“He was a poet of the night shift, a late, ironic Whitman of our industrial heartland, and his life’s work is a long assault on isolation, an ongoing struggle against the enclosures of suffering,” writes Edward Hirsch of the late poet Philip Levine in the new essay “Philip Levine, On the Job.” Hirsch discusses his friendship with Levine and how he came to edit Levine's final book, The Last Shift, which was just published by Knopf this week. Two of Levine's poems accompany the essay.

Levine, who was known for his long, narrative free verse that captured the Detroit he grew up in and created unflinching portraits of working-class America, was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, American Book Award for Poetry, and the Wallace Stevens Award, and also served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and U.S. poet laureate before his death on February 14, 2015.

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