WATERED COLORS (2014)
-- Bonnie Squires
“If Emily Dickinson and Ernest Hemingway lived at the same time in the same place and had a son together, he might have been a lot like Michael Levin. This strong collection demonstrates Levin’s ability to use words sparingly to create lasting images whose imaginative sensitivity, empathy for people he’s met, and others throughout the ages resonate through the searing or beautiful mind-pictures he paints. This is memorable work.”
Journalist, consultant, Best Women in Pennsylvania Business 2008 (Wynnewood, Pennsylvania)
and look with Michael Levin. The seasons, our relationships, the colors
and the water — so much full of wonder, so much that echoes with pain.
Our senses are heightened and our sensibilities deepened. It’s a gift to
see it all so fresh."
Former Secretary of the Navy (Washington DC)
“Michael Levin's poems are colored by love and loss, by nature, by history and family, by the America in which he lives and the Europe of World War II. There are joys and beauties here along with loss and atrocities. Above all, the narrator seeks, as in Jewish tradition, to Choose Life!”
-- Judith McCombs
Author: The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New (Silver Spring, Maryland)
“This fine collection chronicles the author's life journeys. While several poems recall losses he has experienced and celebrate lives that have
ended, it is the joy he finds in his house by the sea and in his family
that informs the book. In one of many moving evocations he declares his
love for "my first-born's love," his future daughter-in-law on her
birthday. This is a book that affirms familial affection and in the
words of the prophet chooses life, in all its wondrous forms.”
-- Lucie Prinz
Author and former editor, The Atlantic (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
"[These poems contain] that fleeting essence of life that no other art form can capture.”
-- Cynthia Riggs
Author (West Tisbury, Massachusetts)
"Calm observations showing poetry makes us alive as we can be."
-- Grace Cavalieri
Best Books for May 2014
Washington Independent Review of Books (Washington DC)
A "debut collection [rich in] . . .emotional imagery."
-- Harvard Magazine, May/June 2014 (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Martha's Vineyard to Treblinka, birth to old age, Levin's debut volume
of poetry crosses myriad borders to paint lasting images of anonymous
doormen and beloved pet dogs, brothers and fathers, the living and the
MAN OVERBOARD (2018)
“…for openness is all the earth we have… Before clouds close and darkness rules, Michael Levin directs his eye towards gloomy spots and illuminates them. His pen is a painter’s brush, creating transparency with unexpected depth. His work transports me to the essence of moments in different times and places, with unusual clarity. Following him I walk through landscapes and moods, sharp-edged forms and fading contours. I breathe new air — and smell it. I sense vividly the spaces he conjures — be it the wide space of Chile’s fateful immensity, or the tiny cramped space of an emergent Hitler’s bathroom, narrow and angry. Each time I read these poems, new paths reveal themselves."
-- Katrine Suwalski
International jazz musician, composer, band leader and music educator (Copenhagen, Denmark)
"Michael Levin’s poems are a captivating collection of dramatic slices of life netted over the course of decades. Rhythmic, accessible passages read like colorful murals, describing tastes, sounds, and visions in sensual tones and longings, connecting to intimate relationships with people and places he has known or imagined. This book was like an elixir. It soothed during a time of great stress."
-- Gail Prensky
Executive Producer, Meteopa Productions; Founding Director & Executive Producer, The Jüdische Kulturbund Project (Washington DC)
"In Man Overboard you’ll relive the mopped antiseptic floor of a grandfather’s assisted living facility and the harried white-shoe squeak of a son’s ER stay. In these 29 mostly short poems you’ll also visit the Valley of the Kings. Laguna Beach, and a young Hitler shaving. Most of all, Michael Levin’s fresh descriptors and flowing line will carry you to a moment — a moment of acknowledgement, different in each poem but similar in their power to strike sparks. Engaged readers might remember Wordsworth’s 'emotion recollected in tranquility.' That line acquires new life here."
-- James Herbert
Director, Research and Education Program, National Endowment for the Humanities (ret.) (Kent Island, Maryland)
"Levin’s poetry circumnavigates the globe like a time-traveling Indiana Jones and sticks a shiny fork deep into earth’s volcanic heart. Family poems coexist with others about Pompeii, Marilyn Monroe, John Ashbery, Hitler, Oxford, and the Royal Tombs of Ur. It’s an omnibus, and Levin is the tour guide, MC, and conscience, balancing repetition and internal rhyme — the compass to plot our course and bring us back alive."
