Philip Levine

Philip Levine

US Poet Laureate 2011-2012
Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet
National Book Award-winner

“One of our most resonant voices of social conviction and witness…” — David Baker

“[Levine] is one of those poets whose work is so emotionally intense, and yet so controlled, so concentrated, that the accumulative effect of reading a number of his related poems can be shattering.”— Joyce Carol Oates

“What gives Levine’s work its urgency is that impulse to commemorate, the need to restore to life people who were never, despite their deadening work, dead things themselves, and who deserve to be rescued from the longer death of being forgotten.” — New York Times

Philip Levine is the eighteenth United States Poet Laureate for 2011-2012. Upon his appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement, “Philip Levine is one of America’s great narrative poets. His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’….” — NYT article announcing Levine’s appointment to Poet Laureate

Levine “is a large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland” who, according to Edward Hirsch in the New York Times Book Review, should be considered “one of [America's]…quintessentially urban poets.” He was born in 1928 to Russian-Jewish immigrants, in Detroit, a city that inspired much of his writing. Author of 20 collections of poetry, his most recent is News Of The World (Knopf, 2009). The Simple Truth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995. What Work Is won the National Book Award in 1991. David Baker writes, “What Work Is may be one of the most important books of poetry of our time. Poem after poem confronts the terribly damaged conditions of American labor, whose circumstance has perhaps never been more wrecked.” Levine is known as the poet of the working class, and he remains dedicated to writing poetry “for people for whom there is no poetry.” Dwight Garner of The New York Times comments, “One of the joys of following Mr. Levine’s career has been watching how playful he can be, despite the moral seriousness of his unadorned and lightly accented verse”. — PBS Newshour—Art Beat blog

As well as having received two National Book Awards, Levine is also the recipient of the National Book Critics Award and the Ruth Lily prize. He divides his time between Brooklyn, NY, & Fresno, CA.

Writers Festival Appearances