Steve Lewis’s If I Die Before You Wake starts with the terror of realizing one will die and ends in gratitude and the realization “it never stops until you’ve had enough.” Lewis’s poems are filled with love including child-love, wife-love, friend-love, life-love, and love of place. Lewis knows and uses the power of names: Pamlico Sound, Barrier Island, Rodanthe. These are atmospheric poems, where there are “willets skittering at the edge of the surf,” and “dunes are hurricane-flattened.” Lewis creates still lifes with empty beach chairs, surf boards, water jugs, and towels covered with sand. Life-like, these poems braid beauty, love and loss: the death of parents, friends, and students. Throughout the book, Lewis’s poems spark with with energetic sounds, meaning-drenched imagery, and Gertrude Stein-like repetitions that trance, pleasure, and give meaning— “all the way home all the way home and all the way home/ all the snowy way home for all that snowy way home until I am all/ the way home.”
— Susan Firer, The Transit of Venus
In If I Die Before You Wake: Meditations and Intimations On Mortality, Steve Lewis writes with compassion and searing honesty about the inevitable movement through life and to death. This a tender, bittersweet song to family, to all the people that we love and lose, to the people who will remain behind after we die. It follows a spiritual journey in search of meaning and is imbued with the hope that these poems will speak for him when he can no longer speak for himself. What a powerful moving book this is!
— Maria Gillan, What Blooms in Winter
In this thoughtful collection, Steve Lewis handles death—from the killing of a yard snake to the passing of close friends—with passion, grace, and, at times, humor. He puts it in perspective as a part of life, although he sometimes rails against that morbid reality, too. I came away from this meditation on death with a deeper appreciation for the tenuous gift of life.
— Lawrence Kessenich, Cinnamon Girl
Steven Lewis’s new book of poems, If I Die Before You Wake, offers a legacy of narratives, often lyrical, that celebrate moments in time, the landmarks of multiple generations. Here is the hard-won wisdom of mentor, father, grandfather, and husband that engages place, environment, and all-too-human relationships in equal measure with the human heart. But the specter of our universal ending resides in witness within most of these poems as “some common/sadness” always in the background, for the poet “a talisman of where he’s going”—indeed, where we’re all going. Yehuda Amichai once said “every poem is a lament,” and that couldn’t be a better blurb for this book. A thoughtful, moving, and warm read, indeed.
— Gregg Weatherby, Approaching Home



Oh, the complications of love, marriage, family! They’re all here in Take This. Steven Lewis handles his characters with gentleness and insight. If only all our faults could be judged by someone as compassionate as Steven Lewis.
— Ellen Bass, Like a Beggar
Steve Lewis knows that for many in the boomer generation, the Merry Pranksters’ bus is now a Winnebago. But he also knows that the thrill of the trip is undiminished, the route, quite possibly, just as insane, the destination equally unknown. Along the way, Lewis documents—with tenderness, insight, and outright hilarity—all those ways in which the volatile forces and unpredictable circumstances that forge family bonds may be stronger than the errant behaviors that sometimes fray them.
— Akiko Busch, The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science
Take This is a soulful gem of a novel, chronicling the last days of Robert Tevis, a psychotherapist with a big heart and no regrets. At turns funny and tender, author Steven Lewis takes readers on end-of-life road trip that leads them into territory that redefines love.”
— Sally Koslow, The Widow Waltz
It’s breathtaking and at moments heart stopping. I fell in love with this family, and I include in this family the young hippie kids. A lot of books claim to be about redemption but this book is that and more. It’s about running away from home and home finding you. At times I laughed and at other times I bawled, but at all times I I couldn’t put it down … In many ways I see Robert as Holden Caulfield grown up. This is the ultimate coming of age story.
— Patricia Dunn, Rebels By Accident
Hitch a wild, bumpy ride in a rickety Winnebago. Travel south through the Blue Ridge Mountains and New Orleans to Mexico City and down to Costa Rica on an odyssey full of love, loss and renewal, along with unforgettable characters, family secrets, and sardonic humor.

