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1. New Selected Poems
2. The Simple Truth: Poems
3. What Work Is
4. News of the World: Poems
5. Ashes: Poems new & old
6. Breath: Poems
7. So Ask: Essays, Conversations,
8. They Feed They Lion and The Names
9. The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography
10. The Names of the Lost: Poems
11. The Mercy: Poems
12. Awake (Lynx House Book)
13. One for the Rose: Poems
14. Red Dust: Poems
15. 7 years from somewhere: Poems
16. The Lord and the General Din of
17. Thistles ([Turret booklet. Second
18. 1933; poems
19. Essential Keats: Selected by Philip
20. They Feed They Lion: Poems

1. New Selected Poems
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 304 Pages (1992-04-21)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$11.14
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679740562
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A collection from the most honest poet around
Philip Levine is an amazing poet and this really is an amazing collection. I recently saw him do a reading and was so floored by the brutal honesty and anger of his poems. I am an 8th English teacher and have given my honors classes some ofhis poems, which they loved. Philip Levine works on so many levels and can be enjoyed by anyone. Must reads from this collection include: "You Can Have It," "They Feed They Lion," and "Animals are Passing from Our Lives."

5-0 out of 5 stars Levine A True Master
In my opinion, Philip Levine is perhaps the most honest poet writing in America today. As a master's candidate in an English department, I've endured much of the postmodern fluff that dominates modern poetry. In Levine's work, you won't find the typical introspective ramblings of the self-obsessed modern poet. Levine writes clearly and distinctly, with images that carry ideas. Levine doesn't resort to petty academic parlor tricks to describe the disappearence of self--check out "Silent in America" for a portrait of a man with a voice so powerful that he cannot even use it.

In *New and Selected Poems*, readers will find a real master craftsman at work.Along with artfully buried rhymes and off rhymes, Levine also experiments quite successfully with both meter and syllabic verse. The amazine thing, however, is that unless you really pay attention to the work, you miss these things. Levine hypnotizes with his ideas and phrasing and clear, sharp images.

Here are the voices of the lost; here are the voices of the damned. Levine rejects the postmodern destruction of self and has become a voice of the American poor in the Whitman tradition. As an epigraph in *New and Selected Poems* reads, "Vivas for those who have failed."

Levine has had a great influence on me and my work. Anyone writing poetry should check out Levine's work. I'd recommend _What Work Is_ also. In my opinion, it's his best book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic American poetry collection
Philip Levine¹s Collected Works is an amazing biography of a life. Spanning a so-far-incomplete life, we can follow Levine¹s progress of maturation. While the beginning poems are strong, it is the middle and end pieces that were the most startling, poems about the working class and later his son. His ability to mix narration and the more typical elements of poetry is extraordinary. Compare the first and last sentences of ³One For The Rose²: ³Three weeks ago I went back / to the same street corner where / 27 years before I took a bus for Akron, / Ohio, but now there was only a blank space / with a few concrete building blocks / scattered among the beer cans², ³Instead I was born / in the wrong year and in the wrong place, / and I made my way so slowly and badly / that I remember every single turn, / and each one smells like an overblown rose, / yellow, American, beautiful, and true.² Levine writes American poetry in the American diction better than anyone since Whitman or Sandburg. His language is conservative and seems simple at first, but when the poem blossoms we are all the more surprised and excited because of it. This book is a gem to read and contains a story, making it as hard to put down as your favorite novel. ... Read more

2. The Simple Truth: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 80 Pages (1996-09-03)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679765840
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for 1995, Philip Levine goes from strength to strength, having received the National Book Ward for Poetry for his earlier book What Work Is. This is the first paperback edition of this text, about which Harold Bloom said, "The controlled pathos of every poem in the volume is immense, and gives me a new sense of Levine."Amazon.com Review
Philip Levine's 15th collection of poetry muses on thepast--everything from friends lost, decisions made and potatoes eaten isremembered and considered. With humor and strikingly modest wisdom, Levinemingles realism and romanticism, producing fascinating, emotionallypersuasive shifts and tonal modulations that epitomize a lived truth. As helaments his losses, he is also stoic, bending to acknowledge the misfortunesof others in total sympathy. The Simple Truth was the winner of thePulitzer Prize for poetry in 1995. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mr. Levine's Simple Truth
Philip Levine writes in the title poem of this collection:

"Some things/you know all your life.They are so simple andtrue/they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,/theymust be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,/the glass ofwater, the absence of light gathering/in the shadows of picture frames, they must be/naked and alone, they must stand for themselves."

These lines capture many of the themes of this Pulitzer-prize winning book.The poems in this collection are deceptively simple, "naked and alone".They generally involve an incident or person, recollected by the poet from his past. The incident is recounted in bare unrhymed lines, without hyperbole or judgment. We are encouraged to see the incident, as we see the still life reproduced on the cover of the volume and to let it "stand for itself". The poems are elegaic in tone and the effect of the memory is generally one of deep sadness.

Many of the poems have a deliberately pictorial quality, as reflected in their titles, that remind one of a photo or of apainting in a museum. In many cases, the reader is tempted to conceive in the mind's eye a painting to accompany the poem. This is true, particularly, as the book progresses into its final section with its descriptions of the poet's mother ("My Mother with Purse, the Summer they Murdered the Spanish Poet"), father ("My Father with Cigarette Twelve Years before the Nazis could Break his Heart"), and others ("Edward Lieberman, Entrepreneur, four years after the Burnings on Okinawa")One of the poems of the collection is title simply "Photography".Ironically, this poem is less pictorial than many others.It relates a sad incident from the poet's childhood involving his Aunt, and others, and focuses on the ravages of time and memory.

