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Release: Sept. 8, 2000

Pulitzer-winning poet and UI alumnus Philip Levine reads Sept. 22

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Poet Philip Levine, a Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will read from his work at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22 in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library. The free reading is co-sponsored by the UI International Writing Program and the workshop.

Levine is the author of 16 books of poetry, most recently "The Mercy." His other poetry collections include the Pulitzer-winning "The Simple Truth" (1994) and the National Book Award-winning "What Work Is" (1991). His "New Selected Poems" (1991) and "Ashes: Poems New and Old" (1979) both won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Levine is particularly well known for his poems set in Detroit, invoking a blighted urban landscape. A prolific poet, he has published collections at regular intervals since "On the Edge" appeared in 1963. His earliest poems were relatively formal, but "Not This Pig" (1968), his second book, marked the emergence of his mature style, characterized by a haunting lyricism, an inward sense of the natural world, and a strong identification with ethnic and working-class issues. There is an undertone of rage and defiance throughout later volumes.

Edward Hirsch wrote, in response to Levine’s book "They Feed The Lion," "[Levine is] capable of thorny affirmations. . . The magisterial title poem is Levine’s hymn of communal rage. It fuses a host of influences into a daring and brilliant new whole. One hears behind it the driving rhythms of the biblical prophets, the anaphora of Christopher Smart’s ‘Jubilate Agno’ and Whitman’s ‘Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,’ the wildly inventive, mixed diction of Dylan Thomas and John Berryman, the splendid verbal twists and turns of colloquial speech."

Levine has also published a collection of essays, "The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography" (1994), in which he discusses his experience at the UI, and he edited "The Essential Keats." He co-edited and translated several other volumes of poetry.

Levine has received numerous awards, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize for Poetry, the Frank O'Hara Prize and two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships. For two years he served as chair of the Literature Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, and he was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2000.

After a succession of industrial jobs, he left the country. He has periodically lived in Spain, a country whose people, landscape, and history remain a strong presence in his poems. Levine finally settled in Fresno, Calif., where he taught for a number of years at the state university before retiring.