In Kathryn Levy’s first collection of poems, Losing the Moon, she immerses herself in the dark side of the dreamscape. Her poetry rings with sorrow; phantoms visit her in the night. She writes of a place where it is always winter, never warm enough. Loss and isolation make her even colder. Levy knows the world of the dream. Here, dead parents, past lovers, and children that never were move gently in and out of her sight, sometimes undulating like shadows. They revive feelings of pain, bright as blood. These figures from the past haunt the present, and she relives that past each night in darkness. “That was yesterday. Put it away / as something strange. Then take it out / in familiar clothes. The past / has always been here. It’s us.” Most haunting of all is the underlying sense of isolation. The narrator is trapped in a cage of her past and cannot make true contact with those she wishes to love. Behind even the semblance of safety and warmth lie pain and loneliness; home is a fortress bent on the impossible task of protecting the narrator from pain. “I’ve shut / my blinds / the way as child / shuts her eyes / —tight— / to keep out wind, / the dark that stings.”
Levy’s poetry feels like a weight on the chest—nearly suffocating in its intensity, in its unyielding darkness. But each image is finely honed, each sentiment crafted. Nothing here is extraneous; her language has the sharp edge of a blade. These poems are bitter like the darkest chocolate. Savor them in small doses; a surfeit of them carries the possibility of pulling you into the narrator’s madness. Kathryn Levy has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has received writing fellowships from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, the Blue Mountain Center, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Cummington Community for the Arts. She was the founding director of two poetry-in-the-schools projects, and she has taught poetry to hundreds of public school students throughout New York City. She divides her time between Sag Harbor and New York City.