Cover image for Enola Gay
Enola Gay
Levine, Mark, 1965-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
79 pages ; 20 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3562.E8978 E56 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Some devastation has struck the soul and the Earth alike, and in Enola Gay , his second volume of poems, Mark Levine surveys the disaster. Here is a volume of poetry approaching Carolyn Forche's The Angel of History as a stark meditation on Blanchot's sense of writing as the "desired, undesired torment which endures everything."

Levine engages the traditional resources of lyric poetry in an exploration of historical and cultural landscapes ravaged by imponderable events. Enola Gay' s "mission" can seem spiritual, imaginative, and militaristic as the speaker in these poems surveys marshes and fields and a land on the edge of disintegration. Levine sifts the psychological residue that accumulates in the wake of unspeakable acts and so negotiates that terrain between the banality of language and the need to stand witness and to speak.

Levine's stunning second book, with its grave cultural implications and its surveillance of a distinctly postmodern malaise, offers multiple readings. Here are compact poems with uncanny power, rhythm, and a strange, formal beauty echoing and renewing the legacy of Wallace Stevens for a new era.

Author Notes

Mark Levine is author of Debt , Jorie Graham's selection for publication in the National Poetry Series in 1993. He has received a Whiting Writers Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. In 1994-1995 he was the Hodder Fellow in the Humanities at Princeton. He teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. As a contributor to The New Yorker and Outside , Levine has reported on cultural, environmental, and social issues on four continents.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The follow up to Levine's debut Debt (1993) finds the poet spinning confrontational riffs on the same big questions that vexed him before: how can art survive a great disaster (a world war, say)? How can it not make promises it can't keep? And how far can a poem's language crack before it breaks up like an ice floe, giving a lyric speaker no place or tradition on which to stand? Levine explores these questions in poems whose agitated "I" and "he" and "we" can represent ghosts, or dead poets (as in a poem called "John Keats"), or "Everybody," as in the poem of that name: "Everybody is visiting the gravesite of the President/ leaving plastic cups filled with wine and chocolate./ Everybody is holding their breath as the song approaches its end." Where Debt addressed the Middle East and the Holocaust, the new poems sometimes depict with a surer hand the gutted and bombed-out landscapes of postwar Japan and Europe. Levine wants, and gets, disturbing, paradoxical, tones--deadpan awe, sympathetic self-suspicion, outraged weariness: "the splash is coming, the reader is coming, the law/ is coming wearing Mother's private wig." In "Susan Fowler" Levine's "he" (perhaps a spy) encounters a violent, bearded man whose "shirt said `Susan Fowler'": "He wanted to laugh but could not decide/ if laughter was an appropriate response." The book as a whole is a kind of triumph, one which perhaps does for poetry what David Foster Wallace has done for prose fiction. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Then for the Seventh Night
Eclipse, Eclipse
Susan Fowler
Jack and Jill
Counting the Forests
The Response
My Friend
A Harvest
Two Springs
Island Life
Riddles of Flight
Enola Gay
The Holy Pail
John Keats
Unlike Graham
Winter Occasional
How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear
By Edward Lear
A Focus on the Elemental Oven (Six Moments)
New Song
Jean Cocteau
Moon Mistaken
Chimney Song
Light Years
The Fixed Wing
Elegy (Terence Freitas)
Wedding Day