FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2019
Richmond, VA—Diode Editions is proud to announce the publication of Prismatics: Larry Levis & Contemporary American Poetry. Forthcoming March 2020, Prismatics collects the full-length versions of interviews with fourteen notable American poets, including two U.S. Poet Laureates, conducted in the making of the documentary film A Late Style of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet. The life and work of Levis provides an entryway into lively conversations that expand as each poet provides a unique viewpoint on making a life in poetry during a striking and transformative time.
Prismatics: Larry Levis & Contemporary American Poetry is a collection of the full-length transcriptions of the extended interviews Gregory Donovan and Michele Poulos conducted with a group of America’s most notable poets—including two U.S. Poet Laureates—in making the documentary film A Late Style of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet. These discussions cover not only their relationships with Levis and his poetry, but also more wide-ranging commentaries on a broad spectrum of American literary life.
Prismatics reflects the multiple angles of perception provided by its fourteen participating poets, including David St. John (who also contributed the foreword), Philip Levine, Charles Wright, Norman Dubie, Gerald Stern, Carolyn Forché, Stanley Plumly, Colleen McElroy, David Wojahn, Carol Muske-Dukes, Kathleen Graber, Peter Everwine, Charles Hanzlicek, and Gail Wronsky. The book’s title points out that Levis’s personal and professional life as a writer provides a prism which leads these discussions to range broadly into a wider portrait of a highly influential era of poets and poetics, personified not only in Levis, but in each of the poets interviewed. In these lively, spontaneous conversations, Prismatics provides an informed and intimate portrait of the risks and triumphs of a life in poetry, a discussion of distinct intellectual, practical, and historical value that’s also emotionally involving—and quite entertaining.
Gregory Donovan, the film’s producer, is the author of the poetry collections Torn From the Sun (Red Hen Press, 2015), long-listed for the Julie Suk Award, and Calling His Children Home (University of Missouri Press), which won the Devins Award for Poetry. His poetry, essays, and translations have been published in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Copper Nickel, TriQuarterly, and many other journals. His work has also appeared in several anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (University of Virginia Press). Among other awards for his writing, he is the recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Award from New England Writers as well as grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and fellowships from the Ucross Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Donovan has served as a visiting writer and guest faculty for a number of summer conferences and low-residency programs, such as the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Chautauqua Institution Writers’ Center, and the University of Tampa MFA program. Donovan is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he helped establish its MFA program, and he is a founding editor of Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts.
Poet, screenwriter, and filmmaker Michele Poulos directed and produced A Late Style of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet. Poulos is the author of the poetry collection Black Laurel (Iris Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Disturbance in the Air, which won the 2012 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. Her screenplay, Mule Bone Blues, about Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, won the 2010 Virginia Screenwriting Competition and was a second round finalist in the 2017 Sundance Screenwriters Lab competition. Her poetry and fiction have been published in The Southern Review, Copper Nickel, Smartish Pace, Crab Orchard Review, and many other journals. She has won fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the David Baldacci Foundation. Poulos has taught creative writing courses at Virginia Commonwealth University and Arizona State University, and has been invited for readings and as a guest lecturer at the College of William & Mary, University of Utah, Drew University, Columbus College of Art & Design, and the O Miami Poetry Festival, among other universities and writing conferences. She is currently at work on a feature-length documentary about women’s participation in Mardi Gras.
Further reading from The Normal School:
Ronald Dzerigian: In an interview for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, you mentioned that the idea for your film came from a voice in a dream that stated that you would “make a film about Larry Levis.” So much of Levis’ work takes the reader into the dream-state. Tell us more about your dream.
Michele Poulos: The idea for the film came to me in a dream I had in 2009. I was already a fan of the poetry of Larry Levis when I moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2005 to study in the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Levis had been a faculty member there until his untimely death in 1996. You couldn’t walk down the street without bumping into someone who had known Levis—or even seeing graffiti about him—and the stories people told were fascinating, as savory and tangled as his poems. Hearing about the man behind the poems, I began to wonder why there was no comprehensive biography about this artist of such tremendous talent and reach. It was at that point I had the dream—and in it, a disembodied male voice told me I was to create a film that would have the excitement and artistic quality of the work of the man himself.