David Levi Strauss was born in Junction City, Kansas in 1953, and grew up just down the road in Chapman, where his grandfather was a blacksmith and his father a mechanic. His mother, Viola Lee, worked as a secretary for the local school district. After writing and distributing a political tract critical of the school’s administration, he was denied a high school diploma, but enrolled in Kansas State University anyway, where he spent two years studying political science and philosophy before being asked to leave after organizing a march on the ROTC building to protest the Cambodian bombings and a student strike to protest the firing of a radical history professor. At age 19, he traveled around the world on a floating university, collecting children’s art in Japan, China, Indonesia, India, and Africa, and studying the radical pedagogy of Paulo Freire. After returning to the US, he studied philosophy and photography at Goddard College in Vermont, and at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Manoeuvres (San Francisco: Aleph Press/Eidolon Editions, 1980); poems in 49 + 1: Nouveaux Poétes Américains, edited by Emmanuel Hocquard and Claude Royet-Journoud (Paris: Un bureau sur l’Atlantique and Editions Royaumont, 1991)
╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
Du lebst zu naha ans Wasser
she said—“You live too close to the water,”
And she was right, again,
from the Smoky Hill to the Snake to the Hudson,
the water comes unbidden and fierce,
for common sadness, Twin Towers,
and the unforgiving.
In the last weeks, the skin
of her face stretched taut
against her skull, and
all superfluity was burned away.
It was her true face,
never before seen
in this world,
as the Sun.
Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, II, no. 2 (April 2005). Copyright ©2005 by David Levi Strauss.