Kouros

Blow after vertical blow severed you from the rock-face
in the abandoned quarry

the impact shatters the crystals deep inside you

and renders you opaque, lying there like a stunned space warrior,

oversized, grey-speckled feet pointing seaward
above the rooftops, while your double, sprawled in a grove

on the other side of the island, is having his torso

tickled by overhanging branches. – Imperturbable

youth, who once strode forward smiling, hands clenched
at your sides, undeterred, provides a seat

for the span of an hour. I hadn’t realized the long descent

from the village-that-makes-verses on the mountain slope

would tire me so, leaning against your foursquare
frame, I doze, and wake, and doze again,

while the industrious ant, mistaking me for the figure

I’ve come to admire in its gritty silence, must about-face

as my right leg shudders and twitches involuntarily,
as if to say, behold the man.

by Gabriel Levin

This Thursday (11 October), Steven Matthews, the Director of Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, will be launching his collection of poetry, Skying (Waterloo Press, 2012). The launch will take place at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, and will begin at 7pm. Steven will be reading from this new collection alongside Helen Farish, whose own recent collection, Nocturnes at Nohant: The Decade of Chopin and Sand, is published by Bloodaxe Books.

‘Kouros’ is copyright © Gabriel Levin, 2012. It is reprinted from To These Dark Steps (2012) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Gabriel Levin’s fourth collection, To These Dark Steps, moves from the Mediterranean world that has engaged his imagination for the last thirty years, to the sombre title sequence written in the shadow of Israel’s bombardment and incursion into Gaza in 2008. These striking poems and their prose commentary (The Fathers are Watching) navigate between the depredations of war and the mind’s need to disengage itself from its surroundings. The final section of this articulate and compassionate book is a fifteen-sonnet cycle dispatched from the shores of an unnamed island, which could be everyman’s abode, in search of what might lie yonder.

Gabriel Levin was born in France, grew up in the United States, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1972. He has published three earlier collections of poetry and translations from Hebrew, French and Arabic. His translation from the medieval Hebrew of Yehuda Halevi, Poems from the Diwan, also appeared with Anvil (2002). His essays on the geographical and imaginative reach of the Levant have appeared in literary journals in England and the United States.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Vigil

The log flared on the grate
as I poked its side, poor demon

left to its own devices, hissed
blue lipped, then shriveled

into itself like a stunned
worm, before turning to ashes;

I stirred in my chair, half conscious
of darkness lapping –

even you, my lambent fawn, soft
hammered in copper,

leapt back into the shadows
of the holy mountain

(whose rock makes us fierce)
with nothing to confess

when I rose without ceremony
and called it a night.

by Gabriel Levin

‘Vigil’ is copyright © Gabriel Levin, 2008. It is reprinted from The Maltese Dreambook (2008) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

With Jerusalem as its epicentre, The Maltese Dreambook extends Gabriel Levin‘s quarter-century-long ramble through the Levant, his adopted homeland. On a Greek island, in the desert wastes of southern Jordan, and in Malta, whose Stone Age temples serve as a backdrop to the title poem, this collection abounds in unforeseen encounters that blur the borders between the phantasmal and the real, the modern and the archaic, the rational and the imaginary.

Gabriel Levin was born in France, grew up in the United States, and has been living in Jerusalem since 1972. He has published two collections of poetry, Sleepers of Beulah (1992) and Ostraca (1999), and several translations from the Hebrew, French, and Arabic, including a selection of Yehuda Halevi’s poetry, Poems from the Diwan (Anvil, 2002). He is one of the founding editors of Ibis Editions, a small press established in Jerusalem in 1997 and dedicated to the publication, in English, of literature from the Levant. His new collection To These Dark Steps will be published by Anvil this month. You can find out more about Levin’s books on Anvil’s site, and read a review of The Maltese Dreambook here.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos. Visit Anvil’s website here, where you can sign up to their mailing list to find out about new publications and events.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.