After getting a better insight into Austin Smith’s background and hearing about how Larry Levis is one of the poets who inspires him, I wanted to do some more research on Larry Levis. This helped me find some strong connections between Austin and Levis that tells me a little more about Austin as a poet. I found this interview that was done with a close friend of Larry Levis’ after his death, and it really laid out some important details of his life that tie closely to Austin’s. Levis talks about the the Midwest as well as his father in “Winter Stars.”
Tonight, I’m talking to you, father, although
It is quiet here in the Midwest, where a small wind,
The size of a wrist, wakes the cold again–
Which may be all that’s left between you & me.
His father is a common theme between throughout his poems and that seems to be one of the reasons Austin is so influenced by him. They have very similar backgrounds and both seem to have drawn from similar circumstances from their childhoods when writing their poems. Another connection I noticed between the two is the incorporation of humor into their poems. Austin told us about how a lot of times his natural humor seems to slip into his poems without him intending to, and that seems to have been the case with Levis as well. In the interview I read, Levis’ friend mentions how he was able to break a tense moment with a quick and humorous line. He talks about a poem where Levis’ father breaks a man’s hand and then goes home to listen to classical music. Levis ties humor into this poem with the line:
“I never understood how anyone could risk his life,
Then listen to Vivaldi.”
This reminds me of what Austin tends to do in his poems, so it was interesting to get a closer look on what exactly influences some of the aspects of them by learning more about Larry Levis.