On Tuesday, February 1st, I attended the Dana Levin reading. Her friendliness and humor drawled in the audience as she read from her book of poems that focused on the subject of death. Why death we asked. After the tragic loss of both her parents and sister, over the course of only a few years, she decided to write in hope of understanding the reality of death. Throughout Dana’s writing, she touches on the raw states of being that all individuals may face, and responds to violence and situations that seems to defy language through forms of poetry.
In William Shakespeare’s, My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, he expresses to the reader that there are so many things in life that are better than she is, yet he can’t help but be in love with her. Similar to Dana’s poems about death, this particular sonnet sounds and appears harsh. While the phrases and expressions are grim, there is a sentimental meaning that lies between the lines. William Shakespeare expresses his mistress as a dull, bad breathed, awful sounding women, but the reality behind her physical description is the beautiful woman inside that he can’t help but be in love with. He is telling the audience; yes she is far from beautiful, but his love for her is boundless. Dana knows that the topic of death is rare, and the voicing is raw, but it is as real as the love she had for her father, mother, and sister.
In John Milton’s, When I consider how my light is spent, he reflects on his life before he lost his sight and what his life is like in the present. The line: “Lodged with me useless, through my soul more bent, To serve therewith my Maker, and prevent” expresses his hope to change what has happened, but he is faced with the reality that it is impossible to be reversed. Writing this poem gave Milton the opportunity to cope and accept his life with this disability, just like Dana’s poems were a way of putting it all on paper and accepting the reality of death. Everyone needs some form of closure after a drastic event such as losing your eyesight or unexpectedly having not one, but three family members removed from your life; writing poetry was Milton and Levin’s way of finding the closure they needed to move forward. Although they wish to change what has happened, they can’t. Dana Levin suffered severe depression and was even encouraged to take medication. Although some individuals may have turned to drugs as a way to cope, she knew that death happens whether we like it or not. Her poems weren’t only a way of healing herself, but also helping others who could relate to the same hopelessness that she had felt.
Chapter 33 from the novel, “Eat, Pray, Love,” follows the main character as she searches for the one word that describes her. As she goes through various words in her head, some that come to mind are: DEPRESSION, ACHIEVE, SEEK, HIDE and DEVOTION. Each word describes her at some point in her life, but she can’t seem to pick one that fully conveys her at every moment. The point being is that no one is ever the same throughout their entire life. We all change in some way or another whether it is triggered by a tragic event, personal preference, or a desire to grow. After Dana’s mother, father, and sister passed away, she experience DEPRESSION. Although she wanted to HIDE from the reality of death, she knew that she would have to SEEK acceptance in order to ACHIEVE happiness. Dana became one with her DEVOTION to poetry and now that she is healed; she is able to heal others that have gone through similar experiences. This event allowed me to see that there is always a deeper, more personal meaning than what is immediately perceived after reading any given piece of writing.