Philip Levine has just been named the new Poet Laureate. Levine, a Detroit-native who worked on automobile assembly lines and studied at Wayne State University, writes poetry that details the lives of the working class, often bringing attention to their backbreaking work and lack of personal power.
What is most lovely about Levine is his dedication to teaching poetry to whoever wants to learn. Levine has worked as a teacher at universities (most notably the University of California, Fresno.), but has always taught students who simply wanted to sit in at his classes and students who write to him and include their own work. This sort of behavior (which has gotten him into trouble with university officials on occasion) shows Levine's dedication to poetry, teaching, and his belief that those of us who had the least deserve attention and respect. Levine's appointment as a Poet Laureate could not have happened to a more deserving poet or person.
Levine's poetry famously centers around his experiences growing up in Detroit, and although he has been living elsewhere, hopefully he will use the "bully pulpit" to talk to a wider audience about class, truly hard work and the needs of Detroit, a city filled with exactly the sort of people he talks about.