✻ [BOOKS] ✯ Wrecking Crew: Poems By Larry Levis ❅ – Transportjobsite.co.uk

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10 thoughts on “Wrecking Crew: Poems

  1. says:

    I love looking back through poet's careers to begin to understand the shape of their development. Wrecking Crew is Levis's first collection, and you can see already the man who appears in The Darkening Trapeze: Last Poems living in these poems. These are more deeply rooted in a classed experience (a la Phillip Levine, who Levis studied under in college) than the later pieces, but the mystical and surrealist tendencies are also showing through in a number of the poems. What they don't have is the operatic, sprawling, quality that I saw in his latest, posthumous, collection, and some of his other later poems--that seems to be a development of his later career. I particularly like that quality, but I didn't find that the lack of it here took much away from these poems, since they were often deeply rooted. I also found that his humor is similar between this and his later work, although there may have been a tad more amusement present in Wrecking Crew than in either collection I have read previously, like in "Bus Ride" whose first section ends

    Maybe the fat man
    standing quietly over there
    with an ordinary, soft hat on his head
    ate them all.

    I adored the whole collection (another book I need to add to my list of "works of deep critical interest" as well as a serious enjoyment), but I particularly loved "The Poem You Asked For", "The New Bombers", "Magician Poems", "Cool Morning Shower in Early Spring", "Speeding in Utah", "Bus Ride" (probably my very favorite), "For Stones", "Fish", "For the Country", "Earl the Chicken Farmer", and "The Town" (it's not my book, so I'm also cataloging a bunch of the titles). Some choice lines from these poems include "This moon a pig spits out on a hot night." ("The Town"), "though tonight trout / are freezing into bits of stars" ("Fish"), and
    watch as the
    flatcars loaded
    with moon,
    sundials, menstruating
    girls turning in sleep
    snap by you
    under a steady
    ("Speeding in Utah"). As with all of Levis's work, I highly recommend this collection.

  2. says:

    Early Levis is, at times, virtually indistinguishable from Levine. 'Wrecking Crew' was a good book; no one would argue it was a great book (like 'Winter Stars,' 'The Widening Spell...,' or 'Elegy'). The poems hadn't yet learned to ripple out far enough, a signature trait of Levis's enduring poems, but they mark a beginning place that will undoubtedly interest those keen on working through Levis's bibliography.

  3. says:

    I appreciate the subject matter in so many of these poems, and particularly was taken by “Speeding in Utah,” with the lines: “Under us fish/ are turning, too/ on their rack of water/…a moment: that/ is a whiskery/ feel of centuries.” And in “Train,” “We pass by a yard of chickens exploding/ and I try yelling to him/ but when he turns/ he’s all smiles.” These poems are so understated in a sense and rely on one deep image to sustain the whole of the verse. I appreciate the precision, but it also leaves me with a sense of unexpectedness and uncertainty, which I think is perhaps the point in this collection. His use of singular image feels confident and concrete, almost unquestioning in the poem’s assertions about the world and he leaves us with one strong, clarified moment to consider.

  4. says:

    Read again in November of 2019: book seventeen of the 2019 reread project (Yeah, I am catching up that little bit. Maybe I can pull off 7 more books reread in the next seven weeks.).

    I really wish that I had reviewed this book when I first added it to Goodreads. I was surprised by it. Really surprised. It was probably the book of Levis’ that I could remember the least from and as I read it, I think I understand why.

    First of all, I don’t think if I were to rate this book today that I would give it a 5 star rating. I think that I did when I signed up for goodreads because it was easier to just give everything that Larry Levis wrote the same 5 stars because I loved him so very much. Today, this book would probably manage somewhere between 3 and 4 stars from me. I am curious if this was the first Levis book that I read if I would have sought out his others. I am not completely sure that I would have.

    Second of all, these poems are short. Many of them very short. If, like me, you read the other Levis books first (this was out of print and it was back in those days when finding an out of print book was not exactly an easy task), this was (slash is since I didn’t remember this one as much) a big surprise. Levis outside of this book writes longer, denser, thoughtful work. This book is not really that at all.

    Listen, there are flashes of that future, older Larry Levis. Certain turns of phrase, certain moments of surprise and depth. Yet these poems are so different from his later body of work. To be fair, it was a different world in which he wrote these poems. Published in 1972, he was in his early to mid 20s as he wrote these poems, so they are from a much younger man than his later work and they *feel* like the work of a younger man. Not always in a bad way, but definitely in a way that recalls more drive and less direction. There is a surprising and brutal touch of violence in this collection that is absent from his later work – at least in this direct of a manner. These poems were written during US involvement in the Vietnam war, at a time of cultural upheaval and you can see this cultural and physical violence reflected in the work.

    It’s a bit shocking, really. Most of it reads like a very different poet than he later became. And it is but it isn’t. As I said, there are hints here and they are fun to tease out, to see the moments that he would return to later in his life. There is a power in this poetry to be sure – and signs of the depth that he would later examine loneliness in. But it is a shallow (that sounds like a bad word but I do not mean it in that way entirely), simmering, angry version of that poet. It is interesting in and of itself and certain lines shine for sure, but it isn’t to my taste as much as his later work. I do really wish that I had taken notes when I read this book as a younger person myself, to see if I enjoyed it more when I was closer in age to when he wrote it. Considering how few pages are folded over, how few lines marked in comparison to his other books, I think that this one never did hit me quite as hard as his other work.

    Still absolutely worth the read but if you have not had the pleasure of discovering Larry Levis, I would not suggest getting started with this one, personally.

  5. says:

    I definitely appreciated Levis' direct approach to writing. His poems have a way of crafting simple similes and metaphors that, upon further reading, suggest greater complexities. (Not sure I get "Speeding in Utah", though.)

  6. says:

    I sped through this, but neither was my attention grabbed by anything interesting, personal, moving or meaningful. Not a good way to read poetry, I know, but I did enjoy two of his other books, especially Winter Stars, so, nothing against the poet.

  7. says:

    I discovered this poet when I first started writing poetry myself in college. At the time he was my favorite poet but I think my taste in poetry has evolved. He still has some great stuff, but is no longer my favorite.

  8. says:

    The poem said he was going over to your place.

  9. says:

    This needs to be reissued.

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