadowy foreboding? If you've been to one Armageddon, you've been to them all. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Mark Levine
Mark Levine is author of Debt, Jorie Graham's selection for publication in the National Poetry Series in 1993. He has received a Whiting Writers Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. In 1994-1995 he was the Hodder Fellow in the Humanities at Princeton. He teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. As a contributor to The New Yorker and Outside, Levine has reported on cultural, environmental, and social issues on four continents.