The poems also focus on the role imagination plays in constituting our reality.The first poem of the collection "On the Meeting of Garcia Lorca and Hart Crane" relates a meeting between these two romantic 20th Century poets and alludes to Crane's apparent suicide in jumping from a ship bound from Vera Cruz to New York. Crane's tragic but romantic death is juxtaposed with the vision coming "to an ordinary man staring/ at a filthy river" as he contemplates not only Crane and Lorca but his son falling to his death "from/the roof of a building he works on."With a voice of irony, the poet asks us to"bless the imagination.It gives/ us the myths we live by.Let's bless/ the visionary power of the human-- the only animal that's got it--"

These poems have a multi-layered simplicity realized through an understated voice of sadness and illuminated by imagination.

5-0 out of 5 stars He writes plain, about things plain, and is plain fabulous!
Philip Levine once vowed to be the voice of the poor, the simple, those without voice--a vow he has not broken in his sixty-plus years of writing poetry.In 1995, Levine was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for hiscollection of poems, "the Simple Truth". That prize would meanless to him than the knowledge that thousands of people have foundenjoyment and comfort from reading his poems--that from his work, they cameto better understand our common vulnerabilty to the state of being human.Levine's poems are an echo of the emotions trapped in the reader's heart;they are a friendly voice giving substance to what has been lived, but notspoken. Levine's title poem "The Simple Truth" invites the readerto recognize and celebrate the stark beauty of simple things. Each poem inthis collection builds on the other to introduce the reader to the poet,who in turn introduces readers to perfect poetic expression, so personalthat they will stop and say "Yes!! That IS how it is!"Anyonewho cannot relate to or reconginze themself in at least half of the poemsin this fine book, have not read it.That's "the simple truth."

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
Levine's poetry often moves me.In my opinion, this is his best book.His poems strike me as being very honest; they make me accept the complicated mess of joys and disappointments that it means to be human. The title poem, "The Simple Truth," explains exactly what I mean(and in a better way than I'm doing here).Please read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The title says it all
Poetry, to many, brings to mind names like Shakespeare, Eliot, Milton, Yeats--figures of artistic genius who crafted intricate texts laden with complex (sometimes private) imagery and embodied in a nearly-inaccessible form.To them, the interpretation of poetry is best left to career academics who spend lifetimes working out such complex systems of words and images. Philip Levine to the rescue!That is, for those resigned to avoid poetry he rescues the immense pleasure it is capable of giving regardless of literary background.His prosaic verse-columns give themselves up to the reader with no fight, laying bare and accessible the truth Levine hopes to convey.Setting is given usually within the first line, as Levine constructs an everyday scene animated with very human characters who live life day by day--trying to make it from this one to the next.From this the poem (often a narrative) builds piece by piece using bits of conversation, natural observations, personal thoughts, and other snippets of life through whatever drama is present to end as simply as it started--sometimes in a whisper, sometimes with a raised voice, but always with simplicity. Without complex formal elements, Levine's poems are forced to rely on their simplicity, their commonality for what is not an ornate beauty but a simple one.Such verse shows its Americanness with every word, with every image as it articulates simply the truth it lays open--there for the taking.In The Simple Truth is an artist at the zenith of his poetic genius--an artist who is, at the same time, true to his self and to his roots as an American.This is what poetry should be and is meant to be. ... Read more

3. What Work Is
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 96 Pages (1992-04-21)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679740589
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A collection of poems culled from the poet's twelve earlier books includes such pieces as ""Fear and Fame,"" ""Coming Close,"" ""Every Blessed Day,"" and the title poem. Reprint.Amazon.com Review
If there is such a thing as a working man's poet, then Philip Levine is it.Born into a blue-collar family in Detroit, Levine grew up amidst the steelmills and auto factories of Motor City. Laboring in the plants radicalizedboth Levine's politics and his art; in early works such as On theEdge and Not This Pig, he explored the gritty despair of urbanworking-class life, a reality that has continued to run through his laterpoetry as well. In his 1991 National Book Award-winning What WorkIs, Levine revisits the scenes of his youth--only now the factories areshut down, the towns that depended on them devastated. In the title poem,Levine conveys a multitude of meaning in the single image of men standingin line waiting for work:

the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants.
Factory workers aren't the only subjects here, however; in "Among Children"(an American response to Yeats's "Among School Children") Levinecontemplates "the children of Flint, their fathers / work at the spark plugfactory or truck / bottled water in 5 gallon sea-blue jugs / to the widowsof the suburbs." For these children, he contends, the Book of Jobwould be the most appropriate reading.

What work is, Levine tells us, is the accretion of a lifetime ofexperiences, compromises, and disappointments. It is drinking gin for thefirst time at 14, a premature leap into manhood; it is that first jobwith its double-edged promise of a "new life of working and earning," andlater the unrealized dreams of escaping that life. Levine's poems move backand forth in time, touch on issues of race, religion, education--evengardening--and leave the reader with a moving portrait of working-classlife from the 1940s to the present day. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful reflections on the most defining experiences of our lives
Philip Levine's "What Work Is" represents one of the most powerful reflections on labor in modern American history, comparable to some of the great Walt Whitman's own compositions on the lives of those defined by the sweat of their brow and the strain in their backs.

Levine's words are at once intensely emotional while also tightly crafted with the elegant precision of a jeweler. Each piece dignifies its subject with a timeless quality that manages to avoid the sentimentality of similar attempts to ennoble the working poor.

