Monday, February 16, 2015

On the Passing of Philip Levine.

Philip Levine (Jan. 10, 1928 - Feb. 14, 2015). I wrote him this fall to thank him for a correspondence over a decade ago. In that first response, he'd talked about his own struggles with writing -- it was astonishing to me at the time, the idea that language and poetry could still be elusive to someone who'd mastered the form; he remains one of my favorite poets, and I've found him as instructive to me as a poet as I have as a fiction writer. (I'm looking for that first letter now.)

This is the beautifully charged response he wrote a few months ago at 86.

Dear Julianna,
How good of you to write all these years later. I love knowing I was of use to another writer. You’re right – it doesn’t get easier except when it does. That’s what probably keeps us going – the strange, mysterious glory of getting it right.
You’re searching for it just as I still am. We are such stubborn maniacs.
I hope you find it again soon – you will. May it be soon.
Thanks, Phil