Carl Phillips is the author of nine previous books of poems, including "Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems, 1986-2006";" Riding Westward"; and "The Rest of Love," a National Book Award finalist. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. Phillips here creates a shadowy inner landscape, one where the field is the heart, and the heart itself has a beautifully yet often treacherously flawed darkness that each of us--believing in the possibility of light--seeks to penetrate.
Examining how to fill and fulfill the life granted us--how to realize the self entirely, and in time--these rhythmically sequenced meditations circle the predicaments of our longing against the formal backdrop of pastoral tradition. How do we balance control and abandonment when making poetry? Or when making a life with another person? How do we reconcile fleshly desire and spiritual intention? Tightly coherent and emotionally nuanced, "Pastoral" enlarges--and also defines--Phillips's already impressive poetic landscape.
"Desire--erotic and spiritual--courses passionately through this collection: the strict shape desire inflicts on the chaos desire lets loose. But Phillips addresses not only passion, but art, history, nature: all, in his hands, are forms of wanting. His rhythms are beautifully and powerfully various--sinewy, majestic, casual, adamant--as he modulates from honesty to honesty like no one else; [this book] both trusts and beautifully second-guesses appearances with an accuracy that moves and amazes."--Jorie Graham
"In this brilliant fourth collection, foreboding fields and roaming creatures [both] echo the sorrow, alienation, and eros of bodily existence."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)