One of the greatest accomplishment of the book is Levine's ability to structure complex meditations with a language that suits his subjects; each piece challenges its reader to dig into the text with the same shoulder-to-the-wheel dedication of those described in each poem.

"What Works Is" is a book best suited to those who desire a permanent addition to their library worthy of reconsidering every few years, for it is a piece that rewards those who accept its challenge to pore over each poem with the tenacity of a farmer in a field or a lumberjack in the forest. The deepest beauty of Levine's poetry is revealed in the third and fourth reading, after the reader himself has unwrapped the words in the joyful labor of discovering what work is.

5-0 out of 5 stars American Toughness
It is sad that we in the United States do not appreciate the strength and the variety of the poetry that our country has produced. A major instance of a contemporary poet whose writing deserves attention from a wider readership is Philip Levine.His book, "What Work Is" won the National Book Award for poetry in 1991.He has produced an impressive quantity of poetry which, in its very restraint and poignancy, can help bring meaning to people.

This is a short collection, consisting of four untitled sections.Section III consists of a single extended poem, "Burning" which is broadly autobiographical in character.The remaining three sections consist of a number of short poems with essentially two themes:the lives of the working poor prior to WWII and Levine's experiences as a boy growing up in Detroit.The poems with these themes overlap and are interspersed throughout the book with the earlier sections emphasizing vignettes of individuals doing the ordinary, desultory jobs that are the lot of most of us (such as "Coming Close", "Fire", "Every Blessed Day" and "What Work Is") while the latter section emphasizes Levine's Detroit experiences, the toughness of being a kid, his relationship with his brother, his love of boxing, and his exposure to Anti-Semitism. ("Coming of Age in Michigan", "The Right Cross", "The Sweetness of Bobby Hefka" "On the River".)

The poems are lucidly written with understatement and a lack of sentimentality which underscores the emotions and the passions they contain.It might be useful to compare these poems to the work of three other writers.

First, the poems reminded me of Walt Whitman, in their compassion for an attempt to understand the American worker.They lack Whitman's bravura and optimism, however, and content themselves with painting harshness and with emphasizing the tenacity people need to get by.

A writer with somewhat similar themes to Levine is the under-appreciated Victorian novelist, George Gissing in his books of lower class life in Victorian London such as The Nether World.Levine has a similar sort of attraction to the life of the poor, the unsuccessful and the down and out.He has at once a sympathy for his characters and a distance from them that Gissing seems to lack, for all his portrayals and descriptions.

A third writer is the late poet-nnovelist Charles Bukowski, a favorite of "underground" readers.Bukowski writes of ne'r do wells, prostitutes, and drunkards, -- as well as doing a lot of writing about himself.Levine has some of the same attraction to the scorned of society, but his people are the working poor, and their stories are told with restraint and dignity, unlike those of Bukowski, and also unlike the work of Bukowski, with literary skill and grace.

This is a book of poetry that has both the sadness and the grittiness of life and the toughness to understand and surmount it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Levine's life work at last just is
A devotion of Levine's life's work, the world of work, at last becomes one of his book's true focus and shows Levine, one of our greatest living poets, at his best.The controlled lyricism of his narratives hone in with precision, as when he pulls in on a woman's forearm at work, a minute detail in a vast world of labor to show us the universality of a struggle Levine himself has endured.While not every poem lives in the factories and workplaces, the fundamental aspect of work in our lives manifests itself in each piece.The short lines and continual enjambment gives his stanzas both the feel and appearence of quality reportage and yet are infused with an empathy and passion for his subjects that both moves and educates.This is the democratization of poetry that Wordsworth aspired to and Whitman acheived.Levine carries on in that tradtion and concretizes, with this book, his place among those American poets to be read in the next century. ... Read more

4. News of the World: Poems
by Philip Levine
Hardcover: 80 Pages (2009-10-06)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307272230
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A superb new collection from “a great American poet . . . still at work on his almost-song of himself” (The New York Times Book Review).

In both lively prose poems and more formal verse, Philip Levine brings us news from everywhere: from Detroit, where exhausted workers try to find a decent breakfast after the late shift, and Henry Ford, “supremely bored” in his mansion, clocks in at one of his plants . . . from Spain, where a woman sings a song that rises at dawn, like the dust of ages, through an open window . . . from Andorra, where an old Communist can now supply you with anything you want—a French radio, a Cadillac, or, if you have a week, an American film star.

The world of his poetry is one of questionable magic:a typist lives for her only son who will die in a war to come; three boys fish in a river while a fine industrial residue falls on their shoulders. This is a haunted world in which exotic animals travel first class, an immigrant worker in Detroit yearns for the silence of his Siberian exile, and the Western mountains “maintain that huge silence we think of as divine.”

A rich, deeply felt collection from one of our master poets. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Philip Levine isn't published over here in the UK.If it weren't for a spell in Boston fifteen years ago I would never have come across him, and if it weren't for Amazon I wouldn't now be able to keep up with his new books as they come out.If this volume ever does appear in the UK it will probably have to be with a different title, otherwise it will share the name of one of the UK's least poetic tabloids.But I hope that won't put off UK readers who stumble across it in the meanwhile.Levine is a wonderful writer, and this is his best book since The Simple Truth.Levine writes better elegies than anyone else in English.Unlike too many modern poets, Levine writes poems that are as clear as running water, and just as refreshing.He writes with grace and elegance about ordinary people in ordinary as well as extraordinary situations.More than with his previous books,the poems in this volume echo and reflect each other and create an aggregate that is greater than the sum of the books parts. There isn't a weak poem in this book, and if you are a dipper then you can dip anywhere here - but read through from beginning to end the book provides an extraordinary cumulative experience - moving, honest, insightful, reflective, humane.Lastly, the book (mine is the first printing) is exceptionally well produced on lovely, creamy, textured paper.It makes such a difference.

