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Books  >>  Art

Carl Phillips

Silverchest

Carl Phillips Silverchest
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Biographical note:

Carl Phillips is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Speak Low (FSG, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Double Shadow (FSG, 2011), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Main description:

A bracingly beautiful new collection from the author of Double Shadow

“After the afterlife, there’s an afterlife.”

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?”

Review quote:

Praise for Silverchest

“I have a candidate for the author of the most interesting contemporary English sentences and it is not primarily a prose writer: the American poet Carl Phillips . . . Phillip's style has been remarkably consistent from volume to volume, upsetting our easy assumption that great artists evolve from phase to phase.” —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

“Phillips is a great poet of morality and desire and the complicated relationship between the two.” —Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail

Silverchest displays the gifts of an exceptional talent with palpable staying power. The lyrics often manage to combine a disarming speaker, elegant syntax and startling titles that index powerful acts of mind.” —Joseph Campana, The Houston Chronicle

“In these gorgeous, meticulously constructed lyric poems, nature and music—motifs Phillips returns to often—take on the role of correlatives, evoking the mind's own cadence, its certainty and thaw.” Publishers Weekly


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

“[In Double Shadow] the poems themselves are like double shadows, pliable things wrought from the masterful artist, a man many consider to be the reckoning force in contemporary American poetry . . . 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

“There is pain in isolation and pain in connectedness, in love. There is also pain in thinking, remembering, and wanting. This is the condition Phillips registers like a seismograph. But he has createda means to describe what remains otherwise indescribable . . . [Double Shadow is] a remarkably beautiful collection; many of the poems are as unforgettable as they are ineffable.” —Stan Sanvel Rubin, Water-Stone Review


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