d.a. levy was a pillar of Cleveland’s underground literature and art scene in the 1960s, centered around the University Circle/East Cleveland area. He is known for his intense, experimental works and passionate love/hate relationship with Cleveland. How to Remain Human includes a collection of his works ranging from short, romantic poems like “blues for life” (1960) to examples of concrete poetry, block prints, collages, and long form texts that chronicle his dissatisfaction with the state of society. In the reactionary climate of 1960‘s Cleveland, levy’s anti-establishment sentiments, disheveled appearance, unconventional lifestyle, and talk of drugs made him an easy target for the authorities. Repeated arrests and ongoing harassment left levy exhausted and paranoid. On November 24, 1968, he committed suicide at the age of 26.
One of d.a. levy’s most well-known works is “Suburban Monastery Death Poem” (1968), an epic, 13-page text from which the title of this exhibition is drawn:
& everyday i sit here
trying to become one of you
trying on those high school dreams
it doesnt work
you dont fit me
as a poet i try to learn
how to remain human
& there is no one to learn from
i am still too young to
be quiet & contemplative
d.a. levy (1942—1968, Cleveland, OH), was a poet, artist, and a pillar of the counter-cultural scene in Cleveland during the mid-1960s. The archives of d. a. levy’s work are held in the library collections of Cleveland State University and Kent State University, as well as numerous private collections. Several anthologies of his poetry have been published, including D.A. Levy and the Mimeograph Revolution (2007, Bottom Dog Press, OH); The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle: The Art and Poetry of d.a. levy (1999, Seven Stories Press, NY); and Zen Concrete & Etc. (1991, Ghost Pony Press, WI).