4-0 out of 5 stars News of the World: Poems
In this aptly titled volume, Philip Levine traverses the globe. Places as diverse as Detroit, Dearborn, Barcelona, and Copenhagen provide the setting for Levine's work. The news from these sources, however, bears a common theme to this reader. A sense of gritty desolation pervades these poems, which are often set in the past. For example, in "New Year's Eve, in Hospital," the narrator and his roommate lie failing, as the priest watches them "slip...gracelessly from our lives/to abandon him to face eternity/as it came on and on and on." In "Before the War," Levine presents a typist and the son she loves years before "he'll stand and face his death/ flaming toward him on a bridge-/head at Remagen," while his mother goes on typing. A woman whose husband faces death on the lines berates and then embraces a young man buying bread in a food line for his wounded brother in "During the War." The experience leaves the young man walking the streets, seeking "something familiar, a face or a voice or less,/ but not these shards of ash that fell from heaven." Like the black-and-white photograph which adorns the front cover,//News of the World: Poems// reveals to the reader a gray world filled with haunting images.

Reviewed by Annie Peters ... Read more

5. Ashes: Poems new & old
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 66 Pages (1979)
-- used & new: US$6.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 068910975X
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6. Breath: Poems
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 96 Pages (2006-01-17)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375710787
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Always a poet of memory and invention, Philip Levine looks back at his own life as well as the adventures of his ancestors, his relatives, and his friends, and at their rites of passage into an America of victories and betrayals. He transports us back to the street where he was born “early in the final industrial century” to help us envision an America he’s known from the 1930s to the present. His subjects include his brothers, a great-uncle who gave up on America and returned to czarist Russia, a father who survived unspeakable losses, the artists and musicians who inspired him, and fellow workers at the factory who shared the best and worst of his coming of age.

Throughout the collection Levine rejoices in song–Dinah Washington wailing from a jukebox in midtown Manhattan; Della Daubien hymning on the crosstown streetcar; Max Roach and Clifford Brown at a forgotten Detroit jazz palace; the prayers offered to God by an immigrant uncle dreaming of the Judean hills; the hoarse notes of a factory worker who, completing another late shift, serenades the sleeping streets.

Like all of Levine’s poems, these are a testament to the durability of love, the strength of the human spirit, the persistence of life in the presence of the coming dark. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thanks
Two year ago this was a present for my birthday.
This summer in my reading I re-read the slim volume. It takes me many readings of poetry sometimes to even like it, or connect to it, or re-welcome it back into thought.
In a way this book functioned this way. For one thing if I tell you when you are distracted a story say about a person I loved deeply, say Freda perhaps you might listen. Maybe. She was older, neighbor, shaped my life but I have to have an ability to build her before your eyes. And I have to discern things like her azaleas, her regalness, to catchher and catch you. Then I have to hope you are listening. Simple I suppose. I think if I repeat to you stories of her, or repeat that story eventually if we are talking, if we care, if I can hold your attentions then you come to a place where a little that honor I have of her maybe takes on a little place for you. Or it might. Or it might trigger a similar memory of your Freda. We have the halls of memory open to pass within.

So this book walks me there. Many times over I've read this noticing I did my hearing within a different poem. Today what caught me wasn't what I noticed yesterday. Sometimes I was impatient or unable to follow, other times held by this great phrase or image. Or person poured out. But it is true that I do see the pieces as speaking back over a life, like we might in intimate conversation wish to be heard, talking to figures ordinary, extrodinary. I think it's a book with a heartbeat.

There are poems I really like here.

My daughter's ill with Mono, I'm returning to teaching, I feel the sting of certain things sometimes not immune to points even on a silly site like this that raise and plummet thousands over nothing I can figure, not immune to friends that friend and those whose silence grows, aware of critical comment within critical comment within failings. But given that diving board I still leap off vainly into offering up words and thoughts, suggestions and creative attempts to catch and frame and draw attention to books or things I like. Rather funny if you do so in the dark or to a chorus of distrust. Still...I like Breath. I think if you struggle with older poets, self reflection, with thinking another's life and experience have worth, if you don't like backwards glancing, memory, memorials, the shifts of memory this might not be for you, no.

I liked this poem.
Home For The Holidays

Does anyone give a sh/t? Not
I said the little brown mouse
And so to bed, said Mother,
but no one was listening.
Praise the Lord, said the radio,
the radio said Praise the Lord
again, and the television
turned its back on the room.

Turnipsfor wisdom, eggplant
for beauty, parsnips for ease,
cabbage for size, a raw egg
for the hair, a slice ofham
to seize the hips, for the nose
foxglove and salt, for grace
ice-cold water poured from
way high up to way down low.

Everyone sits at the big table
in the dark. The empty plates
moon, the silverware stars,
the napkins scrub their hands.
I'm home, says the front door.
The windows are deep in thought,
the roof has taken off its hat.
Nothing to do, chants the toilet.
from page 34

I personally like the ice-water scene.
It was the beginning of an interesting conversation, this book, one we are still having.

5-0 out of 5 stars Breath and the West Wind
This is a wonderful book for readers of Philip Levine, who will find him here grappling with twilight themes and his own relationship to the legacy of romantic poetry, alongside more poems about working-class Americans which he is famous for."Call It Music" and "Our Reds" are Levine at his best, and "Call It Music" is a good entry point also for those new to his work.Nevertheless, if you have not read Levine before, start with his book: "What Work Is" or "A Walk With Tom Jefferson," then maybe proceed to sip and appreciate "Breath" even more.

