Carl Phillips is the author of eleven previous books of poetry, including Speak Low (FSG, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Double Shadow (FSG, 2011), also a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. (Author photo by Dinty W. Moore)
In Silverchest, his twelfth book, Carl Phillips considers how our fears and excesses, the damage we cause both to others and to ourselves, intentional and not, can lead not only to a kind of wisdom but also to renewal, maybe even joy, if we’re willing to commit fully to a life in which “I love you / means what, exactly?” In poems shot through with his signature mix of eros, restless energy, and moral scrutiny, Phillips argues for the particular courage it takes to look at the self squarely—not with judgment but with understanding—and extend that self more honestly toward others. It’s a risk, there’s a lot to lose, but if it’s true that “we’ll drown anyway—why not / in color?”
Praise for Carl Phillips:
"The gorgeous, syntactically intricate poems of Carl Phillips strike me as always haunted to some extent by an autumnal, adumbrated sensibility, a subtlety of consciousness in intimate argument with its own tangential forays and asides into volition, rhetoric, and refusal. His is a ‘knowing’ poised on the glinting knife-edge verge of disclosure, of revelation."
—Lisa Russ Spaar, The Chronicle of Higher Education Arts and Academe
"During a time when much of American poetry is criticized for being poetry lite, Phillips can move us in a single poem from complete joy to utter heartbreak . . . The poems . . . hold a mystical, chiseled weight."
—D. Gilson, The Rumpus
Farrar, Straus and Giroux