In celebration of National Poetry Month, every day we're posting a new poem from the spoken-word album Poetic License, a three-CD set that features one hundred performers of stage and screen reading one hundred poems selected by the actors themselves. From Shakespeare and Dickinson to Lucille Clifton and Allen Ginsberg, the lineup spans contemporary American poetry and classics of the Western canon.
Denise Levertov (1923–1997), who was educated by her mother at home in her native England, was a poet of sociopolitical consciousness and linguistic precision. Her works include the poetry collections The Double Image (Cresset Press, 1946), With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (1959), O Taste and See (1964), and This Great Unknowing: Last Poems (1999), as well as the essay collections The Poet in the World (1973) and Light Up the Cave (1981), all published by New Directions, whose founder, the late James Laughlin, called Levertov "the best of the organic form poets."
Peter Friedman has appeared in film, television, and on Broadway, most recently in Twelve Angry Men. He has also played in Ragtime, The Tenth Man, and Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize–winning play The Heidi Chronicles.
"Psalm Concerning the Castle" by Denise Levertov, from Poetic License produced by Glen Roven. Copyright © 2010 by GPR Records. Used with permission of GPR Records.
The published correspondence of famous poets often accounts for more real estate on bookstore shelves than their books of poems. The letters of Ezra Pound, for example, are collected in nearly 30 volumes published primarily by university presses over the last three decades. For academic scholars who spend their weekends in the special-collections rooms of libraries, the value of these books is obvious. But what are they worth to the general reader, or the practicing poet?
Need a dose of inspiration for your writing routine this April? Take our Poetry Challenge and try out a new writing prompt or poetry-related assignment every day during National Poetry Month.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant worth a little more than two hundred thousand dollars to the Poetry Collection at SUNY, Buffalo, that will allow the Libraries department to digitize and catalogue its audio collection.