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Boy: Poems (The VQR Poetry Ser.) Paperback – March 15, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This second collection from Kate Tufts Award–winner Phillips (Chattahoochee) is haunted by memories, could-have-beens and what-ifs, as when an infant son dies instead of recovering from a fever, or never even makes it through birth. Phillips is consumed with his vulnerability as a parent and finds himself lost in the cyclical recurrences of time: What happened never happened on its own/ the future and the past collide. Fatherhood, of course, also recalls mixed memories of being a son. Phillips enacts the anxiety and grief of the knowledge that there is no escape from death, no matter how much we may love and protect someone. It will be the past/ and we'll live there together the final poem begins; it ends: It will be the past/ and it will last forever. (Apr.)
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In sparse, deft, and elegant language, Phillips’s remarkable second book of poems, Boy, places the poet midway between the lives of his parents and the lives of his children, where 'the endless dream / of childhood' has given way to the reality that 'whole human beings / sprang from us.' From this vantage point, he celebrates the wonderful simultaneity of experience that allows him to be, all at once, father, son, man, and boy.(Michael Collier author of Dark Wild Realm)
There are poets of domestic life and there are poets of the sublime, and Patrick Phillips is both. What is fascinating and deeply original in this conjunction is how Phillips unabashed lyricism conjures both the consolations of fatherhood and married love, and what Tomas Transtromer calls the deep―the dizzying sense of psychological and metaphysical gulfs plunging away beneath us at the very moment that our private lives seem most fulfilled, stable, even invulnerable to harm. Subtle of ear, heart, and mind, these poems in their intensities are grave, soulful, and always, always deeply pleasurable to read.(Tom Sleigh author of Space Walk)
Patrick Phillips’s beautiful new collection, Boy, is a kind of nostos as the poems circle and return, skillfully, to the house of memory, the place the past dwells. And yet, the past here isn't simply remembered but is palpably present, colliding, brought back in a more perfect form both celebratory and elegiac. In language at once taut and supple, spare and sinewy, Phillips gives us a collection full of longing and wisdom and a version of heaven in which all that we love and all our losses are returned to us, where ‘It will be the past. And it will last forever.'(Natasha Trethewey recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard)
This second collection from Kate Tufts Award-winner Phillips . . . is haunted by memories, could-have-beens and what-ifs. . . . Phillips is consumed with his vulnerability as a parent and finds himself lost in the cyclical recurrences of time.(Publishers Weekly (starred review))
For me this is a real discovery. In many of the poems―‘Nathaniel’ or ‘Matinee’ or ‘Star Quilt’―the language is quiet and accurate, the details precise, and the emotions―though never insisted upon―are there, unquestionable and complex. The art here is in hiding the art, and he is that rare poet with the tact and chops to accomplish that. What a find!(Philip Levine Ploughshares)