The Paris Review

Sappho Eating Her Heart Out: An Interview with Megan Levad

In Karl Shapiro’s best book, The Bourgeois Poet (1964), there’s an excellent poem to Randall Jarrell. The last line of that poem goes, “I rush to read you, whatever you print.” That’s how I feel about Megan Levad. That’s how I feel, and that’s what I do.

We became acquaintances years ago in Ann Arbor. She described to me the manuscript she was working on, and I remember thinking it sounded like not at all my kind of thing. I don’t remember the details, but I know it was gonna be a set of connected lyrics, orbiting some dramatic historical incident. Years later, her first full-length work came out, and it had nothing in common with the book she had described. It was a bunch of thoroughly droll and inventive prose pieces, wherein she set out to explain (reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly) various complex processes and ideas—without doing a dot of research. Instead, she just used her own reasoning powers and whatever information one picks up from TV and high school. The resulting humor was so much to my taste that I renewed with her on Facebook or whatever it was, and we’ve been poetry friends ever since. Now her second book is out, and it’s a complete surprise once again. But it is not merely different from the other book. It’s more like the poet has grown a new

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