Levine, Philip (Vol. 118)
Philip Levine 1928–
The following entry presents an overview of Levine's career through 1997. For further information on his life and works, see CLC, Volumes 2, 4, 5, 9, 14, and 33.
Philip Levine has published poetry collections regularly since On the Edge was published in 1961. One of the most respected contemporary American poets, he has received numerous grants and prizes and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for The Simple Truth (1994) in 1995. His primary poetic device is that of narration. Employing the idioms and cadences of normal speech, Levine seeks to write about the ordinary people and events of everyday life. Often called a working-class poet, he writes with particular intensity of the socially and economically deprived, and champions those who have little voice in the social hierarchy. One of the most dominant features of his poetry is the pervasive feeling of human dignity and justice. Though a keen and often bitter observer of class and economic wrongs and inequities, his working-class subjects are generally brave, spirited, and willful. Suffused with the dream of freedom, they do not quit. Richard Hugo has observed that Levine's themes revolve around what is most fundamental to humanity and that his poetry heightens compassion and understanding in readers.
Biographical InformationLevine was born in Detroit, Michigan, in January, 1928, the child of Russian-Jewish emigrants. His father died when he was young, and Levine was reared in an impoverished household. He attended Wayne State University from which he graduated with a B.A. and an M.A., in 1950 and in 1954 respectively. During the early 1950s Levine also worked at a number of factory jobs, an experience that strengthened his interest in working-class issues. Many of these issues figure prominently in his poetry. In 1954 he married Frances Artley, a marriage that produced three sons, Mark, John, and Theodore. Having refused to serve in the Korean War, Levine attended the University of Iowa where John Berryman and Robert Lowell were among his teachers. Levine graduated with a M.F.A. in 1957. He then spent time at Stanford University on a fellowship where he came into contact with Yvor Winters. In 1958 Levine became a professor at California State University, Fresno. He has also taught and lectured at numerous universities both at home and abroad. He has lived for extended periods in Spain, a country that has influenced some of his political and social beliefs as well as provided themes for a number of poems. In particular, he has identified very strongly with the antifascist and anarchist factions in the Spanish Civil War. Levine has received grants from such agencies as the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Among the honors he has received are the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award for Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize.
The major themes of Levine's poems, from his first collection On the Edge through his subsequent volumes, have remained largely unchanged. Much of his poetry reveals his frustration and anger with the manifold problems of contemporary society. Themes of defiance, indignation, and anger are especially frequent in such early collections as Not This Pig (1968) and They Feed They Lion (1972). He is particularly concerned with social, political, and ethnic topics. Also called an "urban" poet, Levine sets many of his poems in the working-class environment of such cities as Detroit and Fresno, and he writes feelingly of the problems and abuses of American society and of the strong spirit of American urban dwellers. His subjects are invariably ordinary working folk. He writes, in the words of David St. John, "of the universal struggle of individuals ignored and unheard by their societies." Levine identifies with those in dead-end jobs and was influenced by the menial, mainly industrial jobs at which he worked during the early fifties in Detroit. Richard Chess sees Levine's sympathy for the unsung workers and the victims of a materialistic and commercial world as stemming in part from experiences growing up as a Jew in Detroit. However, though there are clearly many autobiographical elements in Levine's poetry, it is also important to recognize that he enjoys a consummate ability to employ, as Carol Frost puts it, "artistic reality." Levine is praised for his strength at imagining and empathizing "with invented characters to the point that readers assume they are acquaintances or relatives." Yet much of his work is realistic, and his poems are liberally sprinkled with dates, times, people's and places' names. While this is natural in poems dealing with such specific historical topics as Hiroshima, the Holocaust and the Spanish Civil War, he is also careful to supply many of his other poems with realistic detail. The Spanish people, history, and countryside are also frequent themes in his poetry. Particularly prominent is his strong regard for the anti-Franco faction in the Spanish Civil War, which reflects his resolute leftist leanings. For example, the 1930s Spanish anarchist movement is well treated in his 1976 collection The Names of the Lost. Levine's later collections of poetry continue to chronicle the lives of ordinary working class citizens, and to champion the cause of the underprivileged and downtrodden.
