2013 Denise Levertov
20th Century American Poet
Issue Date: April 21, 2012
City: Los Angeles, CA
Printed By: Ashton Potter
Printing Method: Offset
Perforations: Die cut 10 ¾ x 11
British by birth, Denise Levertov (1923-97) was captivated by the American writing style, and eventually became one of the leading U.S. poets.
Levertov was educated at home by her mother. She declared at the age of five that she would be a writer. When she was 12, Levertov sent a collection of her poems to famed writer T. S. Eliot, who responded with a two-page letter encouraging her to follow this path.
Religion and politics were instrumental in Levertov’s upbringing. Her father was a Russian Hassidic Jew who became an Anglican priest. And her father, mother, and sister had all stood on soapboxes protesting causes.
When Levertov moved to America in 1948, she was influenced by the Black Mountain poets. During the 1960s and 70s, her work was strongly political – she felt it was the poet’s calling to discuss the injustice of the Vietnam War. Her poems often detailed suffering, to show how violence had become part of everyday life.
After converting to Christianity, Levertov’s poetry focused more on religion. The early part of this spiritual journey explored doubt and a concern of nothingness. Over time, this evolved into an acceptance of paradoxes.
While she was inspired by the humble and commonplace, one critic claimed Levertov was “fitted by birth and political destiny to voice the terrors and pleasures of the twentieth century.” 20th century.