some thoughts on d.a.levy

by jon beacham


so much of my experience with reading d.a.levy is where he is from. this is pretty much a given to most people. especially to those who were friends to levy or in cleveland during his brief life of writing poetry. but to me it is crucial that he is from cleveland, and i cant really imagine levy in another city. im from cleveland, but didnt know about him until picking up a copy of mike goldens book the buddhist third class junkmail oracle in san franciscos city lights bookshop in 2001. it blew me away reading poems about east cleveland and walking through forest hills park at night. the same things i used to do in high school while attending cleveland hts high school with friends taking long walks at night smoking joints and for some reason being somehow truly fascinated about where we were from. years since that first exposure, i have in periods gone deeper into levys writing and visual work.

recently at a tribute for what would be levy's 65th birthday at the poetry project at st. marks church in nyc, i was appalled to hear people get up to read his work and one after another mispronounce the names of places in cleveland. have no clue of where they were while reading poems that speak so much of a location. a geography. one guy got up to read portions of rjs's intro to ukanhavyrfuckinciti bak only to take a slick critical to rjs for what he thought was putting levy on a pedestal. when he got back to sit down in front of me, i asked him from one row behind if he has ever been to cleveland. he pretended not to hear me.

unlike most people who get involved in art, writing, etc. levy stayed in the place of his birth, moving frequently to different areas, and incorporating it all into his poems. a lot to be said for someone. stay where you are and make it there. i continue to find, as someone who works in among a few mediums, but especially film, that cleveland is always calling me back to film. document what that place is. how it looks and levy is always over my shoulder when i think of that city / i often think that people that dont know cleveland are somewhat in the dark to his work. some could criticize him for that. but i would commend him for that as gary snyder did for staying in his 'place.'

artists as community builders are few and far between but are what we desperately need most. cause it aint going to happen without some numbers. some strength as those who can truly see. that was what i feel levy was about. and what he was let down about. that people cant really step up to the table when it matters, his story isn't new. but his story is original. and for me a brother in what i have set out in. poetprinterlover.


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