Dr. Robert Tevis, former psychiatrist, is a heartbreaking, comical hero, so tough to love, yet so lovable in his hesitant quest for atonement from the life he built and destroyed. Steve Lewis has written the modern American tragedy, brimming with loneliness, sadness, despair and betrayal, tears of joy, warmth, and laughter. Truly a road trip to heaven.
— Joanna FitzPatrick, The Drummer’s Widow
Take This by Steven Lewis starts out so simply with what seems to be a generic ruptured marriage, aging baby boomer-style. Ah, but that is deceptive because what unfolds is a singular, complicated beautifully-told tale, complete with pathos, surprises and, yes, laughter, too. It is the story of a man, his family, his well drawn women, his Winnebago and the particular way in which he runs away to find himself. By doing so, this character - and Lewis his creator - give something to every reader.
— Barbara Fischkin Muddy Cup: A Dominican Family Comes of Age in a New America
Take This—it’s impossible not to—is an intensely engaging and swiftly moving journey along the fault lines of the human heart. Why is it that psychotherapists so often seem to be the poster-children of their own profession, so rich in devastating vulnerabilities even as they attempt to heal others? Protagonist Robert Tevis is no exception, victim of his own cataclysmic frailties, searching for redemption in the last muddled act of his once conventional now radically disconnected life. The wanting heart has found a perceptive chronicler in Steven Lewis who has perfect pitch when it comes to parsing the debates and self-delusions that tear at families riven by deceit.
— Steven Schnur, The Shadow Children

The moment I met Robert Tevis I was all in for the ride —all-in for Tevis’ open-hearted quest for understanding and forgiveness for being all-too human. There’s just something about this guy that made me want to go along and cheer him on and see how it all turned out. And at the end of the ride, I felt somehow more accepting, even lighthearted about the human condition.
— Wendy Townsend, Blue Iguana




Steve Lewis saw the future a long time ago. Here's what he saw back when he was a teenager growing up on Long Island:

“It was always the same with them ... the plaid-on-plaid foursome — Murray, Mac, Herman and my old man sitting around the den swapping stories about their glory days on the Lower East Side. Oh, I got an earful, and a bellyful, about the fabulous music of the ‘20s and ‘30s, the profound lessons of the Great Depression, the greatest president that ever lived, the greatest generation ... and then, after the cigars came out and the Johnnie Walker made its first turn and their chins receding into jowls, I’d hear the old rant about the country going into the gutter ... the television, the rock ‘n’ roll, the protesters.”
— article by Jeremiah Horrigan, Times Herald-Record, February 29, 2008

Leave it to the author of Zen and the Art of Fatherhood to show us that the Tao is not to be found in Taos, that Ken Kesey’s bus “Further” was no RV, that “far out” is not necessarily far away, and that dropping out doesn’t mean dropping everything we love for some white-belted, pastel-colored gated community of eternal golf. Just when I thought that the sixites were really over—-‘Holy flashback, Batman, they’re back!
— Gary Allen, author of The Herbalist in the Kitchen

While I’m impressed to see that Steven Lewis can function as a sexagenarian father of seven after enduring the dreug abuse of the 1960s, I’m even more impressed at this impassioned and hilarious look at entering the dreaded senior years. His determination to hold on to a youthful spirit and keep the tides of geriatric-hood at bay brings to mind another 60 year old fighter, Winston Churchill, who vowed to ‘fight on the fields and in the streets ... fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
— Jacob Lewis, former managing editor, The New Yorker

Put on your best green party pants and Members Only jacket and climb aboard Lewis’s Deadhead sticker-sporting Cadillac SUV. Enjoy the long, strange trip alongside Sal Paradise, Lou Reed, and Bill Burroughs as Lewis brilliantly navigates us on a southbound route from Woodstock to Assisted Living. Boca Raton looming brightly like a bug zapper in the distance. Lewis’s funny, sharp, insightful observations will get you there just in time for the early-bird special. To paraphrase the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there. And while you’re at it, read this terrific book!
— Peter Steinfeld, screenwriter, Echo, Drowning Mona, Analyze That, Be Cool and the forthcoming Twenty-One