Philip Levine, One of the most honored poets in US has received a $100,000 lifetime achievement prize.
On Thursday, The American Academy of Poets announced that Levine, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, has been given the Wallace Stevens Award.
The 85-year-old Levine is known for his detailed portraits of the working class. His books include “What Work Is” and “News of the World.”
Born in Detroit, Michigan, on January 10, 1928, Philip Levine was formally educated in the Detroit public school system and at Wayne University (now Wayne State University), Michigan’s only urban public research university. After graduation, Levine worked a number of industrial jobs, including the night shift at the Chevrolet Gear and Axle factory, reading and writing poems in his off hours. In 1953, he studied at the University of Iowa, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. There, Levine studied with poets Robert Lowell and John Berryman, the latter of which Levine called his “one great mentor.”
In 1957, after teaching technical writing in Iowa City, Levine travelled to California, where he hoped to relocate with his wife and two children. Levine was welcomed by the poet Yvor Winters, who agreed to house the aspiring poet until he found a place to live and later chose Levine for a Stanford Writing Fellowship. Levine published his debut collection of poems, On the Edge (The Stone Wall Press), in 1963, followed by Not This Pig (Wesleyan University Press) in 1968. Since then, Levine has published numerous books of poetry, most recently News of the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010); Breath (2004); The Mercy (1999); The Simple Truth (1994), which won the Pulitzer Prize; What Work Is (1991), which won the National Book Award; New Selected Poems (1991); Ashes: Poems New and Old (Atheneum, 1979), which received the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the first American Book Award for Poetry; 7 Years From Somewhere (1979), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Names of the Lost (1975), which won the 1977 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and They Feed They Lion (1973).
Levine has also published nonfiction essays and interviews, collected in The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography (University of Michigan Press, 1994); Don’t Ask (1981); and So Ask: Essays, Conversations, and Interviews (2002).
As editor, Levine published The Essential Keats (Ecco Press, 1987). He has also coedited and translated two books: Off the Map: Selected Poems of Gloria Fuertes (with Ada Long, Wesleyan University Press, 1984) and Tarumba: The Selected Poems of Jaime Sabines (with Ernesto Trejo, Sarabande Books, 2007).
Levine has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize from 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. He taught for many years at California State University, Fresno, and has served as Distinguished Poet in Residence for the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
Most recently, he was announced as the recipient of the 2013 Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry by the Academy of American Poets.
Also the academy awarded Patricia Smith’s “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah” the Lenore Marshall prize, worth $25,000, for the best book of poetry in 2012. Carolyn Forchş received a $25,000 fellowship stipend, and John Taylor won a translation award that includes a $25,000 stipend and $10,000 cash prize.