Wednesday 10 August 2011

Philip Levine is the new Poet Laureate of the United States

A long-time favourite of mine, Philip Levine has just been announced as the Poet Laureate of the United States. According to The Detroit Free Press:

Detroit native Philip Levine has been appointed poet laureate by the U.S. Librarian of Congress.
The Library’s 18th poet laureate consultant, Levine, 83, will open the library’s annual literary season Oct. 17 with a reading of his work.

As a Wayne State University student in his 20s, he wrote poems as he worked a number of industrial jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, including Detroit Transmission -- a branch of Cadillac -- and the Chevrolet Gear and Axle factory.

“Philip Levine is one of America’s great narrative poets,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a news release announcing the appointment. “His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’ -- about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives.”

Levine succeeds W.S. Merwin as poet laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Gl├╝ck, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove and Richard Wilbur... 

You can read the rest here.

And you can read Levine's poem "They Feed They Lion" here.

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