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Best of the National Book Festival: Philip Levine, 2012

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Each weekday, we will feature a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of our new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Mondays will feature topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literary fiction; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir; Thursday: popular fiction; and Friday: authors who write for children and teens. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection!

Philip Levine (1928-2015) came to the Poetry & Prose stage of the 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival after serving as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry the previous year. Levine won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for “The Simple Truth” and was a two-time winner of the National Book Award. He was also a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts. Rob Casper, head of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center, introduces Levine. The poet, who was from Detroit, tells the audience, “I was an industrial worker before I became a rich poet.”

Philip Levine’s reading begins at 2:55; timestamps for individual poems are below:

  • “Coming Close” (4:35)
  • “What Work Is” (8:29)
  • “Gin” (12:27)
  • “Houses in Order” (17:57)
  • “Our Reds” (21:08)
  • “The Two” (26:45)
  • “Gospel” (32:26)

Q&A begins at 35:25.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.