University of Hell, 2021



Barnes & Noble
University of Hell Press

“Shawn Levy has written into the mouth of death with a mission: to reclaim joy, ecstasy, passion, the matter of art. This book is a wailing song, with side eye when and where you need it. These poems are a resuscitation of art and heart.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge, The Book of Joan, and The Chronology of Water

“Blows past its premise (emanations of one year’s New York Times obituaries) into a staggering symphony of lives, with parallels to Michael Lesy’s Wisconsin Death Trip and Jim Carroll’s ‘People Who Died,’ but all the more shocking for having been shared. Some code seems to be embedded in these losses, and in their reportorial summaries, which only Shawn Levy in his brilliantly angular perspective could have decoded.” —Ed Skoog, author of Run the Red Lights and Travelers Leaving for the City 

“An ode to readership—to the transportive experience made available to a human who picks up a newspaper with an open heart and a broad imagination, ready to treasure the stories of other humans. I’m grateful to Shawn Levy for reminding me what a generous, evocative exchange the newspaper obituary can be.” —Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses 

“Full of feisty and tender elegies, a sweeping ekphrasis of the American twentieth century. With his gimlet eye and big heart, Levy takes us on a backstage tour of our own popular culture. As much as these poems eulogize and lionize, they also revise and scrutinize, each with a kind of unboxing at the end. The effect is original, and the book exudes that rarest of all qualities in poetry: fun.” —Dobby Gibson, author of Little Glass Planet

“In this brilliant collection, Levy unfolds portraits within portraits, giving us moving and insightful glimpses of lives embedded in their own cultures and time. His poetry is a striking montage of how we remember, retain, and love through our public mourning.” —Juan Delgado, author of Vital Signs and winner of American Book Award