United States Poet Laureate (2011-2012) Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet
Philip Levine, Unites States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in 1928 to Russian-Jewish immigrants, in Detroit, a city that inspired much of his writing. 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]... quintessential^ urban poets." 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.”
Levine received degrees from Wayne State University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and in 1957 was awarded the Jones Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford. As a student, he worked a number of industrial jobs at Detroit’s auto-manufacturing plants. About his experience writing poems in his factory days, Levine has said, "I believed even then that if I could transform my experience into poetry, I would give it the value and dignity it did not begin to possess on its own. I thought, too, that if I could write about it I could come to understand it;
I believed that if 1 could understand my life—or at least the part my work played in it—I could embrace it with some degree of joy, an element conspicuously missing from my life."
The author of 20 collections of poems, Levine has won numerous awards. He won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for The Simple Truth, and the National Book Award both in 1991 for What Work is, and in 1980 for Ashes: Poems New and Old. Additional awards include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, the Frank O’Hara Prize, two Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships, and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (for which he served as chair of the Literature Panel). In 1997 Levine was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2000-2006. Levine was appointed the eighteenth Poet Laureate of the United States.