The Denise Levertov papers provide a remarkable window into the life of this important English-born, American poet. According
to Kenneth Rexroth, Denise Levertov was "the most subtly skillful poet of her generation, the most profound, the most modest,
the most moving." Her papers document the process of her writing, her relationships with others of her generation, and the
role of this "poet in the world."
The family papers (series 1), which feature substantial correspondence with Levertov's mother, with her former husband Mitchell
Goodman and with her son, combine with Levertov's personal papers to offer a rich source for biographical study. The manuscripts
(series 2) and notebooks (series 3) document Levertov's creative process, recording the development of individual poems from
earliest drafts to printed texts. Levertov's correspondence (series 4) with other writers and public figures open numerous
avenues into contemporary literary and social history. Especially important are the letters from fellow writers William Carlos
Williams, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Hayden Carruth, Gael Turnbull, Eve Triem, and Susan Glickman. Also important is the
correspondence with Levertov's longtime editor at New Directions, James Laughlin. The remainder of the collection contains
Levertov's professional papers (series 5), accumulated printed materials, and personal artifacts. Taken together, these papers
provide the researcher with as complete a portrait of Levertov and her times as is currently available.
Denise Levertov, an Anglo-American poet who took up such social and political issues as the Vietnam war and nuclear proliferation,
was born in Ilford, England, in 1923. The daughter of a prominent scholar and a Welsh mother, Levertov was privately educated
in England before coming to the United States in 1948 with her husband, the American novelist Mitchell Goodman. In nearly
fifty years, in 24 volumes of poems, Levertov became one of the United States's most prominent writers. Her writing is uncompromising,
dignified by a spare and clear style and with an immediacy of language in the tradition of William Carlos Williams. For example,
in "The ache of marriage," Levertov writes:
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