Levine reading in 2006
|Born||January 10, 1928|
Detroit, Michigan, US
|Died||February 14, 2015 87) (aged|
Fresno, California, US
|Alma mater||Wayne State University University of Iowa|
|Notable awards||United States Poet Laureate|
Frances J. Artley
|Children||Mark, John, Teddy|
Philip Levine (January 10, 1928 – February 14, 2015) was an American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. He taught for more than thirty years in the English department of California State University, Fresno and held teaching positions at other universities as well. He served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2000 to 2006,and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2011–2012.
Philip Levine grew up in industrial Detroit, the second of three sons and the first of identical twins of Jewish immigrant parents. His father, Harry Levine, owned a used auto parts business,his mother, Esther Priscol (Pryszkulnik) Levine, was a bookseller. When Levine was five years old, his father died. While growing up, he faced the anti-Semitism embodied by Father Coughlin, the pro-Nazi radio priest. In high school, a teacher told him, “You write like an angel. Why don’t you think about becoming a writer?“ But he was already working at night in auto factories, though just 14. Detroit Central High School graduated him in 1946, and he went to college at Wayne University (now Wayne State University) in Detroit, where he began to write poetry, encouraged by his mother, to whom he dedicated the book of poems, The Mercy. Levine earned his A.B. in 1950 and went to work for Chevrolet and Cadillac in what he called "stupid jobs." The work, he later wrote, was “so heavy and monotonous that after an hour or two I was sure each night that I would never last the shift.”
He married his first wife, Patty Kanterman, in 1951. The marriage lasted until 1953.
In 1953, he attended the University of Iowa without registering,studying with, among others, poets Robert Lowell and John Berryman, the latter of whom Levine called his "one great mentor."
In 1954, he earned a mail-order masters degree with a thesis on John Keats' "Ode to Indolence,"and married actress Frances J. Artley.
He returned to the University of Iowa teaching technical writing, completing his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1957.The same year, he was awarded the Jones Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University. In 1958, he joined the English department at California State University, Fresno, where he taught until his retirement in 1992. He also taught at many other universities, among them New York University as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Tufts, Vanderbilt, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Levine and his wife had made their homes in Fresno and Brooklyn Heights.He died of pancreatic cancer on February 14, 2015, age 87.
The familial, social, and economic world of twentieth-century Detroit is one of the major subjects of Levine's life work.His portraits of working class Americans and his continuous examination of his Jewish immigrant inheritance (both based on real life and described through fictional characters) has left a testimony of mid-twentieth century American life.
Levine's working experience lent his poetry a profound skepticism with regard to conventional American ideals. In his first two books, On the Edge (1963) and Not This Pig (1968), the poetry dwells on those who suddenly become aware that they are trapped in some murderous processes not of their own making.In 1968, Levine signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse to make tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
In his first two books, Levine was somewhat traditional in form and relatively constrained in expression.Beginning with They Feed They Lion, typically Levine's poems are free-verse monologues tending toward trimeter or tetrameter. The music of Levine's poetry depends on tension between his line-breaks and his syntax. The title poem of Levine's book 1933 (1974) is an example of the cascade of clauses and phrases one finds in his poetry. Other collections include The Names of the Lost, A Walk with Tom Jefferson, New Selected Poems, and the National Book Award-winning What Work Is.
On November 29, 2007 a tribute was held in New York City in anticipation of Levine's eightieth birthday.Among those celebrating Levine's career by reading Levine's work were Yusef Komunyakaa, Galway Kinnell, E. L. Doctorow, Charles Wright, Jean Valentine and Sharon Olds. Levine read several new poems as well.
Near the end of his life, Levine, an avid jazz aficionado, collaborated with jazz saxophonist and composer Benjamin Boone on the melding of his poetry and narration with music. The resulting CD, “The Poetry of Jazz” (Origin Records 82754), was released posthumously on March 16, 2018. It contains fourteen of Levine's poems and performances by Levine and Boone as well as jazz greats Chris Potter, Greg Osby, and Tom Harrell .
|The future||2014||Levine, Philip (January 6, 2014). "The future". The New Yorker. 89 (43): 48–49.|
Richard Purdy Wilbur was an American poet and literary translator. One of the foremost poets of his generation, Wilbur's work, composed primarily in traditional forms, was marked by its wit, charm, and gentlemanly elegance. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987 and received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, in 1957 and 1989.
Howard Nemerov was an American poet. He was twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, from 1963 to 1964 and again from 1988 to 1990. For The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977), he won the National Book Award for Poetry, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Bollingen Prize.
Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, Dante Alighieri's Inferno and The Separate Notebooks by Czesław Miłosz. He teaches at Boston University.
Rita Frances Dove is an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American to have been appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 from the previous "consultant in poetry" position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as "special consultant in poetry" for the Library of Congress's bicentennial year from 1999 to 2000. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987, and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.
Mark Strand was a Canadian-born American poet, essayist and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990 and received the Wallace Stevens Award in 2004. Strand was a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University from 2005 until his death in 2014.
Mona Jane Van Duyn was an American poet. She was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1992.
William Stanley Merwin was an American poet who wrote more than fifty books of poetry and prose, and produced many works in translation. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin's unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration. In the 1980s and 1990s, his writing influence derived from an interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in a rural part of Maui, Hawaii, he wrote prolifically and was dedicated to the restoration of the island's rainforests.
Galway Mills Kinnell was an American poet. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 1982 collection, Selected Poems and split the National Book Award for Poetry with Charles Wright. From 1989 to 1993 he was poet laureate for the state of Vermont.
Donald Justice was an American poet and teacher of writing. In summing up Justice's career David Orr wrote, "In most ways, Justice was no different from any number of solid, quiet older writers devoted to traditional short poems. But he was different in one important sense: sometimes his poems weren't just good; they were great. They were great in the way that Elizabeth Bishop's poems were great, or Thom Gunn's or Philip Larkin's. They were great in the way that tells us what poetry used to be, and is, and will be."
Charles Simic is a Serbian American poet and former co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007.
Kevin Lowell Young is an American poet and teacher of poetry. Author of 11 books and editor of eight others, Young has been a winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a finalist for the National Book Award for his collection Jelly Roll: A Blues. Young has served as Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University and curator of Emory's Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, as well as Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. In March 2017, Young became poetry editor of The New Yorker.
William Morris Meredith Jr. was an American poet and educator. He was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1978 to 1980.
Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist. Herrera was the 21st United States Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.
Lawson Fusao Inada is a Japanese American poet. He was the fifth poet laureate of the state of Oregon.
Peter Paul Everwine was an American poet.
William Daryl Hine was a Canadian poet and translator. A MacArthur Fellow for the class of 1986, Hine was the editor of Poetry from 1968 to 1978. He graduated from McGill University in 1958 and then studied in Europe, as a Canada Council scholar. He earned a PhD. in comparative literature at the University of Chicago (UC) in 1967. During his career, Hine taught at UC, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University.
Kate Daniels is an American poet.
Andrés Montoya was a Chicano poet.
William Pitt Root is an American poet.
What Work Is is a collection of poetry by Philip Levine. The collection has many themes that are representative of Levine's writing including physical labor, class identity, family relationships and personal loss. Its primary focus on work and the working class led to it being studied with emphasis on Marxist literary criticism. The focus on work is expressed in thematically different ways throughout the collection. Furthermore, much of the collection was shaped by concerns for blue collar workers as well as nationwide political events.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Philip Levine .|