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Harriet Levin

Harriet Levin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to first-generation Eastern European Jewish immigrants. She received her BA in English and Russian at Temple University and her MFA from the University of Iowa, where she also translated works for writers in the International Writing Program.

She is the author of three books of poetry: My Oceanography (CavanKerry Press, 2018), Girl in Cap and Gown (Mammoth Books, 2010), which was a National Poetry Series finalist, and The Christmas Show (Beacon Press, 1997), which was chosen by Eavan Boland for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. She is also coeditor of Creativity and Writing Pedagogy: Linking Creative Writers, Researchers and Teachers (Equinox Books, 2014).

Levin’s honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Catagnola Award, the Ellen La Forge Memorial Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts Discipline Award, and fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.

About her work, Molly Peacock writes, “Levin’s fearless willingness to tackle any subject combines with her subtle intelligence to produce a rare reading experience—the moving, psychologically sophisticated, and intriguing work of a poet with both guts and craft.”

She is married to Rick Millan and lives in Philadelphia where she teaches and directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University.



My Oceanography (CavanKerry Press, 2018)
Girl in Cap and Gown (Mammoth Books, 2010)
The Christmas Show (Beacon Press, 1997)


Creativity and Writing Pedagogy: Linking Creative Writers, Teachers and Researchers (Equinox Books, 2014)

Harriet Levin
Photo credit: Peter Lien

By This Poet


Axis Mundi

Where in the church of the mind,
the mind’s sawn down trees,

where hardwood’s stacked up,
quartered and milled where under the nave

the painting is placed,
in the left-hand side aisle,

the viewpoint from which one approaches the altar
do the putti recover us and give us wings?

The figures are over life size,
their heart beats thump through the church

in the direction of the brushstroke,
drift at the edge of fields left to the shape it takes.

Sometimes it’s rain the reach of rain. 
Sometimes it’s purer, less mixed. Jubilance.

I feel it running down the hill in the rain
running so as not to get wet but getting wet. 

Pause to tie my shoelace,
as if, tying it, I might actually pull together—finding it undone.

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