Wide shot of a bookshelf

Lunar Eclipse

Helane Levine-Keating
Professor English, NYC

Lunar Eclipse by Helane Levine-Keating

What is the central theme of your book?

Lunar Eclipse is a collection of 28 poems that focus on the aftermath of divorce and the surprises that occur in finding renewal through nature and new love in later life. The complexities of how we relate through words and the impact of nature and setting on our lives also enters into these poems.

What inspired you to write this book?

Many of the poems included in Lunar Eclipse have been inspired by events in my personal life and places I’ve lived or visited.

Why is this book important in your field? What does it contribute to the current body of knowledge on its topic?

Since my field is Comparative Literature and Creative Writing and I have taught poetry throughout my professional life, Lunar Eclipse reflects my own voice as a poet. Hopefully, its importance lies in how readers relate to the poems and how the poems speak to them and move and inspire them. It is always difficult to judge one’s own art as opposed one’s own scholarship.

Tell me about a particularly special moment in writing this book.

When a poem I’m working on comes into focus and the language, voice, imagery, line breaks, and rhythm fall into place, it always feels quite special. There were a number of such moments when I was writing the poems that are collected in Lunar Eclipse, moments where I was very pleased when I was able to find the best words to end the poem and produce the desired edge and resonance. One poem, “You River,” came to me whole, in a rush, after working with Pace colleagues to create a team-taught Hudson River Experience course.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers will feel less alone and find some brightness

Is there anything else you would like to share about your book?

It was satisfying to be able to use one of my own photographs for the book’s cover and to be able to design the cover myself.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your book?

I am the co-editor, with Walter Levy, Pace professor emeritus, of three editions of Lives Through Literature: A Thematic Anthology. My poetry has appeared in various journals and anthologies.

Fun Facts

When did you join Dyson?

I joined Dyson in Fall 1983 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1988 and Full Professor in 1992. From 1989-1995 I served as Founding Director of Women’s Studies.

What motivates you as a teacher?

I love teaching Creative Writing Fiction and Poetry and strive to create a respectful writing workshop atmosphere where students can look forward to sharing their work, involving themselves in constructively critiquing their peers and receiving my feedback, and revising their work. I am always motivated by the work they produce in response. In my literature courses I am motivated when the syllabus I’ve constructed and the books I’ve chosen excite and open up new worlds for my students.

What do you do in your spare time; to relax/unwind?

My fine art photography is one way I unwind and enter a visual world rather than the word-driven world of literature and creative writing. I also play the piano and like to walk, hike, garden, and cook.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Ali Smith’s Autumn, with the possibility of teaching it this fall in Feminist Issues in Literature: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, as many of my students loved Smith’s novel How To Be Both, which I taught last semester in my 21st Century Novel course.