Levine is a prolific writer who has published regularly since 1961. The quality of this large oeuvre has been deemed somewhat inconsistent. Some have seen his distinctly proletarian image as responsible for producing calculated, studied poetry. Nevertheless, critical assessment of his poetry over the decades has been overwhelmingly positive. In 1977 Richard Hugo asserted that Levine "is deservedly destined to be one of the most celebrated poets of the time," and many critics agree that Levine has emerged as one of America's preeminent poets. Fred Marchant wrote that Levine has produced "a rich and important body of work." David St. John considered that Levine's early work "remains some of the most highly-crafted and imaginatively powerful poetry of the time." Critics have noted a mellowing of Levine's anger in his later poems. Though remaining a keen chronicler of the wrongs inflicted on society's marginalized, his poetry becomes more tender and optimistic. While rage and sadness are still evident, there is also hope and celebration. Edward Hirsch has observed, "What starts as anger slowly deepens into grief and finally rises into joy." A much greater acceptance of what cannot be changed is evidenced in Levine's later poems. Hirsch has compared Levine's poetry to that of William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, and Theodore Roethke.
On the Edge (poems) 1961
Silent in America: Vivas for Those Who Failed (poems) 1965
Not This Pig (poems) 1968
5 Detroits (poems) 1970
Thistles (poems) 1970
Pili's Wall (poems) 1971
Red Dust (poems) 1971
They Feed They Lion (poems) 1972
1933 (poems) 1974
The Names of the Lost (poems) 1976
On the Edge & Over (poems) 1976
Ashes: Poems New and Old (poems) 1979
Don't Ask (collection of interviews with Levine) 1979
7 Years from Somewhere (poems) 1979
One for the Rose (poems) 1981
Selected Poems(poems) 1984
Sweet Will (poems) 1985
A Walk with Tom Jefferson (poems) 1988
New Selected Poems (poems) 1991
What Work Is (poems) 1991
The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography (essays) 1994
The Simple Truth (poems) 1994
Unselected Poems (poems) 1997
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SOURCE: "Philip Levine: Naming the Lost," in American Poetry Review, May-June, 1977, pp. 27-8.
[In the following review, Hugo lauds Levine's poetry collection, The Names of the Lost, stressing in particular the poems' emotional depth.]
Philip Levine knows a few things so well that he cannot forget them when he writes a poem, no matter what compositional problems might arise. He seldom tells us anything we don't already know but what he tells us is basic to the maintenance of our humanity, and fundamental to perpetuating our capacity for compassion. If I were dictator of the world long enough to pass a few laws, two of those laws would be: (1) at least once a year, everyone must view the films taken at Hiroshima immediately after the bombing; (2) at least once every six months, everyone must read a book of Philip Levine's poems aloud. That wouldn't necessarily make us better people, but it might make us hope we won't get any worse, and want to be the best we can be….
Here are a few things Levine knows well: to the heart, in time relationships transcend values ("On the Birth of Good and Evil During the Long Winter of '28." Levine's world is at least as old as religion. The professional is outlawed. It is the amateur who discovers "7000 miles from home" that she who "bruised his wakings" can, on this cold day after her death, be forgiven for the wool cap she knitted long ago,...
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SOURCE: A review of One for the Rose, in Hudson Review, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, Summer, 1982, pp. 331-33.
[In the following excerpt, Grosholz discusses Levine's focus on and praise of the ordinary.]
… Philip Levine's poems in One for the Rose often begin in the midst of the ordinary: "This is an ordinary gray Friday after work / and before dark in a city of the known world." Not just anything, however, can count as ordinary, for it is an honorific term which Levine uses to bless things. Bus stations in Ohio are one of his paradigms, and so are small shops, bars and hotels in midwestern cities crossed off with rows of small, shoddy trees and polluted rivers. His people are working people, his times of day the gray mornings before we go to work and the gray dusk we come back home in. The ordinary is what social and literary convention passes over as transient and meaningless; Levine criticizes these norms through a poetic act of redemption which remembers certain lost places and people, exhibits their significance, calls them by name.
His strategy of redemption is to move back and away from his specific ordinary, viewing it from a great height as someone lifting off in an airplane would, or from the distanced perspective of memory. Thus "Salt" begins with a woman weeping alone in an airport late at night, between a porter mopping the floor and an old cleaning lady emptying the...
