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News of the World

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  342 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A superb new collection from “a great American poet . . . still at work on his almost-song of himself” (The New York Times Book Review).

In both lively prose poems and more formal verse, Philip Levine brings us news from everywhere: from Detroit, where exhausted workers try to find a decent breakfast after the late shift, and Henry Ford, “supremely bored” in his mansion, cl
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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Peycho Kanev
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A Story

Everyone loves a story. Let's begin with a house.
We can fill it with careful rooms and fill the rooms
with things—tables, chairs, cupboards, drawers
closed to hide tiny beds where children once slept
or big drawers that yawn open to reveal
precisely folded garments washed half to death,
unsoiled, stale, and waiting to be worn out.
There must be a kitchen, and the kitchen
must have a stove, perhaps a big iron one
with a fat black pipe that vanishes into the ceiling
to reach the sky and exhale its s
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Doug Korb

News of the World
by Philip Levine
Hardcover 80 pages
Alfred A. Knopf (October, 2009)

In Philip Levine’s most recent collection, News of the World, the last poem in the book, ”Magic,” begins by describing Detroit’s Michigan Central Terminal, now destined to go the way of New York’s Pennsylvania Station. The poem’s speaker recounts the terminal’s importance as “the scene” of his early “enlightenment,” where he learned about “treasures of the world [he’d:] never
James Murphy
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
News of the World is a volume of poems about work, about disappearing industrial activity, and the flourishing of rust. Levine writes about closed factories. This is celebration of the past and a world now gone. He stands in the junkyards of America's midwest remembering the vanished times of the metal lunchbox and lines of men filing under skies busy with stacks and smoke and through workshops filled with the clamor of industry and purpose. Mostly he's remembering a childhood growing up in sett ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I feel almost obligated to love Levine's work since he is the Poet Laureate, and while I appreciate his narrative style, I also grew a little tired of that singular approach. My favorite poems in this collection are "Magic" and "On Me!"
Lisbeth Solberg
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Thank you to my brother Gary for this book.

I was expecting the "news" of its title to be metaphorical and internal, but these poems are informed by history and politics as the author experiences different places and their people. News of the world, indeed.

The lieutenant enjoys this repartee, he's amused by my innocence, he shakes his head, he is discreet & patient with this visitor to his ancient city that boasts the first Plaza de Toros in all the world. "You Americans," & he suppresses
Gavin Boone
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Beautiful, beautiful poetry. Almost give it a 5.
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
“News of the world” by Philip Levine. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Inc., New York N.Y. 2009.
“News of the world” by Philip Levine is a collection of prose poetry that brings the happenings of the world to the reader’s fingertips. “News of the world” is a snapshot collection of poems that capture the essence of America and the world. Philip Levine gives contemporary poetry a fresh perspective by taking readers back into a time of war, a place of solitude, and desperation. His poems
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Something between a 3 and 4, but fuck it, I love the whole "working man's voice" thing Levine's got going on and I love him and he got himself named the Poet Laureate, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. There's not much to say. This is poetry that someone who got put off poetry from too many high school English classes ("but what is the poet really saying?") can get into. Clean, natural, emotionally gutting. I'll let the poetry speak for itself:


The punch-press op
M- S__
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I came into this book with a pretty heavy bias. I burned through my first two of his books (They Feed They Lion and What Work Is). I find the voice of his poetry enchanting. This collection begins in the aftermath of violence. The first half of the book seems to frequently return to a world just after war from the perspective of a person who was never there. Everything is second hand. We only touch the violence through relationships with family or watch it shape the world beyond us from a librar ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't know how the Library of Congress picks the Poet Laureate of the United States. I am fairly sure it involves secret meetings and long conversations. However, they do it, I am grateful that they just picked Philip Levine. I might not have read any poetry by him without having heard the announcement about his appointment.

This book is amazing. I just don't have the words to do Levine justice. His words are all you need. Go to the library, check out this book and read. Don't speed through it
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rereadable
I like to keep a book of poems on my bedside table. I chose this last collection by Philip Levine after reading that he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2011. I had read a few of his poems in the past and enjoyed him so I decided I'd buy a book. I chose this collection over his others simply because it was the one they had at the bookstore I happened to be in. I would recommend any of his poetry, however. His writing never fails to engage me.

I find it difficult to describe po
Newton Public Library Iowa
"I chose first a virgin copy of The Idiot by Dostoyevsky, every page of which confirmed life was irrational," Philip Levine recalls in "Library Days". Levine, who, though it seems he has traveled the world and lived the hard way to do so, has come to terms with irrationality being the norm. News of the World is just that—Levine's views of the world from various locations and at different points in time. He takes readers to Spain fifty years ago and Detroit at the turn of the twentieth century, a ...more
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
This offering from our newest Poet Laureate caught my attention as the "fresh pick of the day" at our library. While I am on a "quest" to discover poetry for the first time in my life, I decided to try and tackle it.

