This Need to Dance / This Need to Kneel

Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith

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Michael P. Murphy, Melissa Bradshaw
  • Eugene, OR: 
    Wipf & Stock
    , September
     244 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Lyle Enright forthcoming.


That Denise Levertov (1923–97) was one of the most pioneering and skilled poets of her generation is beyond dispute. Her masterly use of language, innovative experimentations with organic form, and the political acuity disclosed by her activist poetry are well marked by critical communities. But it is also quite clear that the poems Levertov wrote in the last twenty years of her life, with their more explicit focus on theological themes and subjects, are among the best poems written on religious experience of any century, let alone the twentieth. The collection of essays gathered here shed vital light on this neglected aspect of Levertov studies so as to expand and enrich the scope of critical engagement. In a mixture of theoretical considerations and close readings, these essays provide valuable reflections about the complex relationship between poetry and belief and offer philosophically robust insights into different styles of poetic imagination. The abiding hope is to broaden the terrain for discussions in twenty-first-century theology, literary theory, poetics, and aesthetics—honoring immanence, exploring transcendence, and dwelling with integrity within the spaces between.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Michael P. Murphy is Director of the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of A Theology of Criticism: Balthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination (2008). Recent writings include “Breaking Bodies: O’Connor and the Aesthetics of Consecration,” in the edited volume Revelation and Convergence (2017).

Melissa Bradshaw is a Senior Lecturer in English at Loyola University Chicago. Her work focuses on publicity, personality, and fandom in twentieth-century British and American poetry. Her book Amy Lowell, Diva Poet (2011) won the 2011 MLA Book Prize for Independent Scholars. She has also published on Edith Sitwell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and on divas more generally.