Campus Box 1122
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
Poetry writing; African-American literature; Twentieth-century poetry
Professor Phillips is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Silverchest (2013) and Double Shadow (2011), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other books include Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, a translation of Sophocles’s Philoctetes (2004), and Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (2004). A finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, his honors include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Award, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets, to which he was elected a Chancellor in 2006. In addition to contemporary poetry and the writing of it, his academic interests include classical philology, translation, and the history of prosody in English.
What we shall not perhaps get over, we
do get past, until – innocent,
with art for once
not in mind, How did I get here,
we ask one day, our gaze
relinquishing one space for the next
in which, not far from where
in the uncut grass we're sitting
four men arc the unsaid
between them with the thrown
shoes of horses, luck briefly as a thing
of heft made to shape through
air a path invisible, but there ...
Because we are flesh, because
who doesn't, some way, require touch,
it is the unsubstantial – that which can
neither know touch nor be known
by it – that most bewilders,
even if the four men at
play, if asked, presumably,
would not say so, any more
than would the fifth man, busy
mowing the field's far
edge, behind me,
his slow, relentless pace promising
long hours before the sorrow
of seeing him go and,
later still, the sorrow
going, until eventually the difficulty
only is this: there was some.
From Carl Phillips, The Tether, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).
This poem first appeared in The Nation.
- L13 541: Craft of Poetry
- L13 522: Poetry Workshop