The large scale of his poems, his personal generosity, and his advice to use the language of the workplace all made a deep impression. Poems in the middle section explore resonances in other spheres—including family, Detroit ’67, Gaza—to explore how systems of discrimination, domination, and exclusion are maintained and passed on: the induction into accepting injustice and agreed-upon lies.
Lucille Clifton’s ability to create not just strong and clear individuals in her poems, but a community of people, who were contextualized, was an important model. The title poem examines the complex turns of the apprentice/journeyman relationship, and one apprentice’ choice to compromise on principles rather than jeopardize the opportunity to work with an exceptionally gifted mechanic.
Levertov was also influenced by Charles Olson’s essay “Projective Verse,” published in 1950, where attention is paid to “the possibilities of breath” and the kinetics of a poem (613).
However, she takes poetic writing a step further as she is also interested in the way experience is mediated to or translated into words.
Of course, Denise Levertov, as my first teacher, had a strong influence on my writing: technically, but also the responsibilities and patience required of an engaged poet.
A bit by Denise’ design, but also by chance, I was in a small theater performance at a conference in Minnesota with the poet Tom Mc Grath, just as I was beginning to write poems about working in construction. Mining the experiences of women working in construction, poems ask what’s required to become a team player and succeed in a dangerous space where you are unwelcome.Thus, Levertov composes the inscape of an experience in conjunction with other elements: intellectual, sensory and emotional (629).Levertov further explains that a “partial definition, then, of organic poetry might be that it is a method of apperception, i.e., of recognizing what we perceive, and is based on an intuition of an order, a form beyond forms, in which forms partake, and of which man’s creative works are analogies, resemblances, natural allegories. Without any doubt, this kind of poetry places emphasis on the internal structure of things, which does not rely on any prescribed form; on the contrary, this form is “organic,” constantly developing and never remaining static.How to dress yourselfto work outdoors all day midwinterand keep warm, keep working, fingers moving;or midsummer, with no hint of breasts.[Denise Levertov] has learned how to weave together private experience and public event so that both are available to the reader, to show us the inner and outer lives in conflict and in reconciliation, to integrate reportage and documentary into lyrical form and find a genuine inscape. Lacey points out that Denise Levertov is a poet who is able to combine her own personal experience with historical facts so as to build up a new poetic vision.(nonfiction), and curator of the online exhibition, "On Equal Terms: gender and solidarity," for which she was awarded an Engaging New Audiences special project grant from Mass Humanities.She is a Resident Artist/Scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. I remember being very pleased in 3rd grade when an aptitude test suggested I should become either a Poet or Spy—both had great appeal! I still have my childhood copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses with its beautiful colored illustrations.As for the artist, the achievement of an organic poetic form presupposes a stimuli, an experience which must be “felt by the poet intensely enough to demand of him their equivalence in words: he is brought to speech” (Levertov, “Some Notes” 629).With regard to the poems to be discussed here, “What Were They Like?My ideal place to write is Cedar Cottage at Hedgebrook, a wonderful residency on Whidbey Island in Washington State.As an East Coaster and morning person, I’d be writing at my desk while it was still dark, and working away as the sun began to open the forest through my window.