Monks' Fruit by A.j. LevinMonks' Fruit by A.j. Levin

Monks' Fruit

byA.j. Levin

Paperback | March 23, 2004

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In his debut poetry collection, A.J. Levin presents a world in which the past overlays our modern existence, where classical allusions and philosophical observation are married to slapstick humour and carnival: Plato is a blues singer, Tantalus is a prospector in BC, and Descartes wanders around a Montreal amusement park. Monks' Fruit is above all a work of faith. Redemption lies in humour, imagination, curiosity and knowledge, though not in organized religion: Lazarus is reborn through his love, even extinct species have a second life when we remember them, but a parking lot is death itself.

Levin guides us not just through time but through place-a cramped Istanbul apartment, brown Mexican fields, noisy Toronto restaurants, and through England, Brazil, the American South. And everywhere is a "place filled with the poem / of human architecture," a land made real by the ability to love and remember.
A.J. Levin was born in Winnipeg during a Halloween blizzard. He has also lived in Montreal, Mexico, and Oxford, England. He took a BA at the University of Toronto and an M.Phil. at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and served as the Junior Dean at St. Cross College. He is the author of two chapbooks, and now lives in Toronto, where he works ...
Title:Monks' FruitFormat:PaperbackDimensions:88 pages, 8 × 5.5 × 0.25 inPublished:March 23, 2004Publisher:Nightwood EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889712026

ISBN - 13:9780889712027

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Read from the Book

CRABAPPLESAll yesterday morning the birdswere dancing around the Dominicanorchard, singing through crabapples,just on the far side of my place.You live on the close side, north-west, but never too close. Dancewith me in the fallen monks' fruit;alive like sparrows, and the blue-yellow birds the perverse Anglaiscall tits. We'll mock the Blackfriars,steal bougies at Notre Dame, andpelt the Virgin of Guadaluperight in the watermelon: hailMary with them, true rightto the touchdown line.But they hail Mary whenthere's no hope left.I want to share a pulpy past,a seven-year-old's crabapples.And the tangy, fibrousfuture with you.MONOPOLY COFFEE SHOPTen years since I saw your brown hairlast, at the interview I thought I flubbed.You were through the thick glass ofthe Monopoly Coffee Shop, greyMarch afternooning with your cousin.Of course it was I who recognized,long after last repeating your namewith my lower brain. Your jawfell a sycamore's mace: Him, did Ionce see a leer through his phone voice?We traded you look goods but you wereshorter, more righteous, leaving foran arid seminary to study the obscureancient art of not loving. Your breasts,once famous pears, had shrunk a decade.The anonymous note, yes, that was mine,N. helped me write the willow-tree poem.In Israel there will be few orchards.I did not ask for your overseas number,happy to see your tongue if only once.WORLD'S LARGEST CABBAGE MOTH COLLECTIONfor Vladimir NabokovOnce engrossed he picked a flower,was hound-and-foxed through the rest of childhood,trapped by bigger boys more white than his mute skin:netted by hands, pinned against brick schoolyard walls.Still when they danced the flick knife on his neckas if to prick and suck the life outthere was always somethingdesperate, fluttering in their eyes.They too needed him,and he held on to this,even in February when they packedfairy-tale white snow into his underpants.Now his vengeance is clinical, Roman:he pins to pleasant-smelling wood casesthe formalin-soaked specimensof the world's largest cabbage moth collection.LETHEAfter his futile CPRI thought nothing enough.Even hard to eat shivah vealsome neighbour kindly prepared.Instead: in my handsI find your gifts, a rain,it reminds me there wassome use, loving my brother.And reading inyour young paper eyes(never twice the samecolour) a cherry-tea memoryof a past boy,I want even moreto embrace you. Not to stopyou running but the Lethe.

Editorial Reviews

"Levin often stumbles into joy and his surprise delights both him and his reader."
-Bill Robertson, The StarPhoenix