-- Richard Peabody
Editor, Gargoyle Magazine (Arlington, Virginia)
"The takeaway in reading Levin is how many places he tackles and how many ideas he generates. It’s a kaleidoscope of pop culture, high culture, and personal experience. He’s learnèd in a sweet unpretentious way with a knowledge of sculpture, history and artifacts — these embedded, not dominating the writing. I would say variety is a good word for poetry. This writer has a trained ear for this; each poem is different, and there’s no repetition to be seen. The talent in Man Overboard is tonal, with a repudiation of ugliness in the world."
-- Grace Cavalieri
Best Books for December 2018
Washington Independent Review of Books (Washington DC)
". . . what a treasure of thoughtfulness, of history, of art, of people, of relationships, of love and loss, of life itself. . . the range, the sweep, the depth, the frankness, the wisdom, the horrendous, the lyrical, the call to arms for all of us from ancient times to the present, the humanity of it. . . . Deserves a huge audience."
-- Hon. Andrew Maguire
Former Congressman and Senatorial candidate (D-NJ) (San Francisco, California)
"Very moving work. What keen observation!"
-- Cheryl Wasserman
President, Environmental Governance Institute International (Washington DC)
thread of these poems bears witness to the pains and the joys, the tragedies
and the comedies, of our season as Americans in a troubled world that we did so
much to create. Another bears witness to personal love and loss.
Together they weave a resonant fugue."
William A. Nitze
Independent Energy/Technology Investor; former Assistant Administrator for International Activities, US EPA (Washington DC)
"Rarely have intelligence and musicality entwined
to create such meticulous poetry. Like its closing poem, “Trinity,” this
book is a Promethean effort that leaves us “braced” with “stunned relief.”
It also is a grand round trip through history, music, and art. Ranging
from Odysseus and Othello to endangered pianists in 1930s Germany and a ruined
Iraqi Street of Books, “Falcons” brings us back each time to more of what we
didn’t know we needed, until we found it here."
-- Donald Illich
Author, Chance Bodies (Word Works, 2018); President, The
Federal Poets (Washington DC)
"Levin is one of the world’s most
accomplished creators of environmental laws that truly work. There his
media are science, economics, law and politics. Here, amazingly, his
poetry flows gently and captures life’s subtleties."
-- Bill Drayton
Founder and CEO,
Ashoka: Everyone a Changemaker; former Assistant
Administrator for Planning and Management, US EPA (1977-80) (Arlington VA)
"The poems in Falcons
link geography and topography to journeys of the body, mind, and spirit, almost
like a poetic Baedekers that guides us beyond cities and their
attractions to worlds and their meanings. These poems are full of gods, heroes,
beasts, and other creatures, all of which stand in for aspects of humanity
and the human experience—especially love, death, and fear. These poems connect—and thereby
connect the reader—to the great epics
of journeying, wandering, and return."
-- Michael Broder
Editor, What Rough Beast; Publisher, Indolent Books (Brooklyn NY)
"The[se] poems are just amazing, and evocative, and startling, and wonderful . . . . I will go back to [this collection] again and again."-- Leslie Ritts
"My copy arrived today, and I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying it!! I thought I'd read one or two, and then put it aside for a few days. But I found myself going from poem to poem, effortlessly floating on your words. What a wonderful book."
-- Terry Braunstein
Internationally-recognized multimedia and book artist (Long Beach CA)
"In Falcons, his third collection, Michael Levin breaks with the usual notion of a themed chapbook. Instead, his 30 poems weave a rich tapestry with varied but captivating threads: from the natural world -- birds, flies, ponds, gardens -- to the world of myth and literature, with poems addressing Odysseus, Achilles, Othello, and Omar Khayyam, and poems of place, such as Baghdad, Vietnam, Florence, and the Galapagos. . . . Along the way, Levin includes elegiac looks at his parents, his former lovers, and the inevitable recognition of increasing age (“Then we were old. / It happened suddenly / while we were looking back"). . . .The day after the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I read “Cloaked Lamps,” a poem about his mother, and was struck by the powerful last lines: “Do not abide, / she’d say, though fearful of the cost: / uncloak the Lady’s lamp. / Stride forth. Persist.”
-- Sally Zakariya,