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Philip Levine’s Final Lecture as Poet Laureate
This Washington Post article highlights Philip Levine’s final lecture as U.S. Poet Laureate.
A taste before the jump:
Before a packed auditorium of fans, the 84-year-old poet delivered his final lecture as the U.S. poet laureate with the same humility and quiet passion that have marked his work for decades. His 40-minute address, entitled “My Forgotten Poets,” recalled the fellow students at Wayne University who first introduced him to writers beyond Chaucer and Shakespeare, whom he’d studied at his Detroit high school.
It was a moving speech of reminiscence, literary criticism and poetic reclamation that paid tribute to his first literary friends. There was Bernard, an impossibly brilliant young student who read one of his own poems in a strange, strained voice at a small gathering. “I was struck by the boy’s willingness to openly acknowledge his narcissism,” Levine said. But he was also struck by Bernard’s knowledge of modern verse, and he profited from his advice about what to read.
“So much of what I read was inspiring and left me lost and found,” Levine said. “I learned to love the mystery of it, and I still love the mystery of it.”