University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Philip Levine
Letters to
Stephen Berg

1961 - 1972


Manuscript Collection Number: 188
Accessioned: Purchase, June 1987
Extent: 78 items (.3 linear ft.)
Content: Letters and poems
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: July 1995 by Anita A. Wellner

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Philip Levine

American poet and educator Philip Levine, born January 10, 1928, in Detroit, Michigan, was educated at Wayne State University (A.B., 1950) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A., 1957).

Teaching English and poetry, Levine served on the faculties of the University of Iowa (1955-1957), California State University (1958-), Tufts University (1981-), the University of Cincinnati (1976), the National University of Australia (1978), Columbia University (1978, 1981, 1984), New York University (1984, 1991), and Brown University (1985). He has also taught at Squaw Valley Writers Community, Bread Loaf, and Midnight Sun.

Since his first collection of poems, On the Edge, was published by Stone Wall Press in 1961, Philip Levine has written more than twenty books of poetry. Several of his books have received awards, including the National Book Award for Poetry in 1991 for What Work Is (1991). His later publications are The Simple Truth: Poems (1994) and The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography (1994).

Stephen Berg

Born August 2, 1934, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, poet and educator Stephen Berg attended the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and the University of Indiana, prior to receiving a B.A. from the State University of Iowa in 1959. Since 1963 Stephen Berg has served on the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia, as well as the Philadelphia College of Art.

Berg's poems were first published in Berg-Goodman-Mezey by New Ventures Press in 1957. Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms (1969), Berg's widely acclaimed anthology which he edited with Robert Mezey, includes work by Philip Levine and is discussed in some of the letters in this collection. He has also served as co-editor of the American Poetry Review. New Selected Poems was published by Copper Canyon Press in 1992.


Evory, Ann and Linda Metzger (eds.) Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 8. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1983. p. 58.

Lesniak, James G. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 37. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. pp. 281-284.

Scope and Content Note

This collection of seventy-one letters written by Philip Levine to Stephen Berg spans the approximate dates 1961-1972; most of the letters are undated. The collection also includes seven poems, six written by Levine and one by an unidentified writer (possibly Stephen Berg).

In his letters, Philip Levine discussed a wide spectrum of personal and professional issues. Levine wrote intimately of his family life, vacations, travels in Europe, and their mutual friends. He filled his letters with details of his creative writing process, notice of his successes and failures with publishers regarding his poetry, his observations on the work of other poets (Allen Ginsberg, William Everson, Robert Bly, and Adrienne Rich), and news of his teaching career.

Levine also expressed his appreciation for Berg's poetry and critiqued specific poems written by Berg. Frequently he offered Berg encouragement of his writing and personal life.

Philip Levine updated Berg on his progress with writing the poems that were published in his collections, Not This Pig, Pili's Wall, and They Feed They Lion. He also discussed selections of his own poems for Berg's anthology, Naked Poetry.

In addition to the seven poems found in folder eight, Levine included two of his poems, "A Hand Wrote That" and "Telephone Voices," in the body of two letters found in folder three.

Related Collections:

Ms 99 Kenneth Patchen letter to Stephen Berg (F185) (Stephen Berg)

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

     Series I.  Philip Levine Letters to Stephen Berg, 1961-1972

F1   1961-1972
     6 items, 13pp
     1961 Aug 24         TLS  2pp
     1967 Apr 26         ALS  2pp
     1969 Jul 18         ALS  2pp
     [1969]    Jul 21         ALS  2pp
     1969 Aug 4          ALS  2pp
     1972 Jan 6          ALS  2pp

F2   n.d.
     13 items, 15pp
     n.d.           TLS  1p
     n.y. Oct 3          TLS  1p
     n.d.           TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
                    TLS  2pp
     n.y. Nov 22         TLS  1p
     n.d.           TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
                    ALS  2pp
                    TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
     n.y. 25 Feb         TLS  1p
          10 Feb         TLS  1p

     Series I.  Philip Levine Letters to Stephen Berg (cont’d)

F3   n.d.
     15 items, 22pp
     n.d.           ALS  1p
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  2pp
                    TLS  2pp
          Note: with “A Hand Wrote That”
                    TLS  2pp
          Note: with “Telephone Voices”
     n.y. Jul 3          TLS  1p
     n.d.           TLS  2pp
                    TLS  2pp
     n.y. Jul 19         TLS  1p
     n.d.           TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
                    TLS  1p
     n.y. Sep 2          ALS  2pp
     n.d.           ALS  2pp

F4   n.d.
     10 items, 18pp
     n.y.      Feb 21         ALS  2pp
          Apr 16         ALS  3pp
          May 31    ALS  3pp
     n.d.           ALS  1p
                    ALS  2pp
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  3pp

     Series I.  Philip Levine Letters to Stephen Berg (cont’d)

F5   n.d.
     10 items, 19pp
     n.d.           ALS  3pp
     n.y. Aug 31         ALS  1p
     n.d.           ALS  1p
                    ALS  2pp
                    ALS  1p
                    ALS  2pp
                    ALS  2pp
                    ALS  2pp
                    ALS  4pp
     n.y. May 18    ALS  1p

F6   n.d.
     8 items, 17pp
     n.y. Jun 12         ALS  1p
          Aug 21         ALS  2pp
     n.d.           ALS  3pp
                    ALS  2pp
     n.y. Sep 15         ALS  2pp
          Apr 24         ALS  2pp
          Aug 4          ALS  3pp
          Jan 5          ALS  2pp

F7   [n.d.]
     9 items, 19pp
     n.y. Aug 15         ALS  4pp
     n.d.           ALS  3pp
     n.y. May 19    ALS  1p
          Feb 10         ALS  2pp
          Sep 5          ALS  2pp
          May 19    ALS  2pp
          Jul 26         ALS  2pp
          Aug 3          ALS  2pp
          Aug 12         ALS  1p

     Series II.  Poems written by Philip Levine, n.d.
     The poem "After the Rain," which bears revisions by Levine,
     may have been written by Stephen Berg.

F8   Poems, n.d.

     "After the Rain"
     Ts(x) with autograph notes and revisions by Levine, 1p

     "After the Storm"
     TsS(x) with autograph notes, 2pp

     "The Cartridges"
     TsS(x) with autograph revisions, 1p
     "The Everlasting Sunday"
     TsS(x) with autograph revisions and note on the verso, 1p

     "The Lost Angel"
     TsS(x) with autograph note

     TsS(x) with autograph revisions, 1p

     "The Second Angel"
     TsS(x) with autograph revisions, 1p

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