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SOURCE: "Working the Night Shift," in New York Times Book Review, September 12, 1982, Sec. 7, p. 42.
[In the following review, Tillinghast applauds the poetry in One for the Rose for its readability and declares that "Belief" is one of the age's outstanding poems.]
"A good poet," according to Randall Jarrell, "is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times." Among the poems in One for the Rose, the latest of Philip Levine's 10 books of poetry, the lightning strike is unmistakable in "Belief." This poem asserts by denying—using the recurring motif, "No one believes," to capture the ambivalent attitude we take toward things we somehow believe while "knowing" they cannot be true. While insisting upon denial, the poem creates a detailed, compelling vision:
No one believes that to die
is beautiful, that after the hard pain
of the last unsaid word I am swept
in a calm out from shore
and hang in the silence of millions
for the first time among all my family.
If no other single poem in the book quite matches the achievement of "Belief"—one of the outstanding poems of our time—there is much to like in One for the Rose. Philip Levine's poems...
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SOURCE: "Cipriano Mera and the Lion: A Reading of Philip Levine," in Imagine, Vol. 1, No. 2, Winter, 1984, pp. 148-54.
[In the following essay, Marchant discusses the spirit of anarchism in Levine's poetry.]
Not many people in the United States would call themselves anarchists, but the poet Philip Levine does. In so doing he does not mean to invoke the image of a terrorist, a bomb in hand. Instead, he wants to acknowledge his passionate opposition to any soul-destroying forces in our social relations. His anarchism means that he does not believe in "the validity of governments, laws, charters" because they "hide us from our essential oneness." Levine has also said that his anarchism is "an extraordinarily generous, bountiful way to look at the universe," and that it has to do with "the end of ownership, the end of competitiveness, the end of a great deal of things that are ugly." And while one can debate the practicality of these ideas, it is clear that they have been enormously valuable to Philip Levine's poetry. In eleven books over the past twenty years he has made a rich and important body of work, all rooted in the generous, radical faith that human beings are essentially one.
One early benefit of this faith was an intuitive sympathy with the victims of a predatory, commercial society. Take, for example, "Animals Are Passing from Our Lives," in Not This Pig (1968). The...
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SOURCE: "Where the Angels Come Toward Us: The Poetry of Philip Levine," in Antioch Review, Vol. 44, No. 2, Spring, 1986, pp. 176-91.
[In the following essay, St. John considers Levine's career and asserts that his poetry "has become both the pulse and conscience of American poetry."]
The publication of Philip Levine's most recent collection of poetry, Sweet Will, following by only a year his superbly edited Selected Poems, presents an excellent opportunity to consider the twenty years of work these two volumes represent.
Throughout his career, Philip Levine has looked for an American voice, a voice that could stand comfortably in the tradition of Whitman and William Carlos Williams. Levine's primary impulse is narrative, and his poems are often narratives of human struggle—of the particularly American struggle of the immigrant, and of the universal struggle of individuals ignored and unheard by their societies. Levine's poetry gives voice to these "voiceless" men and women who he feels have been too rarely recognized and honored in our literature.
Philip Levine's poetry, known for being urban and "angry," is also filled with great naturalistic beauty and great tenderness. His poems present a poetic voice that is both as colloquial and unliterary as daily speech and as American as jazz. Levine has always desired a relatively "invisible" and unadorned...
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SOURCE: A review of A Walk with Tom Jefferson, in Boston Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, June, 1988, pp. 28-9.
[In the following review, Marchant considers Levine's humanistic faith and the nature of spirituality in his poetry.]
In a dozen books over the last twenty-five years, one of Philip Levine's most significant achievements has been to extend the province of the lyric to include the world of the blue-collar laborer. In Levine's poetry the smell of garlicky lunchboxes and greasy machinery have always had a place. There has also been a place for the description of mind-numbing work, and most important of all, his poetry has given voice to the angers that so easily well up after such labor has taken its toll. Levine was born in Detroit in 1928 and came of age working in a number of automotive factories there. He has been a full-lime poet for many years now, but his poetry still holds an imaginative landscape centered on this working-class experience. As with Robert Frost's relation to his Derry farm, Philip Levine's imagination has never totally abandoned his youthful workplace, and it has in many ways become Levine's root metaphor for life in our time and place.
