Breaking Down Familiar
Poetry by Donald Levering
Main Street Rag Publishing, May 2022
Donald Leverings’s 16th book of poetry, Breaking Down the Familiar, grapples with a host of harrowing assaults to the narrator and his family: illness and accidents, addiction and madness, estrangement and divorce. Yet as mind and body falter, as faith is undermined and relationships sunder, as aging parents can neither be changed or saved and former athletes tally their infirmities, previously obscured strength emerge – as a ruined golfer in one poem says, “Your character is revealed / in the handicap you claim.” Finally, the poems re-enact the family’s reconstitution, the way in the eponymous poem, shattered bottle pieces are refashioned into artisan’s sea glass crafts. A former NEA Fellow, Donald Levering won the Tor House Robinson Jeffers Award, selected by Eavan Boland; the Carve Poetry Prize, judged by Carmen Giménez Smith; and the Literal Latté Poetry Award. Levering’s work has also been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac podcast.