Blessed Arrangement, by Larry Levy
The first section of Larry Levy’s fine fourth collection of poems powerfully addresses our current political reality, expressing empathy for migrant children and other victims while attacking the callous hypocrisy of some of our leaders. Further poems evoke the complex but mostly loving world of clearly seen individuals—a Zapotecan, a wizardly old cook, an exchange student, Levy’s own immigrant ancestors—as well as two mischievous cats and sundry other precisely rendered animals. Overall, these poems, using rhyming forms with skill and grace, show a wide-ranging intelligence looking perceptively at everything from childhood to old age, and much of the life in between. Readers will want to enter and savor this wholly inviting book.
—Skip Renker, author of Bearing the Cast
A longtime reader and admirer of Larry Levy’s poetry, I’m so very taken with this new collection. In past poems, there were hints of the political, hints of a way to look at the world. “Let them see it subtly, through a veil,” Levy seemed to say. Now, especially in the poems of the first section, This is Our Street. And You’re Not Us, Levy pulls off the veil. Pulls off the gloves. “Listen now,” these poems say. “I’m going to say it plain.” I don’t write this lightly when I say these are poems for our times.
—Jeff Vande Zande, author of The Neighborhood Division
Larry Levy’s poetry has always been deeply spiritual, and in this new collection he navigates the physical, moral, and political elements of our lives on “our spinning stone.” The echoes of the Holocaust serve as subtle reminders of the fractured time we now live in and push us to examine our own beliefs, actions, and leaders. The realization that we are purposely being divided into “Takers, Voting Cheats, Women, Blacks, Immigrants” calls on us to question our fractious divisions and too-often convenient understanding of each other that leave us “Lost boys and girls / at a loss for words.” In these poems, the world is traveled, from Europe to Mexico to the familiar terrain of Michigan, as well as past and present, as lessons are gleaned from the ball diamonds of youth, a beloved family cat, and personal histories. In the end, Levy’s poems remind us of one over-riding truth: You must survive.
—John Jeffire, author of Motown Burning
Reading Larry Levy’s poems, I feel like I’m listening to my best friend telling me what’s on his mind. Whether he’s writing about the struggles of his ancestors when they came to this country or the current political situation or the death of his pet cat, Larry is always there in his words, telling me what has to be told in language that is crisp and honest and moving. I can’t think of a better poet to listen to.
—John Guzlowski, author of Echoes of Tattered Tongues