The family of the late U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine will donate his extensive personal library collection of more than 2,000 books to Fresno State for the creation of the Philip Levine Reading Room.
The Levine family’s book donation will be publicly announced at the “Philip Levine: A Celebration” event on Feb. 20, when Fresno State gathers friends, colleagues and former students to pay tribute to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor emeritus of English who passed away Feb. 14, 2015.
The reading room will be located on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library, overlooking the University’s Peace Garden. When built, it will provide a space for students, faculty and members of the greater Fresno community to explore poetry and to read, write and muse. The Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing will hold graduate workshops and public readings and will also host visiting guest writers and scholars there.
Peter McDonald, dean of Library Services at Fresno State, said the Madden Library is honored to have the Philip Levine Reading Room in its second-floor atrium. “Phil’s long and distinguished career was steeped in the literary arts, and it is a testament to his genius, and a reminder to our students, that books, and poetry in particular, still matter in a civil society,” McDonald said. “We look forward to the day of its dedication.”
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State, said the reading room will honor Levine’s legacy as a poet, professor emeritus and humanitarian with a permanent space where students and community members can work to find and hone their craft as writers, readers and thinkers.
“Phil Levine’s poetry celebrates the full promise of the present and dignifies the laborer,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “His poetry finds the jewels of thought, wisdom and joy hidden in the everyday. The Philip Levine Reading Room is a fitting tribute, as it’s designed as a dynamic and creative, student-centered space that promotes learning, writing and the development of thought.”
Levine taught at Fresno State from 1958 to 1992. After retirement, he remained vitally connected to the University’s Creative Writing Program, visiting classes, attending and giving readings and teaching mini-courses.
For information on how community members can help create and sustain the Philip Levine Reading Room, call Moon-ja Yunouye at 559.278.8341. For media information, call Jefferson Beavers at 559.278.1569.