Apr 18, 2024 

7pm (doors), 7:30pm (performance)

Louise Landes Levi: Devotional Poems by Mira Bai


Louise Landes Levi returns to Blank Forms for an evening of reading and performance centered around the work of the 16th century Indian mystic Mira Bai, an icon of the bhakti movement and expressive freedom in India. Following a deeply felt connection with the poet-saint, Levi began to translate her work in the 1970s upon her arrival to India, resulting in the collection Sweet on My Lips (1997), initially released by Cool Grove Press with a foreword by La Monte Young. In tribute to Mira Bai and her teacher and friend Marian Zazeela (1940–2024), Levi will read and sing selected poems and bhajans, and perform on sarangi. 

Per Levi, this program aims to serve as an “introduction to the spiritual harmonic of Mira’s poetics, and to her courage in resisting authority and kingdom in in favor of love's visionary reality.”

Louise Landes Levi is a poet, translator, musician, and performer whose travels have charted an elaborate constellation of mystic and cosmic pathways. A founding member of Daniel Moore’s Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, she participated—from 1967 to 1969, alongside Terry Riley and Angus Maclise—in multidisciplinary drama inspired by Artaud’s research with the Tarahumara, the Balinese Gamelan, Tibetan monastic ritual, and Indian dance. Following studies at Mills College with sarangi master Pandit Ram Narayan, Levi traveled alone from Paris through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to reach northern India for research into its musical and poetic tradition. There, she studied with Sri Annapurna Devi and Ustad Abdul Majid Khan, later becoming Ali Ak Bar Khan’s pupil at the Basel Conservatory of Music and in California. Completing her journey in her birthplace of New York, Levi studied with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, monitoring their Dream House into the 21st century. Levi has translated the work of Henri Michaux and is responsible for the first English translation of Rene Daumal’s Rasa, or, Knowledge of the Self: Essays on Indian Aesthetics (New Directions, 1982). She has published over a dozen books of her own poetry, most recently Behind the Buddha’s Mask (Counter Culture Chronicles) and the forthcoming Where I Stand in Angel (Cool Grove Press).