Several poems entertained me:

"Of Love and Other Disasters" made me chuckle, "Library Days" made me reminisce, "Innocence" brought a feeling of pride in our nation's ordinary heroes, and "Our Valley" made me think and want to learn how to appreciate the beautiful earth even more.

Miriam Jacobs
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of course, Levine's poetry is involving and instructive - the language, the music, the accordion pacing, the topics that matter. However, there is just a hint here, especially in the sometimes trite landings, that we are hearing from 'Philip Levine' rather than Philip Levine - a poetic voice that has lost itself ever so slightly in persona. Levine is human, and I should make such a human error! Five stars, anyway.
JJ Aitken
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Philip Levine does for me what Ramond Carver does for the short story. These poems have a clarity to them and a sense of hopefulness that leave me viewing the world in a much simpler way, larger yet whole. This shift in perception coming about from images as arbitrary as a young boys sneaker clad foot resting in the sunshine or the door to someones home left ajar. And these images re-appear to me for a long time afterwards. An all time favorite poet of mine.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
My favorite section was III, which features prose poems. My favorite of those was "Fixing the Foot: On Rhythm." "Islands" and "Old World" also stood out. As for the rest of the poems in this collection, I found them to be rather boring or difficult to understand. Lots of poems were set overseas or took place many decades ago. A few that I did like:
"Unholy Saturday"
"On Me!"
"Library Days" (simply for the title)
"Two Voices" (has a killer ending)
"Burial Rites"
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
this is a shout out to my favorite hometown working-class poet. a rare bird indeed. so glad, on reading this most recent tome, that at 85 he's still forging ahead strong, and not going gently into that good night. and last week, a $100,000 poetry prize. good for him. wishing him more great accomplishments to come.
Therese Broderick
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
The ongoing acrimonious debate among American politicians about health care & health insurance contrasts so vividly with one poem in this book -- the memorable "Fixing the Foot: On Rhythm" -- that I had to give this book four stars just for its vision of a family doctor who is kind, wise, skilled, and beloved by his patients. The poem brought back memories of my own childhood physician, Dr. Assini, who made house calls. Thank you, US Poet Laureate Philip Levine.
Sarah Ryburn
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This slim volume of poetry marks Levine's twentieth since 1963 but my first experience of his work. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He works in both prose poems and more formal, structured poetry. As the title suggests, his verse proclaims news of the world and its strange, often melancholy as well as lovely, themes.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved this book so much. Every poem was powerful and natural and interesting. Section three was neat, it was entirely composed of prose poems, while the rest of the book was more standard free verse in terms of form. I especially like "A Story", "Arrival and Departure", "of Love and Other Disasters", "News of the World", and "Magic", but all the poems were great.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Loved it from beginning to end. Poems are news that stay news, says Ezra, and these do. I heard Philip Levine read the opening poem -- the sense that we need to remember, "this is not MY land" nor are we in control of much.
Meditative, infused with a sense that life is bigger than we ... by painting history as present as now.
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm rereading Phil Levine because it's time to do so. News of the World is just as amazing the second time as the first time I read it. Levine is the real deal! There's really nothing more to say. He's so damn good.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Levine is a former US Poet Laureate. Poetry, more than other forms of writing, is like a visual art to me. Either I like it or don't, either it speaks to me or it doesn't. The poems in News of the World are well done, beautifully written, but I didn't really connect with them.
David Miller
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the first book of poems I've really gotten in some basic sense. They seem like short stories crammed into a few words: every word has to count; the density makes every phrase count.

The last two poems were the best; or maybe by then my ear had gotten more attuned to the language.

Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great collection of poetry and prose with a strong Detroit connection. Gritty and tough.
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Levine's poetry has that certain organic rhythm to it, like someone whispering certain truths in your ear. My father, the Baltic is simply a great, great poem.
Patricia Murphy
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was surprised and delighted by the prose poems, which offered some more poetic moments than some of the other poems. Was also loving the varied landscapes here--Cuba, Australia, Spain.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Specific detail, telling small stories, intimate and articulate. Pictures of Detroit and Europe and his family.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I like Levine so it was nice to read a new book by him from the library. His writing on Henry Ford - Dearborn Avenue stood out to me.
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  • Flies
  • Gulf Music: Poems
  • Facts About the Moon
  • Almost Invisible: Poems
  • Head Off & Split
  • Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty
  • Wheeling Motel
  • October
  • A New Path to the Waterfall
  • Blackbird and Wolf: Poems
  • Mercy
  • Winter Stars
  • Black Aperture
  • When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone
  • Time and Materials
  • The Earth in the Attic
  • Place: New Poems
  • In Search of Small Gods
Philip Levine (b. January 10, 1928, Detroit, Michigan. d. February 14, 2015, Fresno, California) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit.

He taught for over thirty years at the English Department of California State University, Fresno and held teaching positions at other universities as well. He is appointed to serve as the Poet Laureate of t
More about Philip Levine...
Our Valley

We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you're thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn't your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.”
More quotes…