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Hearing Things

Hearing Things and Other Arts

Carlo Levy


In this book of poems, collages, and short inquiries, the poet wonders about the source of his voices, questioning those talking in the dreamlife, in the invisible world all around us, though he suspects the dream only continues in all of our conversations. How far can his work take him if, like Alice, his queries only encourage the paradox, as if our friends too were those mad characters making and changing the rules with authority? Has the poet become a timid version of the monster in a folk song, an individual whom the town must carefully subdue, enlisting Pete Seeger and his banjo and the child with the magic wand? Can he find Peace with Sgt. Pepper’s Band and the beautiful, old baseball cards of the minor leagues, made in the time of his grandfather, the Polish tailor, or will Apollinaire’s Parisian example prevail?

Do the voices arise from a kind of divine gossip, which we all create and hear, accidentally or not, while the dreams reveal our alliances each night? The chance operations of the poet’s serpentine collages picture lost circles of dream lives, hiding strange tasks and arrangements in the wide world, without a known religion behind them. Something needs fixing though, at the center, and the poet is getting tired out and a little mad at us, though he attempts to be courteous, like honest Alice. Someone could be fooling him, and who are the demons and angels of surveillance? Who is taking notes in the tower near the fields of lentils?

Making his world into a book may have been futile, after all these years, but still, where privacy and dreams overlap maybe others will find something charming in his work, following along with curiosity. Is he reluctantly saying goodbye to his mother and the old world she helped make welcoming, the joy of belonging? As we read to the end, we may wonder, if we are skeptical, whether this poet will ever know exactly what he has gotten himself into, but we have his book to hold onto now and read again, perhaps thinking about all the questions that can’t be answered, and how our own imaginations work.

Paperback - $12.00

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