Eve is All of Us: A Review of Joanne Leva's Eve Would Know

Over the course of history, the original Eve has seen many incarnations, popular revivals and much folklore and myth owe more than a nod to her influence, but none as inventive and contemporary as what poet Joanne Leva achieves in her full-length collection, Eve Would Know (Aldrich Press, 2017).

Leva pulls no punches with her portrayal of the modern Eve, who contains multitudes, who, in effect, is all of us. The collection starts off in such an emblematic way---Adam, the perfect foil for our Eve, feeling the large bulge through his pants pocket “becomes confined by fear.” Leva is so adept at the male/female and mind/body nuances, both one can easily imagine are rooted in the Pre-diluvian as well as the razor-sharp and complex present.

Eve has “strange fate” that she accepts which includes being yoked to Adam who she deems “perfect.” Sounds like a love story, but Leva turns that expectation on its head as we follow Adam and Even in the vagaries of the quotidian, yearning for love, sex and the elusive self-actualization, where things are not always what they seem: “the ugly truth/an aging body.” In fact, the aging of the body is central as the cravings of the two of them are nearly maniacally ardent, though maintain the body and soul is a full-time job:

Eve has let herself go.

Her figure has changed.

Her hair is grayed.

Adam’s self-image is threatened.

He is determined to stay young.

Moments of almost aching poignancy are punctuated with the realities of the human condition. In “Adam Cracks the Whip”:

His pockets are stuffed

with bananas

He eats, smokes and suffers

from hemorrhoids

while Eve munches on

on turnips and dry biscuits

going about her work.

She cleans house to music

and wiggles in between

sofa cushions

until she is exalted.

Eve expresses particular age-old feelings of every Eve perhaps since the beginning of time:

The shape of you

grows round and square

while mine diminishes

in your shadow.

Your hairy legs

Remind me

it’s time to explain

the deep significance

of sharp edged things.

While some poems have tongue firmly planted in cheek and others are as ardent as two star-crossed lovers, but it must be said that the utter triumph of this collection is the marriage of both. The universality of romantic relationships and the collision of the aforementioned self-actualization find their home here and is as often as stark as coffee breath in the morning. Leva, a long time and assiduous advocate of poets and both founder and Executive Director of the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Poet Laureate Program (MCPL), finally gets her day with this fine, first collection. It is inventive, masterful and brave, just like Eve, herself:

She looks for answers,

stacks a deck

of tarot cards

and whirls to face her future.

You can purchase Eve Would Know here.

Product Information:

Eve Would Know

By Joanne Leva

Kelsay Books, 2017

127 pages