Phillip Levine Interviewed.

You were recently named America’s poet laureate. What has been most surprising about the gig?
How much attention it’s gotten. People like my doctor or the guy who sells me wine or the people in my gym come up to me and say, “Oh, Phil, this is marvelous.” Some of them didn’t even know I was a poet. Now there are mobs of people when I give readings. I read at a high school in Pennsylvania, and there were 600 people.

You’ve read to sparse crowds before?

How about zero? University of San Francisco, in ’69, after I published my second book. There was one person there, and he’s the guy who drove me. He found a place to park and came in and said, “Where is everybody?” I said, “You’re everybody.”
Amiri Baraka lost the title of New Jersey’s poet laureate after publishing a poem in which he suggested that Israel was complicit in 9/11. Considering you once described yourself as a “dirty Detroit Jew with bad manners,” what scenario could you imagine that would prematurely end your own term?
I’m 83 years old. I don’t think there’s any intern with the patience to be seduced by me. I guess I would talk about the sliminess of certain people in political office and then that would be relayed to Fox News and then our dear Republican right would get very upset. It would be easy enough to make trouble.
You’ve written many poems about the “stupid jobs” you worked during your 20s at various Detroit auto plants. Which was the worst?
Chevrolet gear and axle. I worked nights, mainly in a forge room, stamping out large pieces of metal in a drop forge. I couldn’t get over my fear of that red metal.
Read the entire interview here.

0 thoughts on “Phillip Levine Interviewed.

  1. I could write upbeat poems for money. I will be contacting this Mr. Barr about his $200 Millions to discuss an advance. I like money. You can buy stuff with it. Stuff like houses and refrigerators. Knowing how to write a poem and being paid for doing it sounds like a comfortable arrangement. One question…does it have to be good or is upbeat enough to qualify for the $200 millions?

    1. I can pay you jack-shit for writing depressing gloom and doom Goth poetry of the graveyard school vein chronicling the fatalistic exploits of the downtrodden and weary lower middle class. But be sure to include a poignant erudite word in line 3 of this 3 stanza 12 line poem with at least an expletive in italics so we can submit it to the “Best Poetry of 2012” yearly.

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