A doctor contemplates Lenin's embalmed body; two angels flank an open chest during a heart transplant; a father's anger turns into a summer thunderstorm... Each of Levin's poems is an astonishing investigation of human darkness, propelled by a sensuous syntax and a desire for healing."This is the language of a prophet: Levin's art, in this book certainly, takes place in aA doctor contemplates Lenin's embalmed body; two angels flank an open chest during a heart transplant; a father's anger turns into a summer thunderstorm... Each of Levin's poems is an astonishing investigation of human darkness, propelled by a sensuous syntax and a desire for healing."This is the language of a prophet: Levin's art, in this book certainly, takes place in a kind of mutating day of judgment: it means to wipe a film from our eyes. It is a dare, a challenge, and, for all its considerable beauty, the opposite of the seductive...Sensuous, compassionate, violent, extravagant: what an amazing debut this is, a book of terrors and marvels."-Louise Gluck, from the IntroductionDana Levin was raised in Lancaster, California, in the Mojave Desert. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Vermont Arts Council, and New York University, where she received her M.F.A. She lives in New Mexico and teaches Creative Writing at the College of Santa Fe....
|Title||:||In the Surgical Theatre|
|Number of Pages||:||96 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
In the Surgical Theatre Reviews
Although I find it a great luxury, and feel so fortunate, to be inundated with poetry, one unfortunate side effect is that it’s now rarer for a poem to give me chills, to cause that visceral reaction that thrills me into reading it again right away. When this does happen, I am ecstatic and reinvigorated by poetry’s power. Hence, I am happy to report that this phenomenon happened several times in Dana Levin’s extraordinary first collection. In poem after poem, she meditates on the grotesque and finds sublimity in the intricate connection between the minutiae of the body, its miraculous functions and malfunctions, and the leaps of faith it takes to be present in this humanly flawed world. Yet, the beauty of these poems is that they are grounded in very recognizable human situations that Levin masterfully observes and harvests for their metaphoric qualities. As the title suggests, this book takes place in a “theatre” of sorts: a place where human drama is displayed for all to access its lessons and postulations on how to be better at being human.
I re-read this on the train this week and upgraded my review, because I'd forgotten/never noticed how effing amazing the first section is. The second and third sections don't quite (quite) blow the top of my head off in the same way, but hey. I can see their projects more clearly now--I think I was just too young/dumb/envious when I read this before. It's stupendously good--as Gluck says in her introduction, its consistency and coherency and just plain balls-out strength of voice, for a first book, are astounding. That it's paced throughout the whole ms without losing its sense of urgency is even more of an accomplishment. Levin seams vast swaths of poem together with devices such as the repeated insistent questioning (variations on Plath's "Will you marry it, marry it, marry it?")--and maybe I never got before this reading that the "you" of almost all the poems indicates a direct challenging address to the self? What can I say, I'm slow to catch on. Fantastic stuff which I will urge onto students for as long as they let me.
from In the Surgical Theatre by Dana Levin:Body of MagnesiaWhen the door between the worlds openedI ceased to be a ghost, I becamethe blood in my fingers in the veins of my handsI felt the world under my feetwith its nails and its splinters I feltthe salt the red water in the loam of my chest I wasno longer a ghost, the vapors were gone,I was solid, I hurt, my wings could be broken,it was joy, I was living in it,I bled, I cried.
Wow. Wow! It took me several months to 'finish' this collection because I was compelled to re-read over and again many (most) of the poems. That doesn't happen too much for me anymore; read Steven Rydman's awesome review and you'll get a good idea of what I mean, I think he says it perfectly. These poems are certainly grotesque, yet they are also terribly beautiful, savage in their intensity--full of bodies, metal and bone, decay, light. Levin does not avert her eye to the gross horrors of the world but nor does she dampen feeling or the quickness of spirit that peeks out from the wreckage. I also thought these poems were masterful in their use of line, breath, and form. Unbelievable. This is a collection I'll return to several times over the years.
This book of poems is a soul making process. I read it once and then again, especially the first section. Brilliant, exquisite pain of life captured on pages.
Gritty, exciting, not for the faint hearted.