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Philip Levine, 1928-2015

w-philip-levine-obitPhilip Levine died on February 14th, and with his death the United States lost one of it’s great working poets. A transcription of Tom Vitale’s thoughtful obituary that aired on Morning Edition is available from North Country Public Radio, and he is remembered by colleagues at California State University Fresno here.  Levine is well represented in the SLU Libraries collections, including his first book On the Edge (a book from Frank Piskor’s collection), Not this Pig, and Simple Truth, the book which won him the Pulitzer Prize. We also have his autobiography published in 1994, The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography.  There are interviews with Levine in American Poetry Review (November/December 2013), Triquarterly (winter 1995), and Five Points (January 2008).  One of his poems is titled “Losing You,”



Losing You

Another summer gone,
the hills burned to burdock
and thistle, I hold you
a moment in the cup
of my voice,
you flutter
in the frail cave of finch,
you learn to speak
in my ear
and the first rain blows
you away.

Dusk is a burning
of the sun.
West of Chowehilla
The Lost Continent of Butterflies
streams across the freeway.
Radiators crusted,
windshields smeared with gold
and you come on
rising into the moons
of headlights.

My brother is always a small bear
cleaning his paws<
I am a leopard
running through snow,
you are the face of an egg
collapsing sideways.
Now the last olive falls
gripping its seed,
a black stone among stones
and you are lost.

In a white dress
my little girl goes to the window.
She is unborn,
she is the thin flame
of a candle,
she is her mother
singing a song,
her words frost
the mirror of the night,
a huge wind waits
at the back of her breath.

Poetry Magazine November, 1972

~ by pdoty on February 16, 2015.

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