Philip Levine, Author . Knopf $23 (96p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4291-3

Though Levine's late-'60s poems (in They Feed They Lion ) surprised everyone, by now his readers know what to expect. Levine writes gritty, fiercely unpretentious free verse about American manliness, physical labor, simple pleasures and profound grief, often set in working-class Detroit (where Levine grew up) or in central California (where he now resides), sometimes tinged with reference to his Jewish heritage or to the Spanish poets of rapt simplicity (Machado, Lorca) who remain his most visible influence. Levine's 18th book will neither disappoint his devotees nor silence the doubters. The simple lyric pleasures are still here, however colored with mortality: "I came to walk/ on the earth, still cold, still silent." Many poems memorialize, by name, men now dead whom Levine admired when young: Uncle Nate, Uncle Simon, "great-uncle Yenkl"; "Antonio, the baker"; Bernie whose "mother/ worked nights at Ford Rouge"; Joachim, who once fought for the Spanish Republic; young John, "coming home from the job at Chevy," "even at sixteen... a man waiting to enter/ a man's world, the one that would kill him." "Until he dies, a boy remains a boy," the sequence "Naming" states; often Levine contrasts his boyhood memories with his experience of old age, to serious effect. His poems of grief also form, as Levine says, "a silent chorus/ for all those we've left/ behind." (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Paperback - 82 pages - 978-0-375-71078-0
Open Ebook - 82 pages - 978-0-307-51490-5
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