Philip Levine Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Philip Levine (luh-VEEN) has published a collection of interviews, Don’t Ask (1981), in the University of Michigan’s Poets on Poetry series. A series of autobiographical essays make up The Bread of Time (1994). Levine selected and translated Tarumba: The Selected Poems of Jaime Sabines, with Ernesto Trejo (1979) and Off the Map: Selected Poems of Gloria Fuertes, with Ada Long (1984).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Philip Levine has received a number of poetry awards, most significantly the Pulitzer Prize for The Simple Truth in 1995. Other awards include Frank O’Hara Prizes (1973, 1974), an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1973), the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize (1976), the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize (1977) for The Names of the Lost, the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine (1979), the National Book Critics Circle Award (1979) for Ashes and Seven Years from Somewhere, and the National Book Award in Poetry (1980) for Ashes. What Work Is earned the poet the National Book Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a Silver Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. He also was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (1987), the Northern California Book Award in poetry (1988), a second Silver Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California for The Mercy, and a Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement in 2004. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships (1974, 1981).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Brouwer, Joel. “The Stubbornness of Things.” Review of The Mercy. Progressive 68, no. 8 (August, 1999): 44. This observant and respectful review singles out key passages from representative poems to illustrate Levine’s fascination with the past and his “obsessive desire to get it right.”

Buckley, Christopher, ed. On the Poetry of Philip Levine: Stranger to Nothing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991. This first comprehensive look at the poet’s career offers both important reviews chronologically arranged and a series of essays that focus on different aspects of Levine’s work.

Jackson, Richard. “The Long Embrace, Philip Levine’s Longer Poems.” Kenyon Review 11 (Fall, 1989): 160-169. A detailed analysis of three long poems of Levine: “Letters for the Dead” (from 1933), “A Poem with No Ending” (from Sweet Will), and “A Walk with Tom Jefferson,” the title poem of the 1988 volume. He singles out the most recent poem as the most successful in sustaining intensity throughout a long poem.

Knight, Jeff Parker. Review of The Simple Truth. Prairie Schooner 71, no. 2 (Summer, 1997): 179-182. Knight claims that Levine measures the tension between truth and reality in The Simple Truth and in his other poems. Attending also to...

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