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Philip Levine quotes (24)

Back then, I couldn't have left a poem a year and gone back to it.
Philip Levine   Category:

But I'm too old to be written about as a young poet.
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But most commonly, it's one poem that I work on with a lot of intensity.
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For sure I once thought of myself as the poet who would save the ordinary from oblivion.
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I have a sense that many Americans, especially those like me with European or foreign parents, feel they have to invent their families just as they have to invent themselves.
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I listen to jazz about three hours a day. I love Louis Armstrong.
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I realized poetry's the thing that I can do 'cause I can stick at it and work with tremendous intensity.
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I started listening to music when I wrote when I had three sons at home.
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I was very lucky to have a mother who encouraged me to become a poet.
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I write what's given me to write.
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I'm afraid we live at the mercy of a power, maybe a God, without mercy. And yet we find it, as I have, from others.
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I'm saying look, here they come, pay attention. Let your eyes transform what appears ordinary, commonplace, into what it is, a moment in time, an observed fragment of eternity.
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I'm seventy-one now, so it's hard to imagine a dramatic change.
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If that voice that you created that is most alive in the poem isn't carried throughout the whole poem, then I destroy where it's not there, and I reconstruct it so that that voice is the dominant voice in the poem.
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It's ironic that while I was a worker in Detroit, which I left when I was twenty six, my sense was that the thing that's going to stop me from being a poet is the fact that I'm doing this crummy work.
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Meet some people who care about poetry the way you do. You'll have that readership. Keep going until you know you're doing work that's worthy. And then see what happens. That's my advice.
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My father died when I was five, but I grew up in a strong family.
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My mother carried on and supported us; her ambition had been to write poetry and songs.
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My sense of a poem - my notion of how you revise - is: you get yourself into a state where what you are intensely conscious of is not why you wrote it or how you wrote it, but what you wrote.
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My temperament is not geared to that of a novelist.
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No one can write like Vallejo and not sound like a fraud. He's just too much himself and not you.
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Now I think poetry will save nothing from oblivion, but I keep writing about the ordinary because for me it's the home of the extraordinary, the only home.
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The irony is, going to work every day became the subject of probably my best poetry.
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There'll always be working people in my poems because I grew up with them, and I am a poet of memory.
Philip Levine   Category: Poetry