It’s embarrassing to admit as a poet, but I hadn’t read a lot of Philip Levine’s poetry before moving to the Detroit area. And even then, I discovered it incidentally. Yet Philip Levine’s poetry about Detroit proved welcome reading to a newcomer trying to uncover what this scarred and divided city is all about.
Levine wrote the style of poetry that I aspire to. His poetry is visceral. It provides a glimpse into the heart of a working-class Detroiter, and gives us a tremendous understanding of what sense of place. His poetry transports you to a moment in time, generally a moment in time somewhere in Detroit. I invite you to read a few of these poems from Philip Levine from The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry: