February 15, 2015 / 10:19 PM / 4 years ago

Philip Levine, ex-U.S. poet laureate who won Pulitzer, dead at 87

(Reuters) - Philip Levine, a former poet laureate of the United States who won a Pulitzer Prize, has died at age 87, according to the website of the Poetry Foundation.

Family or close associates of Levine could not be reached, but The New York Times reported that Levine died on Saturday at his home. Levine was a professor emeritus at California State University in Fresno, California.

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Levine grew up in Detroit, worked at an auto factory at age 14 and was known for writing about America’s working class, according to a Poetry Foundation biography. He championed blue collar and other workers and gave them a voice in his poetry, according to the foundation, which publishes Poetry magazine.

Levine was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his collection of poems called “The Simple Truth.” He won two national book awards, one for “Ashes: Poems New & Old” in 1980 and the other for “What Work Is” in 1991.

In 2011, the Library of Congress named Levine U.S. poet laureate for a two-year period. In 2013, he won the Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery of poetry by the Academy of American Poets, according to the foundation.

Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Frances Kerry

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