Philip Levine Reading Room announced at Fresno State


There will be a special place honoring Philip Levine in Fresno State’s Madden Library.

The Philip Levine Reading Room was announced Saturday, Feb. 20, at a special event honoring the former Fresno State professor and United States poet laureate. Many of Levine’s former students and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to the poet.

In a 2011 interview before being named the U.S. poet laureate, he said the single greatest reward was the writing of the stuff itself: the poetry.

“And the second biggest one had to do with my students, mainly here at Fresno State, “ he said. “I had some amazing students here who went on to wonderful careers as poets. Many became very good friends of mine.”

The reading room will be built on the library’s second floor overlooking the university’s Peace Garden. More than 2,000 books donated by Levine’s family will anchor the room’s collection.

Levine died in 2015. The Pulitzer Prize-winner served as the national poet laureate in 2011-12. He taught at Fresno State from 1958-92 and remained active in retirement with the university’s creative writing program.

The program plans to hold readings and workshops in the space when it is completed.

Peter McDonald, the dean of Library Services, said in a statement the Henry 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.”