3-0 out of 5 stars Auto Pilot
I have admired Mr. Levine's work for years, have been to numerous readings. Perhaps only Wright and Dickey match his ability to turn the lyrical moment from the straight-ahead narrative. But I must be honest and write that he has, especially since "The Simple Truth," been turning the same styllistic moves and strategies over and over, to the point that his poetry has become a character sketch of the poet rather than the poet's illumination of his world. How many poems, for instance, must begin or be moved by adverb phrases? How many poems about the same subject matter? (Sharon Olds fell victim to the repetative theme about 10 years ago)

5-0 out of 5 stars Find Your Soul
Philip Levine does not have the recognition he deserves as the foremost poet in America writing in English.True, he has plenty of fine critics who praise him as they should, but his work somehow should be on everyone's lips more than it is.Breath has him still doing it like no one else.He elevates and makes elegiac the life of the working person - the life of maybe not everyone, but you and I.

I need to tell you about my relationship with Levine's poems.When I first read Levine's "Burned" (later to appear in What Work Is), it gave me a nightmare about my father that both terrified me and made me love my Father like I never had before.In fact, I made it back to Baltimore in time to plant a kiss on his dieing forehead, and I often think about that poem when I think about that moment.
It is true that I arranged Bukowski's second public reading ever and had it video-taped (as reported in the Chicago newspaper review of the video recording, Bukowski at Bellevue).Appearing in Hank's short story made his work play a part in my life, but nothing like Levine's work.His new book has poems that have the same kinds of power.They are about naming when naming is, in the words of the poems, "not enough".Philip Levine's words will always be with us.You do not have to go as far as I do and snap up a new book by him without even looking inside.However, you owe it to you or your soul to read Breath.

Carl Waluconis
... Read more

7. So Ask: Essays, Conversations, and Interviews (Poets on Poetry)
by Philip Levine
 Hardcover: 144 Pages (2002-09-16)
list price: US$65.00 -- used & new: US$42.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0472094203
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Product Description
An engaging and intimate collection by an American original
... Read more

8. They Feed They Lion and The Names of the Lost: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 135 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$188.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375706291
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A major reissue in one volume of two early books by one of our finest living poets. In an essay on his career, Edward Hirsch describes They Feed They Lion as his "most eloquent book of industrial Detroit . . . The magisterial title poem--with its fierce diction and driving rhythms--is Levine's hymn to communal rage, to acting in unison." Of The Names of the Lost: "In these poems Levine explicitly links the people of his childhood whom 'no one remembers' with his doomed heroes from the Spanish Civil War." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars And They Grow
My friend always made fun of this book's title and I would say "no man no" and he would say "but what the heck is 'They Feed They Lion' , with the black vernacular, the guy's Jewish!" but then I made him read the poem and he liked it.If you like post-cold war experimental poetry, blacks and jews, heavy industry and Detroit, then man this book is for you. ... Read more

9. The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography (Poets on Poetry)
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 294 Pages (2001-12-10)
list price: US$20.95 -- used & new: US$20.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0472086251
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Editorial Review

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The Bread of Time is an amalgam of celebration and quest. In this memoir, Philip Levine celebrates the poets who were his teachers--particularly John Berryman and Yvor Winters, writers whose lives and work, he believes, have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In the process of writing this account of his childhood and young manhood in Detroit and of his middle and later years in California and Spain, Levine came to realize that he was also engaged in a quest, striving to discover "how I am." The resulting work provides a double-edged revelation of the way writers grow. Witty and elegantly rendered in a prose that is as characteristically Levine's as his verse, this is superb--and essential--reading for anyone interested in contemporary poetry and poets.
Philip Levine has received many awards for his books of poems, most recently the National Book Award for What Work Is in 1991 and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The Simple Truth in 1995. Levine recently retired from the University of California, Fresno.
... Read more

10. The Names of the Lost: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 69 Pages (1976-09)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$20.00
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Asin: 068910748X
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11. The Mercy: Poems
by Philip Levine
Paperback: 96 Pages (2000-10-24)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.15
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Asin: 0375701354
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Philip Levine's new collection of poems (his first since The Simple Truth was awarded the Pulitzer Prize) is a book of journeys: the necessary ones that each of us takes from innocence to experience, from youth to age, from confusion to clarity, from sanity to madness and back again, from life to death, and occasionally from defeat to triumph. The book's mood is best captured in the closing lines of the title poem, which takes its name from the ship that brought the poet's mother to America: A nine-year-old girl travels all night by train with one suitcase and an orange. She learns that mercy is something you can eat again and again while the juice spills over your chin, you can wipe it away with the back of your hands and you can never get enough.
Amazon.com Review
Over the last four decades, Philip Levine has earned a reputation asAmerica's consummate blue-collar bard--a kind of postindustrial WaltWhitman, albeit one with a taste for surrealism and bebop. To a degree, ofcourse, this is an accurate picture. Levine has written about theworking life with a hard-nosed clarity and tenderness that few Americanpoets can match: it's no accident that his pivotal 1991 collection wascalled What Work Is.Still, his penchant for lunch-bucket lyricism has tended to overshadow hisother gifts, of which there are many. For starters, Levine is a superbelegiac poet. His imaginative engagement with the past enlivened almostevery line in The SimpleTruth, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. And his 17thcollection, The Mercy, entails a similar search for lost time--evenas it demonstrates the mournful, memorializing power of language itself.

