Revisiting my interview with recent U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine from 2012 for WMUK's Arts and More program. Levine, who also won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in poetry, has passed away at age 87.
Philip Levine, the most recent poet laureate, was born in Detroit. Some of his most famous poems are about his time working for General Motors, a job he says he didn't like very much.
Levine recently ended his term as the 18th U.S. poet laureate. He says the poet laureate position is honorary. Levine says many people think he has to help them with their poetry, but he was not obligated to do so because he did not actually work for the U.S. government. Poet laureates are appointed by the Library of Congress, but have few, if any, obligations in that position.
Many poet laureates have chosen to do a project, but Levine says he was more interested in reading to groups like labor unions and OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration). Levine says he didn’t have a project, but he did ask poets he knew to send him the ‘ugliest poems,’ which he put into an anthology. Levine tried to get the Library of Congress to publish it, but they said they would do nothing of the kind.
To find out more about poet laureate Philip Levine and his work, and to read the complete article at WMUK, click the play button to hear his interview with WMUK’s Zinta Aistars.