Donald Levering was born in Kansas City and grew up there and in Oceanside, New York. He has worked as a teacher on the Diné reservation, groundskeeper, and human services administrator. His MFA in creative writing is from Bowling Green Ohio State University. In addition to winning a NEA Fellowship, Levering won the Quest for Peace Prize in rhetoric and was featured in the Academy of American Poets Forum and the Duende Reading Series. More recent honors include the 2014 Literal Latté Award, the 2017 Tor House Foundation Robinson Jeffers Prize, and the 2018 Carve Contest Winner. His 6th full-length poetry book, The Water Leveling with Us, placed second in the 2015 National Federation of Press Women Creative Verse Book Competition and his 7th book, Coltrane’s God, was Runner-Up for the 2016 New England Book Festival Contest in poetry.
Pub Date: 9/10/2019
Poetry. The subjects of Levering’s poems are as intriguingly variegated as the musicality of his assured poetic diction. In poem after poem, he reveals the extraordinary essence of seemingly ordinary phenomena. Even the common chemical element, copper, in Levering’s laserlike gaze, “…unclasps / its rings from our magnets and limbs, / and climbs back inside mountains.”
“These poems are paeans, as much to the beauties and fragilities of the natural world as to the pleasure and pain of the human. Like the protagonist of his brilliant poem, ‘St. Francis’ (of Assisi), Levering is at one with the world where he lives ‘…flush with love of God / and animals.'”—Larry D. Thomas
Poetry. Winner of the Carve Magazine Prose and Poetry Contest for Poetry. Donald Levering’s PREVIOUS LIVES: NEW AND SELECTED EARLY POEMS cherry-picks poems from this widely-published poet’s 40 year career. Arranged to flow thematically rather than chronologically, selections from his first eight books are interspersed with previously uncollected poems in 98 pages. The book showcases Levering’s broad stylistic range. Free-verse partners with pantoum, ghazal, and blank verse. Tight, imagist gems nest beside Whitmanesque declamatory odes. The title is at play where the speaker portrays various lives: a snow-plow driver, a highway surveyor, a man who steals subway trains, a prisoner in a Borges story, a stroke-afflicted astrologer, a Navajo healer, a kachina doll salesman. Humorous paeans to Roethke, Bly, and Freud lend levity to a text that witnesses estrangement and war. Ravens, plants, and fungi are also featured in this former groundskeeper’s retrospective.