by Andrew Levitt
Greensboro, NC: CEINW, 2017
Written between 1999 and 2008, the poems in Heron Mornings are a poetic diary of one man’s moments of communion with the natural world while he walked his dog Sasha in the hour before dawn. A number of influences inspired Levitt to initiate this practice. The first came from Sasha who woke him from his sleep and tutored him in opening his senses and attending to everything they encountered. Another influence Levitt refers to as his “return to words.” A professional mime for over thirty years, his performances depended on gesture and silence. But after many years of performing, he began to explore using words in his performances. In the exploration, he recovered the sense that words were a powerful medium of the soul, which was a far cry from his earlier disenchantment with how language devalued meaning and was used instead to broker power, obfuscate and deceive. In Heron Mornings, he is “returning to words”: “As for the language and form my record keeping has taken, I should say that I stumbled into poetry because poetry is that means of language best suited to the intensification of awareness I experienced. My aim was to find a means of capturing as precisely as I could my sense of being present to a presence in the natural world. I wanted language to capture my sense of immanence in each day. Sometimes that meant holding myself to recording exactly what my senses informed me of. And sometimes description would not serve. In moments of communion, the locus for precision was the space between myself and nature. Poetic rhythms, poetic forms, figures of speech, and imagery served my effort to find precise language for communion.” The initiation of this practice was a pivotal moment in the way Andrew Levitt has lived his life between silence and words. Heron Mornings gives testimony to his efforts of many years to listen for the harmonies of being in the ordinary days of his life.
Andrew Levitt holds a BA in English from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of All the Scattered Leaves of the Universe: Journey and Vision in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Work of Thomas Berry (2015). Heron Mornings is his first book of poetry. Currently, he works as a medical clown in Pediatrics at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC, and serves on the Educator Council of The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World.