In the first part of The Mercy, Levine mostly re-creates the Detroitfactories, machine shops, and neighborhoods of his youth. Here are the "sixbakeries, four barber shops, a five and dime, / twenty beer gardens, aCatholic church with a shul / next door where we studied theTalmud-Torah." Whether these were the good or bad old days depends,needless to say, on your point of view. But Levine seldom overlooks thepitfalls of what he calls "merely village life, / exactly what our parentsleft in Europe / brought to American with pure fidelity." Elsewhere hecelebrates his predecessors (Federico García Lorca, César Vallejo, CharlieParker) and contemporaries (most notably Sonny Rollins, in "TheUnknowable"). In every case the poet squeezes the maximum music out of hiscompact, unfussy lines. He also has a genius for imparting meaning, andeven grandeur, to the trashiest particulars. Note his take on one piece ofindustrial detritus in "Drum":

On the galvanized tin roof the tunes of sudden rain.
The slow light of Friday morning in Michigan,
the one we waited for, shows seven hills
of scraped earth topped with crab grass,
weeds, a black oil drum empty, glistening
at the exact center of the modern world.
Who but Levine would have nudged this empty (but resonant!) receptacle tostage center? This must be what they mean by poetic reclamation--in everysense of the word. --James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars "Fact is silence is the perfect water"
This book of narrative poetry is divided into four sections.Most notable in this collection is Levine's presupposing his readers.In the first poem, the speaker asks, "Can you imagine the air filled with-smoke?/ It was."The first ten lines of Salt and Oil really sum-up how Levine skillfully envisions his audience.In this piece, three men are introduced, the narrator calls one Salt and the other Oil.Levine withholds naming the third man and writes:"'The third man,' you ask, `who was the third man in the photograph?'There is no/ photograph, no mystery./ Only Salt and Oil..."He uses this device in many other poems, and uses it very effectively.Again, in Cesare, Levine manipulates the reader by painting a portrait of this friend, Cesare and then Levine shocks the reader with, "of course I never knew any Cesare..."And in case the reader skimmed over that, he rephrases it in the next line, "he died before I left Detroit, before/ I had a chance..." And if the reader is still confused/incredulous, Levine says it once more, "I'm really talking/ about someone else I can't name..."Strangely enough, as the reader, I wasn't off-put by this - Levine had such a gentle, trustworthy voice that I was willing to follow.How interesting:his persuasiveness and my willingness!

Levine's an alert man who listens, waits, and writes-of it.These pieces have vivid, concrete language but, unfortunately, with little imagery.In the poem The Sea We Read About, the reader finds the metaphysical, symbolic, and allegorical. I was carried by lines like, "...the sea spread out, limitless and changing/ everything, and that I would get there some day."Oh, that elusive "there," that long-away "some day."In poems like these, Levine speaks to the collective psyche.

Levine has some lovely moments and surprising, poetic diction, like this from Caught a Glimpse:"The moment is so full/ I have to close my eyes..."And from the poem, Night Words, "...snow gathers/ on their shoulders and scalds their ungloved hands."He touches on an intriguing concept here:let's dream today of our literal future as if we're self-soothsayers while we dream.Also in The Dead there's a particularly wonderful image:"he scurried off, the oranges/ tumbling out of the dark sack, one/ after another, a short bright trail/ left on the sidewalk..."Another beautiful moment can be found in the last two stanzas of The Evening, this idea of "...leafing through the great book of days."I won't call Levine a man of great poetics, but I will refer to him as a man with poetics of great meaning.

However, I have two qualms with this book.In many of Levine's poems, he tends to end with the expository; a lot of these stanzas just feel like summations and don't necessarily push the theme (e.g. The Unknowable, Philosophy Lesson, The Mercy).Secondly, Levine has a consistent form he uses throughout:a single stanza, longish line poem which usually runs a full page.This form was fine for most of the pieces.But what about the poems which beg a shorter line and shorter length?For example, He Would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do seems to contradict itself in its context, as compared to its form.Form usually follows function for maximum impact (unless, of course, there's tension in the way form is used in a contrary fashion).Specifically, this poem expands on the uselessness of over-talk; it's a poem about silence but without much silence itself.I would expect a poem on wordiness to be less wordy.One thing that Levine does do right in this poem is introducing this lovely, curious metaphor: "Fact is silence is the perfect water..."

4-0 out of 5 stars What Mercy Is
[These comments appeared in a February 24, 2000 article in the Seattle Weekly that is available in full online at http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0008/books-lightfoot.shtml]

Philip Levine, born in 1928 to a poor family in an immigrant neighborhood of Detroit, is the author of 17 books of poetry and the winner of aNational Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He spent most of his twenties in brutalizing industrial jobs, and after he escaped into a different life as a writer, the world he left behind became his central subject. Levine has devoted hisart to rendering justly the blunt, weary dramas that unfold in blue-collar neighborhoods and factories, in poems thatare works of praise as well as pathos. Like his award-winning"What Work Is," his new collection, "The Mercy," presents recollected characters such as an immigrant peddler, a thick-armed farmer, a butcher, a man so happy to be changing a flat tire with his father that he sings--all palpably alive in the capacious honesty of the poet's vision. May Levine's blunt songs of the single grit-blown moment--that woman digging bulbs into bare ground,this man-handled oildrum under exactly this sky--be heard and remembered through our shiny times.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant Memory
Philip Levine was born in Detroit to immigrant Jewish parents.The adjustment his family made to a new land, together with the poverty of the Depression, has made a deep imprint on his writing.He worked at a succession of blue-collar jobs before becoming a professor in Fresno, California.He has received both the National Book award and the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry.

