Transcript of Philipe Levine
PHILIP LEVINE Levine grew up in industrial Detroit. The familial, social, and economic world of 20th century Detroit is one of the major subjects of his life's 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 monumental testimony of mid-20th century American life. It can be best found in books such as "They Feed They Lion," the National Book Award-winning "What Work Is," "A Walk with Tom Jefferson," and in his "New Selected Poems." Growing up, Levine faced the anti-Semitism embodied by a local celebrity, the pro-Hitler radio priest Father Coughlin. In a review of Breath, Levine's most recent collection, Publishers Weekly wrote: "Levine writes gritty, fiercely unpretentious free verse about American manliness, physical labor, simple pleasures and profound grief, often set in working-class Detroit (where Levine grew up) or in central California (where he now resides), sometimes tinged with reference to his Jewish heritage or to the Spanish poets of rapt simplicity (Machado, Lorca) who remain his most visible influence." Levine has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize from Poetry, the Frank O'Hara Prize, and two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships. For two years he served as chair of the Literature Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, and he was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2000. He lives in New York City and Fresno, California, and teaches at New York University “A large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland” according to Edward Hirsch in the New York Times Book Review April, and the last of the plum blossoms Full transcript
scatters on the black grass
before dawn. The sycamore, the lime,
the struck pine inhale
the first pale hints of sky.
An iron day,
I think, yet it will come
dazzling, the light
rise from the belly of leaves and pour
burning from the cups
The mockingbird squawks
from his perch, fidgets,
and settles back. The snail, awake
for good, trembles from his shell
and sets sail for China. My hand dances
in the memory of a million vanished stars.
A man has every place to lay his head.
Philip Levine (b. January 10, 1928, Detroit, Michigan) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet. He taught for many years at California State University, Fresno. More recently he is the Distinguished Poet in Residence for the Creative Writing Program at New York University. thanks