The Big Read Blog (Archive)

"They Feed They Lion" by Philip Levine

Image of Philip Levine used courtesy of The Poetry Foundation

Last year, my colleague Rebecca and I were lucky enough to sit down and talk poetry with the former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine in his suite at the Library of Congress. Rebecca conducted the interview while I recorded it. One of the questions she put to Levine was which of his poems were his favorite. Here's his answer, followed by a reading of "They Feed They Lion" and an explanation of what inspired it. It's a moving poem inspired by the explosive race riots in Detroit in the late 1960s. [3:46]

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov/audio/TheyLionLevine.mp3]

[transcript]

"They Feed They Lion" from New Selected Poems (Alfred A Knopf, 1991), © Philip Levine 1991, used by permission of Alfred A Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. Poem reading used courtesy of The Poetry Foundation and Random House.

Can't get enough Philip Levine? Please check out this post where he discusses his own work, his love of jazz, and a time he realized a poem of his wasn't good.

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