Denise Levertov. Collection, 1955.
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Biographical / Historical Note

Denise Levertov was an English-born poet who came to the United States in 1948 and became a naturalized citizen in 1956. She was the daughter of a Welsh mother and a Russian-Jewish father, both of whom claim mystics in their family lines. Levertov’s poetry reflects her cultural and spiritual roots as well as her involvement in contemporary political movements. After her move to the United States, Levertov was introduced to the work of William Carlos Williams and became associated with the Black Mountain group of poets, particularly Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, and Robert Duncan. Levertov acknowledged these influences, but disclaimed any membership in a poetic school. Denise Levertov was politically active from the 1960’s onwards, initially in the Vietnam War protests and later in the anti-nuclear movement. She was also active as a feminist. Levertov maintained the need for artists to be politically active and much of her poetry of the 1960’s and 1970’s reflected her political commitments. In addition to writing poetry Levertov wrote much about the creative process and the aesthetics of contemporary poetry. She taught at numerous universities, primarily as a visiting artist. Levertov produced more than 20 books of poetry, criticism, and translations, and edited several important anthologies.