From the devotions: poems

Front Cover
Graywolf Press, 1998 - Poetry - 81 pages
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With From the Devotions, Carl Phillips takes us even further into that dangerous space he has already made his own, where body and soul--ever restless--come explosively together. Speaking to a balance between decorum and pain, he offers here a devotional poetry that argues for faith, even without the comforting gods or the organized structures of revealed truth. Neither sage nor saint nor prophet, the poet is the listener, the mourner, the one who has some access to the maddening quarters of human consciousness, the wry Sibyl. From the Devotions is deeply felt, highly intelligent, and unsentimental, and cements Phillips's reputation as a poet of enormous talent and depth.

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.

National Book Award Finalist
Winner of a 2001 Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature
Named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly
Finalist for a GLBT Book Award from the American Library Association

The poems in From the Devotions take readers into a dangerous and mysterious terrain where body and soul, both ever restless, come explosively together.

In his own brilliant voice, equally marked by decorum and pain, Phillips offers a devotional poetry that argues for faith, even without the comforting gods or organized structures of revealed truth. Neither sage nor saint nor prophet, this acclaimed contemporary American poet is the listener, the mourner, the one who has some access to the maddening quarters of human consciousness, the wry Sibyl. From the Devotions is deeply felt, highly intelligent, and unsentimental—and so offers further proof of Phillips's enormous poetic talent and depth.
"These graceful, magical lyrics should confirm Phillips's well-deserved reputation for exploring the spaces, moods, and metamorphoses of desire. Gathering energy from forms like the alba, and a witty classicism apparent in his 'Renderings' of Anacreontic fragments, the poet arranges in his characteristically small, precious stanzas the gently persistent longings of the body, as in 'The Sybil,' where he self-consciously contributes a 'third gate' through which dreams come: 'the flesh, what / cannot help but / fail, come bone // come shine.' Other poems pay homage to domesticity, and are populated with animals—deer, horses, bees, the luna moth—whose needs, hopes, and hungers are cleverly mapped onto the poet's own. Witness this from 'On Restraint': 'One would like nothing / more than to forget it all: how beautiful he was then, like a man, not a horse. / —but very like a horse, how he ran.' The last section moves from the gods of the living to the remains of the body in death, where Borges, Dante, Isaiah, and even fellow riders on 'The Flume' at an amusement park provide haunting devices, especially in the bitter, astounding title poem, through which flesh becomes ash."—Boston Review

"Phillips shapes a compelling lyric truth from the partiality of devotion, from the devastating limits of physical and emotional relations, and from love."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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From the Devotions: Poems

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Phillips's reputation has been growing, and this third collection confirms him as one of the best poets writing in America today. In quintessentially lyric verse, he investigates love in all its ... Read full review

Contents

The Living
1
Arcadia
15
On Morals 31
After 45
Come 59
From the Devotions 77
Copyright

About the author (1998)

Carl Phillips is the author of In the Blood, which won the Morse Poetry Prize, and Cortège, a Finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Lambda Literary Award. The recipient of fellowships and prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets, Phillips is associate professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University, St. Louis, where he also directs the creative writing program.

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