Poet Philip Levine Recalls Life at the Factory


Jeffrey Brown profiles poet Philip Levine, a former auto worker who became a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

JEFFREY BROWN:  We started out talking about your life in the factories. Many years later, you have made a life as a poet. Does that surprise you?

PHILIP LEVINE:  Oh, God, yes. Oh, I mean, I’m stunned.

One of the things that made it happen was pure luck. On my 26th birthday, I met my present wife. And how many women could stay with a guy who has no prospects and wants to write poetry and stay with him now 55 years?

Sometimes, she worked, so that I can sit home and scribble. And she honors what I’m doing. And I think that is the most crucial thing, to be honored, as a poet, even if it — not by a nation, because a nation is an abstraction, but just to be honored by this person, or that person, or especially by your wife, or your brothers, or your mother, father, I mean, it’s just fantastic. It keeps you going in a way that nothing else could keep you going.

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