Start the Year with Poetry- Lynn Levin

I write poems because I love the way poetry allows me to concentrate experience and mix it up with unexpected associations.
Lynn Levin, Poet, Professor, Translator, Purveyor of Words

My note: I love poetry. If you have been reading my blog-turned-website, you will know that I often post poetry as well as my own rhymes. (I consider myself a rhymnast, a gymnast with words. I even coined the word rhymnast.)  For a long time I was frustrated when I did not understand a poem, but after my recent lunch with Lynn Levin, I feel differently.

Many years ago I watched The Waltons on TV. It was a heartwarming family saga based on a large family surviving with the sweat of their brows between WWI & WWII. In one episode, John Boy, the oldest, reads one of his articles to his mother, a saint posing as a woman. After John Boy read his article, he asked his mother what she thought.  She answered,”I don’t know if I understand it, but it sure sounds pretty.”

That’s my new take on poetry. Lynn’s poems aren’t always clear to me, but they are written from her heart and when she “mixes it up,” as she notes in the quote above, sometimes I get mixed up. But now it’s ok. I don’t have to understand a poem to enjoy it. The sound of the words in my ears and the way the words feel in my mouth are enough.

Lynn teaches part-time at Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania. She teaches creative writing and poetry and also does translations, as well as writes fiction. Words are important to her and putting them in poems squeezes her ideas and feelings into something special.

During the month I will post three of Lynn’s poems, one from each of three books. Here is the first one from her first book, published in 2000 by Loonfeather Press, 56 pages (paperback) available from Amazon.com.


I chose the poem with the same title as the book, because it centers on Eve in the garden of Eden.

 


In paradise, was Eve bored?
Was being a helpmeet enough for her?
Adam had a fine career in nomenclature,
but wasn’t Eve the world’s first philosopher,
the one who desired to be wise,
knowing good from evil?
The serpent saw that. He knew what she wanted.
Upon one of her nature walks
she came upon the subtle beast who told her life
could be more than following orders.
You could push the envelope,
strike out on your own,
eat to please yourself,
and eating, learn what strange flavors and what strange thoughts
lay beyond paradise.
Eve argued
but yielded. The serpent assured her
she would not die
if her curiosity were satisfied.
“On the contrary,” he argued, “how could you
live without knowing?”
So Eve waited until the time was right and chose to eat,
and shared the fruit.
But was it bitter or sweet?
All we know is that in a blink the honeymoon was over,
and the rest was history.
You can talk about obedience, but I’d rather not.
It’s no virtue in itself.
A craving for truth’s the greater strength.

It is as strong as gravity, strong as death.
When you reach for it,
Red, ripe, and dangerous
high on the tree, there’s that tendency to deny
you’ll have to pay the price.
But often enough you do pay.
Sometimes you fall
onto the hard earth
and bruised or broken and somewhat wiser
do your best to press on
toward a new and more difficult happiness.

P.S.  Sept. 1, 2014 UPDATE: Lynn now has a website: http://www.lynnlevinpoet.com/ Check it out!

One Response to “Start the Year with Poetry- Lynn Levin”

  1. Mary-Lou Meyers Says:

    It’s interesting that Lynn chose a subject everyone has a working relationship and familiarity with,
    but then she added a new twist, a new wrinkle to the “marital bliss?” Her poetry is light and airy, not designed to ponder at length but just make you aware of temptations and consequences in a different way. Still very applicable in today’s scene.

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