Writer, poet and gentleman-provocateur William Levy (1939-2019) was a thorn in the side of the establishment from the early 1960s to his death in 2019. Levy grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Temple University and taught in the literature department at Shippensburg State College, Pennsylvania, during which period he co-founded the poetry magazine Insect Trust Gazette. Levy developed into a spearhead of the European underground soon after he had moved to London in 1966. As chief-editor of the underground magazine International Times and the first European sex paper Suck, Levy was labelled a “thoroughly undesirable character” and a “dealer in pornography” in the UK in 1970, after which he was forced to settle in Amsterdam. There his subversive activities continued and included authoring The Virgin Sperm Dancer and Natural Jewboy, editing Certain Radio Speeches of Ezra Pound as well as writing a number of publications about Otto Mühl, doing radio works, organising the transgressive Wet Dream festivals and publishing poetry and prose for various presses large and small. Levy lived with literary translator Susan Janssen in Amsterdam until his death at the age of 80.
In a joint effort Moloko Plus and Sea Urchin have published a chapbook of three incisive poems by William Levy, written in the 1970s and 1980s. Together A Call for Chaos (1977), Europe in Flames (1978) and Crippled Warlords (c. 1983) form a powerful antidote for these chaotic, inflammatory and crippling times. With some of Claude Paradin’s 16th-century emblems as visual ingredients and Anneke Auer as a master designer, Moloko and Sea Urchin have managed to produce a hip flask filled with Levy’s spirit to help us put a world in turmoil into perspective. Down the hatch!