death and dying

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Can Poetry Heal the Planet?

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There’s a 40-year interval between Stephen Levine’s previous book of poetry and his latest—that’s quite a span. Though his books of prose have found over a million readers, this newest book flies under the radar. Why? One is the still-marginal place of poetry in American culture. For book publishers, the “poetry marketplace” (a kind of oxymoron, since poetry operates largely outside the cash nexus), is largely fueled by writing programs in academia. True, Coleman Barks’ renditions of medieval Sufi poet Rumi captivated a national audience, for a spell. But America’s own living, devotional, mystic poets find a much smaller audience, and slip through the cracks of critical discourse.

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