One of the most important and revealing blue-collar incidents in Levine's new book, A Walk with Tom Jefferson, comes toward the end of the long poem from which the book takes its title. The poem concludes with a...
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SOURCE: "Naming the Lost: The Poetry of Philip Levine," in Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, Spring, 1989, pp. 258-66.
[In the following essay, Hirsch considers the evolution of Levine's poetry and its gradual change in themes and attitudes. He declares it begins in rage, grows into elegy, and culminates in celebration. He stresses Levine's growing belief in human acceptance and possibility.]
I force myself
who I am, what I am, and
why I am here.
Silent in America"
In his seminal postmodern meditation, "Thinking Against Oneself," the philosopher E. M. Cioran argues that "We measure an individual's value by the sum of his disagreements with things, by his incapacity to be indifferent, by his refusal as a subject to tend toward the object." Philip Levine's poetry is characterized by just such a profound disagreement with things as they are, by an incapacity for indifference and a rage against objectification. Throughout his work his first and most powerful commitment has been to the failed and lost, the marginal, the unloved, the unwanted. His primary impulse has been to memorialize the details and remember the exploitations. The dedicatory seventh section of his poem, "Silent in America"—his...
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SOURCE: A review of A Walk with Tom Jefferson, in Poetry, Vol. CLV, No. 3, December, 1989, pp. 236-39.
[In the following review, Gregerson considers some of the major themes in Levine's poetry, both in this collection and elsewhere.]
New York, Detroit, Fresno, Medford: from a shifting home front, the poet at sixty files his report on "God's Concern / for America." The evidence is not such as to make the poet sanguine. The walls that keep the darkness out are everywhere paper-thin. The news from above is mostly of ourselves: the autumnal sunset brilliant with pollutants, "all the earth we've pumped / into the sky," makes a pageant of doom from the by-products of human hope and industry ("A Walk with Tom Jefferson"). In Fresno, just this side of the fault line, the poet dreams the end of the world ("Waking in March"). The news arrives, bad joke that it is, from the glow above Los Angeles, and the poet can do no more than "go from bed / to bed bowing to the small damp heads / of my sons…." Outside the dream, the children have long since left home, but every parent knows those rounds by heart, knows the fault line panic opens beside the beds and their sweet burdens. The children have fallen asleep imagining that it is safe to do so; the parent, standing for safety, knows that safety is illusion. Who's in charge here? "If I told you that the old woman / named Ida Bellow was shot to death / for no...
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SOURCE: "In the Tradition of American Jewish Poetry: Philip Levine's Turning," in Studies in American Jewish Literature, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall, 1990, pp. 197-214.
[In the following essay, Chess discusses the Jewishness of Levine's poetry. He contends that when Levine tackles an explicitly Jewish topic, the result is often cliché. However, when he writes sincerely of general social and political justice, a genuine Jewish voice emerges.]
The discussion of American Jewish poetry has remained limited at best. On one hand, occasional book reviews have drawn attention to the treatment of Jewish subjects by this poet or that. On the other, there has been a virtual dismissal of the subject as one worthy of extensive investigation by critics like Harold Bloom and Herbert Levine, both of whom criticize the work of American Jewish poets on the grounds of their religious shortcomings.
But the fact is that this century's American poetry includes, and has been deeply influenced by, the work of dozens of American Jewish poets, most of whom have little or no interest in the Jewish religious experience. This is not to say they have no interest in the Jewish cultural experience. Indeed, sensitive reading of the poetry, especially those poems that on the surface appear to have little to do with the Jewish experience, often reveals how profound the influence of Jewish experience has been on a poet's vision...
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SOURCE: Review of New Selected Poems and What Work Is in Hudson Review, Vol. XLIV, No. 4, Winter, 1992, pp. 681-682.
[In the following review, Hudgins considers Levine's New Selected Poems and What Work Is. He is particularly complimentary of the latter work, declaring that it is a brilliant collection and that Levine is a superb poet.]
