Philip Levine, former U.S. poet laureate, dies at 87


(JTA) — Philip Levine, the former poet laureate of the United States and a Pulitzer Prize winner, has died.

Levine died Saturday at his home in Fresno, Calif. He was 87. The cause was pancreatic and liver cancer, The New York Times reported.

One of the country’s most revered poets, Levine was poet laureate in 2011-12. He won a Pulitzer in 1995 for his collection “The Simple Truth.”

Levine, the son of poor Russian Jewish immigrant parents, also won two National Book Awards — for “Ashes, Poems New and Old” in 1980 and for “What Work Is” in 1991.

Levine’s poetry often touched on autobiographical, working-class themes and the industrial grit of his native Detroit.

In 1984, Edward Hirsch described Levine as a “large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland” in The New York Times Book Review.

Levine, the first member of his family to earn a college degree, also taught at California State University, Fresno, from 1958 to 1992.

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