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Book Title

The Darkening Trapeze

Last Poems
Author 1
Larry Levis; Edited by David St. John
Poem Excerpt
The empty bar that someone was supposed to swing to him
Did not arrive, & so his outstretched flesh itself became
A darkening trapeze. The two other acrobats were thieves.

                        —from “Elegy with a Darkening Trapeze inside It”
The Darkening Trapeze collects the last poems by Larry Levis, written during the extraordinary blaze of his final years when his poetry expanded into the ambitious, operatic masterpieces he is known for. Edited and with an afterword by David St. John and published twenty years after Levis’s death, this collection contains major unpublished works, including final elegies, brief lyrics, and a coda believed to be the last poem Levis wrote, a heart-wrenching poem about his son. The Darkening Trapeze is an astonishing collection by a poet many consider to be among the greatest of late twentieth-century American poetry.

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“Levis was a master of lyrical thinking. He was our Whitman for the late twentieth century.”—Terrance Hayes

About the Author

Larry  Levis
Credit: Jay Paul
Larry Levis (1946–1996) was the award-winning author of five poetry collections during his lifetime, including Winter Stars and The Widening Spell of the Leaves, and the posthumous collections The Darkening Trapeze, Elegy and The Selected Levis.
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David St. John is the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Face: A Novella in VersePrism, and Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the co-editor of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry. He edited The Selected Levis and The Darkening Trapeze: Last Poems by Larry Levis. He teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
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  • “The humane poems found here still exhibit Levis’s exceptional sensitivity and bursts of emotional weather.”The New York Times Book Review
  • “Levis’s sensitivity and social consciousness are on display in this elegiac work.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • “Fans of Larry Levis will delight in the publication of The Darkening Trapeze. . . . [which] demonstrates [his] intensity and singular voice.”The Washington Post
  • The Darkening Trapeze is . . . a critical addition to 20th century American poetry. It does what poetry is supposed to do, which is to enrich our lives by looking at the world around us, capturing that world on the page, and make us better, more grateful human beings.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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