News - Philip Levine appointed 18th Poet Laureate of the United States

Posted: 14/08/2011 20:15 | News Home

In an interview in The New Yorker, and in The Washington Post, Philip Levine, America's new poet Laureate, talks about Owen:

"When Levine was 17, his English teacher lent him a book of Wilfred Owen’s poetry. Levine, coming of age during WWII, immersed himself in this “exquisitely antiwar book” based on Owen’s experiences as a lieutenant in WWI.

“'It validated my own feelings about a future in combat,” he said. “I did not look forward to graduating high school and getting drafted. . . . If you went to the films, which we did all the time, it was very clear that you were less than a man if you weren’t willing to go out there and get blown apart in battle. And I didn’t really want to kill anybody either. . . . That was my first powerful attraction to great poetry.'”

From The Washington Post, August 10, 2011

"When I was in the eleventh grade and the war was still going, a teacher read us some poems by Wilfred Owen. And after class, for some reason, she called me up to her desk and said, “Would you like to borrow this book?” How she knew that I was responding so powerfully to these poems, I’m not sure, but I was. She said, “Now, I want you to take it home, and read it with white gloves on.” In other words, don’t spill soup on it. It was probably the most significant poetic experience I had in my whole life, and I was only seventeen."

From The New Yorker, 2006

Tags: Philip Levine | Category: General