Not all of Philip Levine’s poetry was about his hometown of Detroit, but a lot of it was. And as this son of Russian immigrants rose from the streets to win the Pulitzer Prize and even become poet laureate of the U.S., his literary voice never stopped pulsating with the sweat and soul of the blue-collar city where he was born.
Levine, whose poetry sang of the triumphs and tragedies of the working class, died Saturday at his home in Fresno, Calif. He was 87.
His wife, Frances Levine, told the Associated Press that her husband died less than a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
A graduate of what is now Wayne State University, Levine won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Simple Truth” in 1995 and two National Book Awards for “What Work Is (1991) and “Ashes: Poems New and Old” (1980). He served as the country’s poet laureate in 2011-12. He wrote 25 books of poetry, the last, “News of the World” was published in 2009.
One of his poems is included in a film Packard the Last Shift which will screen opening night of the Detroit Free Press Freep Film Festival, Thursday, March 20, 2014.
For the full article, see Mark Stryker, “Detroiter Philip Levine, working-class poet, dies at 87”, Detroit Free Press, February 15, 2015.
For another see Susan Whital, “Philip Levine, the ‘Walt Whitman’ of industrial Detroit”, Detroit News, February 17, 2015.