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A Walk with Tom Jefferson
     

A Walk with Tom Jefferson

by Philip Levine
 

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The inspiration for the title poem of Philip Levine’s A Walk with Tom Jefferson is not the founding father and third president of the United States that most readers would imagine upon hearing the name. Levine’s Tom Jefferson is quite different from his namesake: he is an African American living in a destitute area of industrial Detroit. But to

Overview

The inspiration for the title poem of Philip Levine’s A Walk with Tom Jefferson is not the founding father and third president of the United States that most readers would imagine upon hearing the name. Levine’s Tom Jefferson is quite different from his namesake: he is an African American living in a destitute area of industrial Detroit. But to Levine, he is “wise, compassionate, deliberate, honest…a great unknown American.” In A Walk with Tom Jefferson, Philip Levine reminds us why he is best known for his poems about working-class life in Detroit--and why so many people count a Levine poem among their favorites.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his first volume since Sweet Will ( LJ 4/15/85), Levine explores his past (I looked down from great height/ at a burned world I believed/ I never had to enter.''). But he did enter this burned world, a world of commerce, the daily ``buying and selling'' of souls. Levine's power derives from colloquial language fueled by anger. But in some of these 20 poems, anger dissipates to bitterness and his language goes flat. The long title poem, though, is its cornerstone: Levine's Tom Jefferson is a survivor of the consequences of commerceits wars, race riots, urban wastelands. Tom endures, like his winter garden, because he ``believes/ the roots need cold,/ the earth needs to turn/ to ice and snow so a new fire/ can start up in the heart/ of all that grows.''Robert Hudzik, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307829740
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/13/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
64
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

PHILIP LEVINE was born in 1928 in Detroit and attended Wayne State University. After a succession of industrial jobs, he left the city for good and lived in various parts of the country before settling in Fresno, California, where he taught at the state university until his retirement. He was the author of nineteen previous collections of poetry and was the recipient of two National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, among many other honors. He was poet laureate from 2011 until 2012, and served twelve autumns as poet-in-residence at New York University. He died in February 2015.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Fresno, California
Date of Birth:
January 10, 1928
Place of Birth:
Detroit, Michigan
Education:
B.A., Wayne State University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers Workshop, University of Iowa

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