In 2012, former NEA Fellow Donald Levering was a prizewinner for both the Hackney Literary Awards and the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition. Previously, he was a Duende Series Reader and featured in the Academy of American Poets online Forum. His ten poetry books include The Number of Names, Sweeping the Skylight, Whose Body, The Kingdom of Ignorance, The Fast of Thoth, Horsetail, Mister Ubiquity, Outcroppings from Navajoland, Carpool, and The Jack of Spring. Forthcoming in the fall of 2012 is Algonquins Planted Salmon. An environmental and human rights activist, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Poet Don Levering reads from his work as part of the ESU creative writing program's Visiting Writers Series.
The voice of these poems is discriminating and sympathetic, the act of naming carefully and lovingly articulated; they include our motives toward beauty and evil...In our age of diminishments, The Number of Names undertakes the difficult task of celebrating, without gratuitousness, an abiding variety and abundance.
—William Wenthe, Pushcart Prize winner and author of Not Till We Are Lost, nominee for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and The National Book Award
Donald Levering’s verse seems like intimate conversation. His commentary is a soul-satisfying exchange about the universe, time, knowledge, and spirits of places.
— Denise Low, author of Natural Theologies and former Kansas Poet Laureate
The brilliant poems of Donald Levering capture and release the fermentation of time, and the light from below.
— Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods, and recipient of the Audubon Medal.
(excerpt from an article in Kansas City Star June 29 2012 by Denise Low)
Distortion of reality is perhaps more disturbing than invented characters such as the Alien. This is the forte of Donald Levering, a writer from Kansas City living in Santa Fe, N.M. “The Number of Names,” his fourth full-length book, reads like an off-kilter dream.
He could be found in a local tavern marveling at the mind’s tricks in “The Bus of the Dead.” The narrator sees an ordinary city bus driving by, but the passengers are the departed. The first zombie is an accountant who mimes his past life of shuffling papers endlessly. The drama intensifies when “I see my father within, / and he’s staring at me.” The poet understands he has the next seat on the bus.
In “Mother’s Donation” Levering uses the literary world to explain a mother’s dementia: “I arrive to find Mother more like Lear.” No doctor is needed for diagnosis as she writes “names of my sisters/ on undersides of china and furniture.” This frozen reality, as memory recedes, is again a disturbing distortion.
“The Dead Have Climbed Into My Marriage Bed” is a cheerier riff on the reality of genetics. The ancestors have: “given my jaw to our daughter.” This salute to ghosts appreciates how “The dead have given my cousin/ perfect pitch.”
Levering is original. He interprets ordinary situations with unexpected twists. Each poem is a mystery with clues and a final revelation.
Kayla Dugan, English and theatre major, reads Don Levering's book of poems.
Levering signs books and talks with students after the reading.