Levis Larry(c-Jay-Paul)

Larry Levis (1946-1996). Photo by Jay Paul. Courtesy Poetry Out Loud.

Larry Levis
Born September 30, 1946(1946-Template:MONTHNUMBER-30)
Fresno, California
Died May 8, 1996(1996-Template:MONTHNUMBER-08)
Richmond, Virginia
Occupation Poet, short story writer, literary critic, college professor

Larry Patrick Levis (September 30, 1946 - May 8, 1996) was an American poet and academic.[1]


Levis was born in Fresno, California, the son of a grape grower; he grew up driving a tractor, picking grapes, and pruning vines of Selma, California, a small fruit-growing town in the San Joaquin Valley. He later wrote of the farm, the vineyards, and the Mexican migrant workers that he worked alongside. He also remembered hanging out in the local billiards parlor on Selma's East Front Street, across from the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.

Levis earned a bachelor's degree from Fresno State College in 1968, a master's degree from Syracuse University in 1970, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1974.

Levis taught English at the University of Missouri from 1974-1980. From 1980 to 1992, he taught at the creative writing program at the University of Utah. He was co-editor of Missouri Review, from 1977 to 1980.[2] From 1992 until his death in 1996 he was a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.[3]

Larry Levis died of a heart attack in Richmond, Virginia on May 8, 1996, at the age of 49.


Levis won the United States Award from the International Poetry Forum for his first book of poems, Wrecking Crew (1972), which included publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The Academy of American Poets named his second book, The Afterlife (1976), the Lamont Poetry Selection .

His book The Dollmaker's Ghost was a winner of the Open Competition of the National Poetry Series. Other awards included a YM-YWHA Discovery award, three fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a 1982 Guggenheim Fellowship. His poems are featured in American Alphabets: 25 Contemporary Poets (2006) and in many other anthologies.

Virgina Commonwealth University annually awards the Levis Reading Prize in his remembrance (articles about Levis and the prize are featured each year in Blackbird, an online journal of literature and the arts).



  • Wrecking Crew. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972.
  • The Rain's Witness (pamphlet). Southwick Press, 1975.
  • The Afterlife. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1977.
  • (With Marcia Southwick) The Leopard's Mouth Is Dry and Cold Inside (prose poems, seven by Levis and seven by Southwick). St. Louis, MO: Gentile, 1980.
  • The Dollmaker's Ghost. New York: Dutton, 1981.
  • Sensationalism. Iowa City, IA: Corycian, 1982.
  • Winter Stars. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.
  • The Widening Spell of the Leaves. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.
  • Elegy. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.
  • The Selected Levis. PIttsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.

Short fictionEdit

  • Black Freckles. Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Books, 1992.


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[2]

Audio / video Edit

  • Sound recordings of Levis include an October, 1977, broadcast on the radio program "New Letters on the Air," Kansas City, MO; and, with Thylias Moss, a February 14, 1991 recording made in the Montpelier Room at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. "Larry P. Levis, 49, Poet and Professor", The New York Times, May 20, 1996
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Larry Levis 1946-1996, Poetry Foundation, Web, Oct. 30, 2012.
  3. Larry Levis, Academy of American Poets,, Web, Oct. 30, 2012.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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