Except for the addition of fifteen poems culled from Sweet Will (1985) and A Walk with Tom Jefferson (1988), Philip Levine's New Selected Poems is identical with his Selected Poems (1984), right down to pagination and typeface. New Selected Poems, which serves to consolidate the poet's move from his previous publisher to Knopf, will be of interest primarily to readers new to Levine's poetry. New Selected Poems was published simultaneously with What Work Is, a frequently brilliant collection of new poems. The book's recurrent metaphor for work is burning, a metaphor that is introduced in the first poem, "Fear and Fame." After cleaning pickling tanks with a "burning stew" of acids, a worker emerges from the tanks and removes his protective gear: "Ahead lay the second cigarette, held in a shaking hand, / as I took into myself the sickening heat to quell heat, / a lunch of two Genoa salami sandwiches and Swiss cheese / on heavy peasant bread baked by my Aunt Tsipie, / and a third cigarette to kill...
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SOURCE: "Philip Levine at Work," in New England Review, Vol. 14, No. 4, Fall, 1992, pp. 291-305.
[In the following review of New Selected Poems and What Work Is, Frost not only considers the poems of these two books, but also ranges over the spectrum of Levine's wider output and poetic career.]
Exceptional poets come in two kinds: those whose territory is small (the neighborhood or garden, privately walled, perhaps) and those who speak for a wider locale. Both—like mapmakers, blues singers, and revolutionaries—are remarkable in their reinventions of common ground. It comes down to an act of mind, the imagination's ability to inhabit a place and time so deeply that the names for it are transformed. Philip Levine is a poet of wide territory, primarily interested in portraying the lives of ordinary working class people in America, shore to shore (Detroit, Gary, Pasadena, New York City, Dubuque, Akron, Baltimore, Wheeling, L.A.), in Spain (Barcelona, Malaga, Valladolid), and, with more passing reference, in Italy, Thailand, France, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Mexico, Canada, and Germany.
The Midwest exerts the strongest pull on his imagination, with its auto industry and its foundries, fertile ground for his treatment of the American work ethic, human will, and fatedness. Such places as Detroit and Belle Isle take on a nearly mythic glow, lit by the iron-colored fires of the...
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SOURCE: "The Riot That Found Its Threnody," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 16, 1994, pp. 3, 9.
[In the following review of The Bread of Fire: Toward an Autobiography, Eder discusses some of the prominent aspects of Levine's life.]
"I don't understand. I don't understand," Federico Garcia Lorca exclaimed when he arrived in New York. Out of the bewildered encounter between the finely surreal singer of slain gypsies and flowers that bleed, and Manhattan's stink and clangor, came "Poet in New York." A poet can write out of any state of spirit as long as he trusts it. Lorca trusted his dismay.
And he taught Philip Levine to trust his. Levine came to poetry in the course of a dozen years alternately spent studying and working in the hot-metal foundries of Detroit's auto industry. Illegitimate, not knowing who his father was, raised in near-poverty by a keen-spirited mother, he wore his blue collar with pride; particularly when he took a course from the languidly patrician Robert Lowell, whom he loathed. He also wore it with a sense of artistic constriction. Had he lived in the '30s, he might have settled into Socialist Realism. In the supremely disengaged '50s, his proletarian condition, leftist convictions and passion for the old Spanish Republic had no place to lodge. But there was more to it than that.
After working the overnight shift at Chevrolet Gear...
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SOURCE: "Stanzas in a Life," in New York Times Book Review, February 20, 1994, p. 14.
[In the following review, Gioia considers The Bread of Time, Levine's collection of autobiographical essays. Though Gioia praises certain facets of the work, he also criticizes it for certain shortcomings both as an autobiography and as a book of essays.]
The last few years have witnessed a changing of the guard in American poetry. The influential generation of writers born in the 1920's has reached retirement. It's hard to imagine this vigorous bunch, which includes Adrienne Rich, Donald Justice, Robert Bly, Richard Wilbur and Louis Simpson, as senior citizens. It seems like yesterday they were barnstorming the nation to oppose the war in Vietnam, redefine feminism or champion Surrealism. But the evidence is indisputable: they have begun publishing their memoirs. The last 12 months have seen the appearance of A Different Person by James Merrill and Donald Hall's Life Work as well as Adrienne Rich's autobiographical literary essays, What Is Found There. To those personal testimonies, one can now add The Bread of Time by Philip Levine.
Born in Detroit in 1928, Mr. Levine has assiduously cultivated the image of a tough working-class poet. His 15 volumes of feisty, chip-on-the-shoulder verse alternately celebrate and elegize a gritty world of lonely highways, aging...