In the poems of The Mercy, the poet looks back upon incidents in his life or in the lives of those dear to him.The title poem describes his mother's journey to the New World on a ship both aptly and ironically named "The Mercy".The poet looks back at her voyage, including his own research on it, to recapture the shock of the voyage to a then nine year old girl with no English attempting to find her way in a strange land.A related poem earlier in the volume describing an immigrant's reaction to the New World is "Reinventing America." (Perhaps an ironic reference to the reinvention of government theme of the late 1990's)

I think the poems are designed to capture, for the poet and the reader, the details of the small moments of life, remembered and recreated. In "Salt and Oil", one of the fine poems of the collection, Levine describes a process that underlies the theme of memory in the book:

"Three young men in dirty work clothes/ on their way home or to a bar/ in the late morning.This is not/ a photograph, it is a moment/in the daily life of the world,/ a moment that will pass into the unwritten biography/ of your city or my city/ unless it is frozen in the fine print/of your eyes."

So Levine etches these moments for us in his poems.

There are poems describing the loss of innocence (as in "Flowering Midnight" which mourns "the lost white world we thought was ours for good.") and poems describing the dissipation, in loneliness even of the lure of sexuality (as in the poem "The Cafe" which describes a bar scene and concludes "the air thickens with smoke, and no one cares/if the two young girls show their thights or their breasts, some nights/the young men along the bar are too tired even to die.")

Levine is no stranger to the power of music.I found his tribute to Sonny Rollins in "The Unknowable", particularly moving. ("He is merely a man--/after all--a man who stared for years/into the breathy, unknowable voice/of silence and captured the music.")

The poems are in a restrained free verse, in the manner of a chastened and somber Walt Whitman.The poetry also reminds me of the earlier Jewish-American poet, Charles Reznikoff, in its telling vignettes of the lives of ordinary people, its emphasis of a moment, in it use of understatement, and in its reluctance to moralize.

Memory can bring sadness, wisdom, reflection, but it can also result in hope.There is no easy optimism in this collection. This collection is etched sharply with individual recollections of a life. It may help the reader share in the process of looking back with understanding, love,and forbearance.

3-0 out of 5 stars good starting point
This was my first book by Philip Levine and I must say I was impressed.His poetry is strong, descriptive and makes many statements in innovative ways, this is almost fiction.As a newcommer to his style and skills I can only recommend this book as a good introduction to Levine.

5-0 out of 5 stars Levine at his Most Pleasurable
Recently I had the pleasure to attend a Philip Levine reading in New York City. Like most of our lauded poets, he drowned the audience in a forcible modesty, at one point saying that he is only thought of as a worker's poet, but he's "really not." Well, whether that is just another artist's malevolence towards critics of the day or honest sentiment, The Mercy seems to back him up.

Unlike past masterpieces such as "Names of the Lost" or "What Work Is," The Mercy indulges in an extra dollop of jazz poems, such as the eulogy to the great Sonny Rollins, feeding his horn with breath on Manhattan's Williamsburg Bridge, breath that "became the music of the world," as Levine puts it in one of The Mercy's best poems, "The Unknowing." Of course, this collection offers Levine's typically brilliant working poems, such as the first poem, "Smoke." "Why/ was the air filled with smoke?" Levine writes, "Simple. We had work/Work was something that thrived on fire, that without/ fire couldn't catch its breath or hang on for life."

But there is yet a third dimension to Levine that surfaces here, an element of playfulness, of constructing the poems as conversations between speaker and reader, such as on the just-mentioned poem, in which he speaks of smoke in the first stanza and drifts off onto something of a tangent, and as if his ear were not just tuned to the cadence of his own poem but also to the reader's mind, he writes, "Go back to the beginning, you insist." And he does. Other times, it is as if Levine were writing about writing, almost mocking his chosen art, as on poems such as "Clouds Above the Sea," a poem about his parents standing side by side, "I could give her a rope of genuine pearls/as a gift for bearing my father's sons/ and let each pearl glow with a child's fire/ I could turn her toward you now with a smile/ so that we might joy in her constancy."

This sort of teasing propells these poems to the heights of tragicomedy, as most poems are deeply rooted in the heavy world of tragic characters that pervade most of Levine's work. Only this time, any element of mawkishness has evaporated, and we get a curious blend of laughs and sighs leaping from each page. Perhaps this is The mercy's most impressive facet; that now in his early seventies and after forty years worth of books, Philip Levine's poetry continues to evolve. ... Read more

12. Awake (Lynx House Book)
by Dorianne Laux
Paperback: 72 Pages (2007-12)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$46.98
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Asin: 1597660302
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
This book of poetry is absolutely amazing. Ms. Laux writes about the realities that everyone thinks about, but doesn't talk about. Unlike many modern poets, she has something to say. Too many poets nowadays write poemswithout ever saying anything. Not Dorianne Laux.

4-0 out of 5 stars Raw Writings from a Strong, Rare Poet
This book of poetry, as well as others by Dorianne Laux contains powerful images and ideas expressed in compelling images.The themes are true and captivating.Laux's life experiences seep into many of these great poems.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you like Sharon Olds, you'll love Dorianne Laux
If Emily Dickinson were to read Laux's poems, she would know she was in the presence of poetry. These poems resonate with emotional content and sound. If you like Sharon Olds, you'll adore Dorianne Laux. ... Read more

13. One for the Rose: Poems
by Philip, Levine
 Paperback: Pages (1981-12)
list price: US$5.95
Isbn: 0689112238
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14. Red Dust: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: Pages (1971-01-01)

Asin: B000PFLAYA
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15. 7 years from somewhere: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 70 Pages (1979)
-- used & new: US$79.28
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Asin: 0689109741
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Desperately Needs to Be Reprinted and Reissued
For the longest time I have been carrying this thin volume of poems with me, as a solace and comfort item over the course a very interesting career in the Marines and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Below is a second volume I am adding to my briefcase, in French and English side by side.

