What Work Is by Philip Levine

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Winner of the National Book Award in 1991
“This collection amounts to a hymn of praise for all the workers of America. These proletarian heroes, with names like Lonnie, Loo, Sweet Pea, and Packy, work the furnaces, forges, slag heaps, assembly lines, and loading docks at places with unglamorous names like Brass Craft or Feinberg and Breslin’s First-Rate Plumbing and Plating. Only Studs Terkel’s Working approaches the pathos and beauty of this book. But Levine’s characters are also significant for their inner lives, not merely their jobs. They are unusually artistic, living ‘at the borders of dreams.’ One reads The Tempest ‘slowly to himself’; another ponders a diagonal chalk line drawn by his teacher to suggest a triangle, the roof of a barn, or the mysterious separation of ‘the dark from the dark.’ What Work Is ranks as a major work by a major poet . . . very accessible and utterly American in tone and language.”
—Daniel L. Guillory, Library Journal

About Philip Levine

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Philip Levine was born in 1928 in Detroit, where he was formally educated in the public schools and at Wayne University (now Wayne State University). After a succession of industrial jobs, he left the country before settling in Fresno, California, where he taught at the university there until his retirement. He has received many awards for his books of poems, most recently the National Book Award in 1991 for What Work Is, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Simple Truth.
Published August 31, 2011 by Knopf. 77 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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