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Winter Stars

4.52 of 5 stars 4.52  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Since the appearance of his first book in 1972, Larry Levis has been one of the most original and most highly praised of contemporary American poets. In Winter Stars, a book of love poems and elegies, Levis engages in a process of relentless self-interrogation about his life, about losses and acceptances. What emerges is not merely autobiography, but a biography of the rea...more
Hardcover, 87 pages
Published May 28th 1985 by University of Pittsburgh Press (first published 1985)
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321st out of 1,377 books — 1,530 voters
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Community Reviews

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Taking a deep breath here: _____.

Dear friends, I stand before you today to admit openly that I had not known Larry Levis' work until this morning. YES I claim to be a practicing poet & YES I claim to know some things about the art. But:

Today, this moment, and no doubt for some time to come, I am humbled and devastated by this book, read while sitting and on my microfiber couch over the course of two hours while drinking coffee and not moving for the entire second half of the book, even to...more
One of the best books of poetry I’ve read, one that often led me to put down the book and pick up a pen. The title poem, “Winter Stars,” is especially mesmerizing. I also love “The Cry,” in which,

Then, everything slept.
The sky & the fields slept all the way to the Pacific,
And the houses slept.
The orchards blackened in their sleep,
And, outside my window, the aging Palomino slept
Standing up in the moonlight, with one rear hoof slightly cocked,
And the moonlight slept.
The white dust slept betwee...more
Jul 19, 2012 Reid rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Reid by: GR Jenna Le
I'm not a poetry reader, and not one of his poems stand out, to me, as great. But, each one is meditative. I'd like to be in his head and get out of my own head for a while. His words make me wish no one could speak, to let the world speak for itself. More accurately, I'd like to think more like him, to imbue everything with a lasting significance, and reading his poetry helps accomplish that, if only briefly.
Sam Rasnake
A book to read a hundred books. Amazing.
Passionate, narrative-driven poems in a discursive free-verse style. On the subject of his parents, Levis writes: "[T]heir frail bodies/...Reminded me of ravines on either side of the road,/When I ran,/And did not know why." It is this image of Levis as an 17-year-old working-class boy trying to run away from his parents and from his past that gives the first section of Winter Stars its remarkable poignancy. The book's middle section, "Let Nothing You Dismay," is rather feeble in comparison, pro...more
Patricia Murphy
Came back to this book today after asking a poet-friend to look at "Adolescence" as a way to think about transitions in a narrative with multiple settings. This book feels like home to me, after so many readings. Filled with marginalia. And since it's Poem Monday I drew inspiration again from some lines. Here are a few favorites:

The trees wearing their mysterious yellow sullenness
Like party dresses.

And the quail slept perfectly, like untouched triangles.

And vines like woodwinds twisted into sha...more
Levis' poems are beautiful, well written, well crafted. But, for some reason, I just can't get into them. I think perhaps it's because his poems tend to be long, sometimes too long, for all their beauty. Also Levis chooses to put the book together chronologically, without thinking about carefully crafting a book of poems within a distinct arc. I have a hard time reading poems, especially really long poems, that don't seem able to blend into the poem after it in some way, that keeps momentum in t...more
Kyle Muntz
One interesting thing about Levis’s project is how novel-ish it is. His themes and even on occasion his voice (because of how unbroken it is, and the sort of earthy, linear progression of his ideas) feel reminiscent to fiction of me, like if Levis didn’t write poems he would have been trying to write a Great American Novel of some sort. The themes of fatherhood, country life, and the certain kind of sexuality he fixates on give me that feel as well. Of course, I don’t LIKE Great American Novels...more
Michael Roberts
We did not know we were lights dancing on black water.
Aug 07, 2012 S.B. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like Terrence Malick movies
Shelves: poetry
And for years I believed / That what went unsaid between us became empty, / And pure, like starlight, & that it persisted.

I got it all wrong. / I wound up believing in words the way a scientist / Believes in carbon, after death.

I like when poems seem to just talk and talk and talk without making a big deal about clever word play (or maybe it's just that I prefer prose.) Working-man poems. The more personal they are the better. I think Levis does this very well and with few mistakes (for ins...more
So want to give this wonderful collection five stars, but compared to "Elegy" can't quite. Wonderful opening poems ('specially "The Cry"!!) and closing poems (the whole section "Sensationalism") but somewhere in the middle felt the energy (my energy?) lag a bit. Still, quite marvelous. Levis heightens the confessional into the visionary.
Gerry LaFemina
This may be my favorite book of poems--Levis's long, beautiful meditations made me want to write poems, and this book, starting with the poem "The Poet at 17" engages the speaker with his conversational voice, his lateral moving mind, and his attention to detail and craft--the attuned nature of his eye and ear.
Stunning. Deliberately retrospective, not quite nostalgic.
John Nelson
I loved the title poem the first time I read it, and I still do. Some of the others in the collection are not so strong. The author frequently slips into free verse, which even if it is poetry, is very difficult to pull off, and almost no one does it successfull.
One of THE best books of poetry of all time. I challenge you non-poetry readers out there (I've heard there are a few) to read this and still be able to say: "I just don't get poetry." Levis at his best: accessible, hilarious, master-magician extraordinaire!
Levis maintains a tone of wonder couples with unapologetic images of violence, despair and self-awareness throughout the collection. His longer poems are very adept at creating tension while still evoking a beautiful lyricism.
One of those life-altering books that shows you what a poetic voice is capable of conveying. "Sensationalism," the title many amazing works.
Larry Levis is one of my favorite poets. This and Elegy are his best collections in my opinion.
this is my very favorite book of all time.

It is.

The going to what lasts.

the book that sustains me.
Alejandro Curchitser
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Larry Patrick Levis was born in Fresno, California, on September 30, 1946. His father was a grape grower, and in his youth Levis drove a tractor, pruned vines, and picked grapes in Selma, California. He earned a bachelor's degree from Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno) in 1968, a master's degree from Syracuse University in 1970, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa i...more
More about Larry Levis...
Elegy The Selected Levis The Widening Spell of the Leaves The Afterlife The Gazer Within

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