1/10/2014: Happy Birthday, Philip Levine!
The former U.S. poet laureate turns 86 today. Hear him read from his work and talk to David Greene about the “hateful,” “exhausting” work of laboring in Detroit car factories. 
In “Salt and Oil,” from Mercy, Levine writes of the power — or perhaps the duty — of observation, and gives a little master class in what it means to look:

Three young men in dirty work clothes on their way home or to a bar in the late morning. This is not a photograph, it is a moment in the daily life of the world, a moment that will pass into the unwritten biography of your city or my city unless it is frozen in the fine print of our eyes. I turn away to read the morning paper and lose the words. …
… three young men in dirty work clothes on their way under a halo of torn clouds and famished city birds. There is smoke and grease, there is the wrist’s exhaustion, there is laughter, there is the letter seized in the clock and the apple’s tang, the river sliding along its banks, darker now than the sky descending a last time to scatter its diamonds into these black waters that contain the day that passed, the night to come.

Full poem. More poems.
Drawing by N.C. Mallory, Flickr, Creative Commons.

1/10/2014: Happy Birthday, Philip Levine!

The former U.S. poet laureate turns 86 today. Hear him read from his work and talk to David Greene about the “hateful,” “exhausting” work of laboring in Detroit car factories. 

In “Salt and Oil,” from Mercy, Levine writes of the power — or perhaps the duty — of observation, and gives a little master class in what it means to look:

Three young men in dirty work clothes 
on their way home or to a bar 
in the late morning. This is not 
a photograph, it is a moment 
in the daily life of the world, 
a moment that will pass into 
the unwritten biography 
of your city or my city 
unless it is frozen in the fine print 
of our eyes. I turn away 
to read the morning paper and lose 
the words. …

… 
three young men in dirty work clothes 
on their way under a halo 
of torn clouds and famished city birds. 
There is smoke and grease, there is 
the wrist’s exhaustion, there is laughter, 
there is the letter seized in the clock 
and the apple’s tang, the river 
sliding along its banks, darker 
now than the sky descending 
a last time to scatter its diamonds 
into these black waters that contain 
the day that passed, the night to come.

Full poem. More poems.

Drawing by N.C. Mallory, Flickr, Creative Commons.

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