Philip Levine was born in Detroit to Jewish immigrant parents. He was educated in the Detroit public schools and worked as a young man at car manufacturing plants in the city. Later he came to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he studied with John Berryman and Robert Lowell. After earning his MFA in 1957, he taught at California State University in Fresno until his retirement in 1992. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for The Simple Truth in 1995 and the National Book Award for Poetry for What Work Is in 1991. From July 2011 to July 2012, he served as the poet laureate of the United States.