Missouri-based poet Dana Levin embarked on her poetry career at a young age: She was first bitten by the poetry bug in second grade after a particular writing assignment.

“After watching films in the cafeteria, Mrs. Long asked us to write a paragraph about one of them. I was really excited about one featuring an astronaut chasing a monster all around the cosmos,” Levin said.

She decided she wanted to write a poem when she realized all the words she would use to describe the film—chase, space, race, place—all sounded the same.

“I am forever grateful to Mrs. Long for letting me write a poem instead of a paragraph,” Levin said.

After that first astronomical poem, Levin eventually went on to publish four collections of poetry, including 2016’s “Banana Palace,” as well as win numerous awards, including a 1999 National Endowment for the Arts grant and a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.

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