Louise Landes Levi

louise-1Louise Landes Levi is a poet/performer-translator/traveler and a founding member of Daniel Moore’s Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, America’s first fusion orchestra. After receiving a BA, with Honors, from UC-Berkeley, and studying at Mills College with the sarangi-master Pandit Ram Narayan, she traveled alone overland to Afghanistan in the late 1960s and to India, via Istanbul, Tabriz, Mashed, Herat, Khandahar, Kabul, Peshawar, Rawalpundi and Lahore, to research North Indian sangeet (classical music) and its poetic tradition. Several translations followed: Rene Daumal’s classic study of Indian Aesthetics, RASA (New Directions, 1982); from the Middle Hindi of Mira Bai, an archetypal singer-saint of the 16th century, Sweet On My Lips: The Love Poems of Mira Bai (Cool Grove Press, 1997, 2003 & 2016); and Henri Michaux’s Toward Totality: Selected Poems (Shivastan, 2006). She has published more than a dozen books of poetry and autobiographical prose, including most recently: Love Cantos, 1-5 (Jack In Your Box, 2011); The Book L (Cool Grove Press, 2010); Tower 2/Tara or dc-x (Il Bagatto, 2009); Banana Baby, with facing Italian translations by Alessandro Tuoni (Super Nova, 2006); and Avenue A & Ninth Street (Shivastan, 2004). Her electronic chapbooks may be found at the website Big Bridge. Her recordings include most recently: From the Ming Oracle (Sloowax, 2014), an instrumental and spoken word compilation of her works from the late sixties to the near present; City of Delirium (Sloow Tapes, 2011); and the forthcoming LP Colloidal Love Poem (AudioMER.). John Giorno writes: “Her poems sing in the mind and dance through the heart and throat, and arms & legs, w. great clarity and bliss. Louise is Saranswati, goddess of poetry.” Levi has studied with such masters as Annapurna Devi, Ali Akbar Khan & La Monte Young. When not performing, she lives in a stone tower in Bagnore, Italy, with winter quarters in New York, her birthplace, and elsewhere.

Crazy Louise (or la Conversazione Sacra)

Louise Landes Levi

Louise Landis Levi’s Crazy Louise (or la Conversazione Sacra) is a close view of sexual trauma, a reading and rewriting of the body, political and personal, in a series of poems. A deliberate departure―both from the formal construction of her previous works and from her focus on early (medieval) forms of feminine process and liberation (Sweet on My Lips, the Love Poems of Mira Bai), Levi here works close to home in a personal, often fragmented process....

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Louise Landes Levi

Louise Landis Levi’s Crazy Louise (or la Conversazione Sacra) is a close view of sexual trauma, a reading and rewriting of the body, political and personal, in a series of poems. A deliberate departure―both from the formal construction of her previous works and from her focus on early (medieval) forms of feminine process and liberation (Sweet on My Lips, the Love Poems of Mira Bai), Levi here works close to home in a personal, often fragmented process. She details and deconstructs conventions relating to maternal instinct, hierarchical lineage and the suffering of female perceptual process within patriarchal constructs unable to recognize it. Levi writes as an “initiate,” redeeming oriental schools of “crazy” (unconventional) wisdom, or open mind, from the debilitating, socially invasive use of this same term in the occidental world. This series of untitled poems comprises writings ca.1992-2002 and serves as an introduction to the poet’s work―indeed unveiling, as the cover portrait of the author by legendary photographer Ira Cohen suggests. As Levi writes, “Ira knew how to look―he could prophesy through the lens. He knew I would one day unveil myself. Dear Reader, you certainly cannot tell a book by its cover―if you could these pages would be written in gold.”


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