Rich Levy Goes Public

We can't tell you what Rich Levy is going to read this Saturday during his appearance at Public Poetry, a new reading series. That's because Levy, even at this late date, hasn't decided. "I tend to think about what I'm going to read the night before," he admits, slightly embarrassed by his procrastination.

Levy, who many people know as the director of Inprint, calls himself a surrealist personal poet. "I write a lot about my family and one day, I'm probably going to pay for that," he laughs. "I tend to focus on matters of family and relationships - sometimes I focus on political issues. Always for me, the issues have more validity in a poem if it comes from my own experience."

His love of jazz music has been a major influence in his writing. Sometimes in a very direct and obvious way, as with his poem Body and Soul, which was inspired by the 1939 Colman Hawkins recording of the song. The poem discusses a man and woman obviously attracted to each other; Levy compares them to Hawkins and the woman he loved.

and in spite of/the fact that elsewhere/armies were gathering/ and shops and books/were burning, Hawkins/had something so urgent/to say about his love/for a woman/... that he didn't/stop until/the last measure.

Like a jazz musician, Levy meanders a bit in his writing. "I don't necessarily think about going from point A to point B; it's more about grabbing an image, responding to a thought and finding where that leads me," he says. "I love the idea that there is a rhythm to a line and it should propel you through a poem."

Joining Levy at Public Poetry are poets Martha Serpas and Eva Skrande along with spoken word artist Deborah D.E.E.P. Wiggins. Mayor Anise Parker will be on hand for Saturday's reading, the first in the series.

Rich Levy reads at 2 p.m. at the Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney. For information, call 832-393-1313 or visit www.publicpoetryhouston.wordpress.com.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez