Monday, April 13, 2015

Where I Sit, poems by Donald Lev

Poet Donald Lev

Where I Sit, poems by Donald Lev, Presa Press, P.O. 792, Rockford, Michigan 49341, 88 pages, $15.95.

Review by Barbara Bialick

The first thing I noticed about the book Where I Sit was the appealing cover painting of a young woman sitting alone in a restaurant with a glass of red wine.  This collection must be by someone who knows a lot about life, I thought. Then I felt the paper, the paper of the book itself, which was so smooth, I could easily turn from poem to poem. I did not however, pick up sensuality as a theme, however. More like thoughts from a craggy, older, male journalist who writes for a living, never at a loss for a word he thinks will be a zinger.

“Spring has come,/With a lot of wind and sun/And rain./Pain, too,/To rhyme with rain./Not that I needed the rhyme. I just/Wanted it.” 

Such are these poems. The author writes them short and quick because he “wants it” that way.

His style then is like in the poem “One Brick at a Time”—in which he steals bricks from a shopping mall construction site that seems to be overly loaded with them. The shopping mall long built, he still hasn’t built anything with the bricks he took.  He’s still “working on it”…

But Lev has thought a lot about time.  He’s older than us baby boomer poets who think we know it all. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, in 1945, he was already nine years old and “had known no other president…I thought I’d tell you this,” he wrote.

So if you buy this book you can probably learn a few ideas. In “All Art” he says, “I always begin with the frame./All art is limitation.”

He may say he’s “clueless” that he’s had a “long, clueless life”, but that is his “boast.”
He’s not really clueless at all…  Donald Lev, born in 1936, lives in High Falls, New York, where he publishes The Home Planet News, which he founded with his late wife, Enid Dame in 1979.  He went to Hunter College and worked at both The Daily News and The New York Times. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry including A Very Funny Fellow, NYQ Books, in 2012. He has coordinated poetry readings at many venues and hosted “Open Poetry” on WNYC Radio.

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