The Gazer Within collects the prose of one of America's favorite poets. Refreshingly candid, laugh-out-loud funny, and, at the same time, intimate, the pieces trace Larry Levis's early years growing up on his father's farm, his decision at sixteen to become a poet, and his undergraduate experience in the days of the Vietnam War. In addition to memoir, there are critical reviews, including his seminal essay on the poet Philip Levine, and reviews of poets as diverse as W. D. Snodgrass and Zbigniew Herbert.
David St. John's foreword speaks eloquently of Levis's enduring legacy: "Of the poets of his generation, Larry Levis spoke most powerfully of what it means to be a poet at this historical moment. With the same majesty he brought to his poetry, Larry Levis engaged his readers with the most subtle and disturbing questions of the self to be found in the prose--essays, reviews or interviews--of any contemporary American poet. Broadly international in his scope and deeply personal in his reflections, Levis addressed poetic concerns that are both immediate and timeless. For many of us who struggle with these issues, Larry Levis's prose on poetry stands as some of the most capacious to be found since Randell Jarrell's."
The late Larry Levis was the author of six volumes of poetry. He was Director of the Creative Writing Program, University of Utah; Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University; and also taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop.