Phillis Levin

Phillis Levin was born in Paterson, New Jersey and educated at Sarah Lawrence College and The Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University. She was a full-time member of the creative writing faculty at The University of Maryland from 1989 to 2001. She has taught poetry workshops and tutorials at The Unterberg Poetry Center of the Ninety-Second Street Y, and been a visiting professor at the graduate creative writing programs of The New School University and New York University. She is a professor of English and poet-in-residence at Hofstra University.

Phillis Levin is the author of four collections of poetry: Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award; The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995); Mercury (Penguin, 2001); and May Day (Penguin, 2008). She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001). Her poems have appeared in such journals as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Grand Street, Poetry, The Nation, Agni, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry London, and Paris Review, and have been published in a broad range of anthologies, including Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (edited by Billy Collins) and several editions of The Best American Poetry (1989, 1998, and 2009). She was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 program “In Our Time” in a conversation on the sonnet with Jonathan Bate and Frank Kermode. Her poem “May Day” was featured by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.” Translations of her poems have been published in Argentina, Peru, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Israel, and China.

Levin’s honors include a 1986 Ingram Merrill Grant, a 1995 Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the 1999 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2006 Richard Hugo Prize from Poetry Northwest, and a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has been an Elector of the American Poets’ Corner of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine and is co-director of The Sarah Lawrence Language Exchange, which sponsors the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize, a competition she founded in 1999. From 1985 to 1997 she was an editor of Boulevard magazine. She was the Guest Poetry Co-editor for the 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses.

Phillis Levin has given readings at numerous universities and cultural centers in the United States and abroad, and has lectured widely on the craft of poetry. About her most recent volume, May Day, poetry editor of The Kenyon Review David Baker has written: “the perfectly voiced poems of May Day situate us, time and again, on the line between articulation and erasure, security and peril, real clarity and the ancient sublime. I know of no other contemporary American poet whose style of secular poetry verges so convincingly on the holy.”

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