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SOURCE: "A Conversation with Philip Levine," in TriQuarterly, No. 95, Winter, 1995/1996, pp. 67-82.
[In the following interview, conducted in Harry Thomas's English class at Davidson College on April 25, 1995, Levine answers questions about the sources and subject matter of his poetry as well as his writing style. He also discusses such topics as the nature of contemporary American poetry, some of its movements and practitioners, and the poetic process in general.]
[Chris Wyrick:] Congratulations on the big prize! [The Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The Simple Truth (1994)]
[Philip Levine:] Well, thank you. Yes. It's been a long time coming. But, you see, patience does pay off. Actually, I think it's better to get it when you're old. Ah, I'm happy to win it.
[George Weld:] I think now especially a lot of young writers feel a tension between the feeling that they need to be activists in their work for social change and a feeling that, as Auden says, "Poetry makes nothing happen," that poetry is irrelevant or elitist, and I'm wondering whether you feel this tension yourself.
Well, frankly, I think that Auden is wrong. Poetry does make things happen. And I think that if a young person is troubled by the idea that he or she is practicing an elitist art, then he ought to do something else. I mean, if you have grave doubts about...
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SOURCE: "Why 'Nothing is Past': Philip Levine's Conversation with History," in Private Poets, Worldly Acts: Public and Private History in Contemporary American Poetry, Ohio University Press, 1996, pp. 71-89.
[In the following essay, originally published in Boulevard, Volumes 25 and 26, Stein discusses Levine's historical consciousness. He analyzes Levine's insistence that the past is in constant dialogue with the present and that people and events of the past continue to mold those of today and of the future.]
Three-quarters of the way through Philip Levine's "The Present," a poem recounting the bloody memory of what happened when "Froggy Frenchman" fell from a high pallet at work, Levine shares a secret with his readers, "I began this poem in the present / because nothing is past." On a rhetorical level, Levine addresses his readers merely to let them know why, given the possibilities available to him, he chose present tense for a poem devoted to events long past. It's a way of saying, "Here's how this poem works," and though the remark surprises, it hardly smacks of the memorable. However, on an aesthetic plane, these lines reveal Levine's fundamental attitude towards the way the past impinges upon the present, enlivening, deepening, and sometimes haunting our lives. The past has never truly left us, Levine implies, and we can never flee from it.
In this larger sense, then,...
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SOURCE: Review of The Simple Truth in Prairie Schooner, Vol. 71, No. 2, Summer, 1997, pp. 179-82.
[In the following excerpt, Knight briefly considers the role of truth and reality in Levine's poems and also mentions Levine's "mastery of craft."]
There's just no reason for anyone to continue believing the old maxim that poets will have done their best work by middle age. Following the example of Robert Penn Warren, a number of American poets—among them A. R. Ammons, Maxine Kumin, and Donald Hall—are writing excellent poems past age sixty. For the reader who has watched a poet's literary life unfold, reading a first-rate collection of new poems from a longtime favorite is deeply satisfying. So it is with the … most recent [book] from Philip Levine….
Philip Levine … is interested in the holiness of daily life, the beauty of bare existence. American poets have spent a good deal of the twentieth century reminding us how complex reality is, how we see only "truth" or "truths," never Truth. We are forever getting poems written from Medusa's point of view, or Hitler's, or Nixon's, showing us that perspective is everything. The concrete poets, and more recently the language poets go out of their way to draw attention to the way the words were put on the page by someone at sometime, to de-familiarize the style, reminding the reader that it's all just another representation....
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Disch, Thomas M. "The Occasion of the Poem." Poetry CLX, No. 2 (May 1992): 94-107.
Praises What Work Is as a tight and consistent work.
Jackson, Richard. "The Long Embrace: Philip Levine's Longer Poems." Kenyon Review XI. No. 4 (Fall 1989): 160-69.
Explores the resurgence of long poems by examining some of Levine's longer poems.
Mariani, Paul. "Keeping the Covenant." Kenyon Review XI, No. 4 (Fall 1989): 170-77.
In depth review of A Walk with Tom Jefferson.
Saner, Reg. "Studying Interior Architecture by Keyhole: Four Poets." Denver Quarterly 20, No. 1 (Summer 1985): 107-17.
Describes Selected Poems as a "book one must have."
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