Yesterday, in Part One of my review of the major new biography, Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life, by Dana Greene, I focused on Greene’s information and insights into Levertov’s life. Today I turn to the other term of the book’s sub-title: the poet.
Since Greene is writing a biography, not a work of literary criticism, her interest is in how Levertov’s extraordinary body of poetry both shaped and was shaped by her life experience. Indeed, Levertov’s life and art were unusually integrated.
Greene quotes one of Levertov’s colleagues after her death: “She was a unique presence because in her… everything came together in an organic whole—poetry, religion, history and politics, the natural world and people.”
From childhood, Denise sensed her vocation as a poet. At age twelve, she boldly sent some poems to T.S. Eliot. He replied encouragingly, re-enforcing her vocational identity. [Read more...]