The list of active poets not associated in some way with academia seems to be a relatively short one; a cursory look at the bios of many poets whose work you’ll see in high-end journals will show they are faculty members in creative writing or English departments at colleges and universities across the country. A poet with a day job as a clinical psychologist is, if not exactly a rare bird, at least an unusual specimen in contemporary PoBiz. But here is Julia B. Levine, author of four highly-regarded (three were award-winning) collections, and perhaps she considers her most important work to be helping people with their broken psyches or their problematic brains. The two missions are not really at odds, though: read “Heat Wave on the Children’s Unit,” (from Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, LSU Press, 2014) or “Abduction under the Hubble Telescope,” (from Practicing for Heaven, winner of the 1998 Anhinga Prize for Poetry) and it seems likely that in both her clinical and her poetic practices, she is moved by compassionate curiosity, a trait that could (and I believe should) be a hallmark of both vocations.
-- Annie Stenzel, poet of the week
Riding the rails.