Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose
My poetry, feature journalism and literary criticism have appeared in three collections and many periodicals or anthologies. For that I have numerous collaborators and supporters to thank, preeminently including my life partner Nora Jean Bieler Levin. The list of what she, my family, and my teacher-inspirers have put up with on my behalf is too long to collect here.
The teachers may have been particularly tried, though in shorter bursts. They range from an iconoclastic high-school English teacher at Philadelphia's Central High School (Dr. Gerald Hamm), through my dissertation supervisor at Oxford (Merton Professor Nevill Coghill), to family members and professional colleagues who taught me much though they didn't realize they were teaching -- and who tolerated my mental absences or late-shows at meetings when I was preoccupied with other things. Nevill Coghill holds a special place for his elegant patience, for being principal witness at our marriage in England, and for allowing me to serve as production manager for his Doctor Faustus starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor -- an experience that resulted in my only film credit. The poem Stone Steps is part of the tribute to him here.
Most of this work was written between and around a busy professional life that included two decades in federal government as an appellate lawyer and executive with EPA and other agencies, in the Carter White House, and as Congressional Fellow to Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). The busy part carried on through private practice at national or regional law firms. It has declined only slightly through my current activities as an environmental / transactions lawyer and solar energy developer.
I received honors degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School and an M.Litt. in English Language and Literature (concentration: theatre) from Oxford University, where I was a Penn Thouron Fellow for two years. These credentials are less important than the worlds they opened up. For that, for the generosity of the Thouron family, and for feedback from the Federal Poets group and other committed readers, I remain grateful.
"Pawprints," Jazz Composition by Katrine Suwalski, Lyrics by Michael Levin -- Premiere, Paradise Jazz Club, Copenhagen, 9/17/14.
Cathrine Legardh, vocals; Katrine Suwalski, sax; Marie Schmidt, piano; Helle Marstrand, double bass.
(Lyrics from Ragtime: After the Death of
Our Sled Dog (2014)) -- see Readings)
"High Bush Blueberries"
Premiere, Copenhagen, 11/1/14
Group; Another World
vocals, piano,Rikki Shelde;
accordion; Jens Skou Olsen, bass; Benita Hastrup; drums; trombone. Ayi Solomon, percussion; Lis Wessberg; Katrine S;uwalski, sax
High Bush Blueberries
Crowns past reaching. Yet
small girls stretch tiptoe,
wreathed in twigs, light-boned as birds.
(From Vineyard Summer: Snapshots (2008))