Old Song

Patrick Phillips

Praised be friends. Praise enemies.Praise the dark above.Praise hangovers. Praise cigarettes.The vulture and the dove.Praise all music. Praise the harp.And the amplifier's buzz.Praise the days we'd live forever.And loneliness. And love.Praise even death, or at least the dying,who taught us how to live.Praise you, someday, reading this.Praise light. Praise the wind.

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Marion Ettlinger

Patrick Phillips is the author of four books of poems, including Song of the Closing Doors, which was published by Knopf in 2022, and Elegy for a Broken Machine, which was finalist for the National Book Award. His first work of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, was published by W. W. Norton in 2016 and named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Smithsonian. Phillips is currently a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars, as well as a Carnegie Foundation Fellow. He lives in San Francisco and teaches writing and literature at Stanford.

New York, New York

From New York City subway encounters to memories of pickup basketball games on Fourth Street, a love letter to the past, and to all the relationships and memories our homeplaces hold, from the National Book Award finalist.

“I will consider a slice of pizza,” opens Phillips’s poem “Jubilate Civitas.” “For rare among pleasures in Gotham, it is both / exquisite and blessedly cheap.” Thus, as throughout this collection, he celebrates a simple pleasure that “in a time of deceit . . . is honest and upright, steadfast and good”; even the busted buttons we press when waiting to cross the street make for elegy in a collection that brings us this poet at his burnished best.

Song of the Closing Doors reckons with love, loss, and the space between the two that we call life. It’s a deep comfort to rock next to Patrick Phillips in these poignant, sleek poems that travel through grief’s tunnels. Clear a space for these blues and warm yourself in their everlasting light.”
—Tomás Q. Morín, author of Machete

“These poems are so damn good. Few contemporary poets can write an elegy half as well as Phillips. And nobody does it any better.”
—John Murillo, author of Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry and Up Jump the Boogie

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