Philip Levine was born in 1928 in Detroit and graduated from Wayne University (now Wayne State University). After a succession of industrial jobs, he attended the writing workshop at the University of Iowa, where he received an MFA in 1957. He settled in Fresno, California, where he taught at the state university until his retirement, and afterward served as poet-in-residence at New York University for more than a decade. He received many awards for his books of poems, including two National Book Awards--in 1980 for Ashes: Poems Old and New, and in 1991 for What Work Is--and the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Simple Truth. In 2011 he was appointed poet laureate of the United States. He died in 2015.