Phillis Levin was born in 1954 in Paterson, New Jersey. She began writing at an early age and received a BA in poetry, philosophy, and psychology from Sarah Lawrence College in 1976. She went on to receive an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 1977.
Her first book, Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and in 1989 she became an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she taught through 2001.
She is the author of Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin, 2016), May Day (Penguin, 2008), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), and The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995). Rosanna Warren notes, “Phillis Levin’s poems are both hot and cool—at once molten glass and shaped crystalline structure. With her abstracting and philosophical intelligence, she muses on patterns of passion and loss; with her heart, she makes us feel them.”
Levin also edited The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (Penguin, 2001), which Kimiko Hahn calls “one of my desert-island books!” She has taught creative writing at the 92nd Street Y, New York University, The New School, and Hofstra University, where she has served as a Professor of English and the Poet-in-Residence since 2001.
She is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives with her husband, Jack Shanewise, in New York City.