Philip Levine is a warrior's poet.Here are nine lines from the poem PEACE:

One words go slowly out
and the sun burns
them before they
even speak.It is
as though the earth
were tired of our talk
and wanted peace, an end
to promises, perhaps an
end to us.

See also
The Astonished Universe ... Read more

16. The Lord and the General Din of the World: Poems
by Jane Mead
Paperback: 96 Pages (1996-01-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.62
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Asin: 0964115115
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the 1995 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry Selected by Philip Levine!

"In her extraordinary first book The Lord and the General Din of the World, the truth Mead tells have less to do with the sights, smells, and sounds of a place and far more to do with the taste of loss, grief, and madness in a community that has spun out of control. . . . We, the readers, eavesdrop on a passionate internalized debate that is about no more and no less than the question of whether or not we should live and, should we choose to, how we might go about it."-from the Foreword by Philip Levine ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Utterly fantastic.
Julie Mead, The Lord and the General Din of the World (Sarabande, 1996)

I have some years where every book of poetry I touch turns out to be a hideous, steaming pot of dirt soup that should never have been published, and I have some years where every time I crack the cover on a volume by an author I've never read before, I discover pure gold. 2006 is rapidly turning into one of the latter years; I discovered the brilliance of David Berman last month, and now I happen upon Julie Mead's debut collection, The Lord and the General Din of the World.

I'll warn you flat out-- this is not a happy book. In fact, it's one of the most relentlessly downbeat books I've had the pleasure of happening across since Final Exit, Derek Humphry's masterpiece on ways to off oneself. And it's the kind of poetry that, in general, causes those who are not used to reading poetry to cringe. Allusions and symbols and subtext, oh my! But still, while angst-poetry is as common as salt in the Adriatic, Mead's stuff never comes off as simple angst-poetry; as one wag said many years ago of the first Death in June album (paraphrased, unfortunately, by yours truly, who doesn't have the quote to hand), Mead's work is equipped with a grim humour capable of slaughtering a thousand renegade Bunnymen:

"The blue smoke turns to water
in my lungs. Gale brings out
the pornographic comics she's working on,
in which her history teacher
meets an embarrassing end.
The teacher's kidnapped-- ransom set.
Nobody pays. The ransom is reduced
and reduced again. It would be awful--
ransom demanded and nobody
so much as notices. We laugh."
(--"On the Lawn at the Drug Rehab Center")

Her subject matter doesn't usually differ from the sort of thing one finds on repositories (which shall here remain blessedly nameless as so not to give them even more exposure) of such angst: there's drug rehab (as mentioned above), recovery, and, of course, the reason we went there in the first place; there is death, usually somewhat messy; there is somber contemplation of the landscape, even. But it is Mead's sense of craft that makes it all work so well, and it does all work so well. This is excellent work, and deserves to be widely read. **** ½

5-0 out of 5 stars Unflinchingly honest...exquisitely crafted
Jane Mead's "The Lord and the General Din of the World" introduces us as readers to a poet of such strength and power...unseen since, perhaps, the work of Sylvia Plath.She writes with unflinching honesty, plumbing the depths of the human interior, composing about pain and loss in a manner which many readers might dare not speak or think or dream of.Her quietness and control is all the more unsettling:a hallmark of our greatest poets.Her timing is flawless.In this her first book, she establishes her mastery instantly and beyond anyquestion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Moving
One of the first things you note is that Philip Levine's introductory note seems to be at a loss for words. It's understandable once you start reading. The pieces in this book are what poetry strives to be and usuallyfalls short of. Mead's command of the language does not come across aseffortless, rather it comes across as a true command, sure in its phrasing,confident in its images. It creates a deep and lasting resonance in thereader, calling out more of the truth about ourselves and our relation tothe world than we are usually comfortable with.

This book changed the wayI read poetry in much the same way as reading the Charters translation of"Baltics" did. It established for me a new reference point, a newvision of what is possible. ... Read more

17. Thistles ([Turret booklet. Second series)
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 12 Pages (1970)

Isbn: 085469014X
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18. 1933; poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: 68 Pages (1974)
-- used & new: US$52.76
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Asin: 068910586X
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19. Essential Keats: Selected by Philip Levine (Essential Poets)
by John Keats
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-03-01)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$5.22
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Asin: 006088794X
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From the introduction by Philip Levine:

Walter Jackson Bate, in his biography of Keats, has writers, critics, readers, have approached Keats during the last century, on one quality in his writing they have been completely united.

They have all been won by an economy and power of phrase excelled only by Shakespeare." This poet whose greatest ambition was to he "among the English poets" is not only preeminent among those of the past, but for well over a century he has continued to be the yardstick by which those who have written poetry in our language can measure their success. He remains a wellspring to which all of us might go to refresh our belief in the value of this art.

... Read more

20. They Feed They Lion: Poems
by Philip Levine
 Paperback: Pages (1972-01)
list price: US$4.95
Isbn: 0689104901
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Deep messages, but not always clear at first
I found it necessary to read these poems slowly and in most cases twice. The first pass through made me pause, sometimes I thought for a moment and understood and in other cases I read it again. This poetry can be classified under the "experimental" genre and in most cases it is a description of a dark event or condition. Despite my confusion, I found the messages to be powerful, well worth reading. Among other things, they examine the plight of the common soldier, working class conditions, drug usage, the experiences of daily life and communing with a fish head. ... Read more

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