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Cortège: Poems Paperback – March 25, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The poems of James Merrill and Paul Monette come to mind as one reads Phillips's (In the Blood, LJ 10/15/92) second collection. Here is a poet who writes with the same masterly elegance, often enhanced by tight, three-line stanzas. References to Ovid, Dante, or Renaissance painting are as lyrical as his frequent descriptions of shadows and birds. "And now,/the candle blooms gorgeously away/from his hand?/and the light had made/blameless all over/the body of him." The word gorgeously here points to the care with which each image is sought. Friends, lovers, and, by extension, readers are addressed with a parallel tenderness. Explicit sexual imagery is inserted so delicately that it's impossible to take offence. Written by a poet who also happens to be an African American, these are some of the most sensitive homoerotic poems to be found in contemporary literature. Recommended for all poetry collections.?Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
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Review

“Carl Phillips is a poet of eros, but for him eros isn't simply sex, or even sexual desire sublimated into social ritual, or art, or any of the overdetermined ploys by which all of us, men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, attempt to close the distance between ourselves and others. Rather, eros is the never ending struggle, as he puts it, 'to fill a space in so there's no room left for awhile for what he surely calls a suffering inside him.' In the intricacies of thinking and feeling enacted in every poem of Cortège, no feeling ever quite escapes its opposite--the joy of fulfilled desire is infused with the isolation it has momentarily eclipsed, the heaven of intimacy only heightens 'how it feels to be stranded.' Cortège is a book that has been packed in salt: the durable salt of artistic making, and the bitter salt of longing. Few other poets writing today can track so well, so unforgettably, the estranging spaces in the heart of love, the perils of beauty or the beauty of peril.” ―Alan Shapiro

“Out so much farther than our present pieties, attentive to no social or sentimental voice, only passion's (so often ruinous, defiant of upshot), it is not in every case, every poem, that Carl Phillips triumphs over my timidity. As with Sappho and Pasolini, though, traces of the winged god are everywhere unmistakable, even when this new poet has kicked them over: it is a sacred entail his harsh graces make. I for one am an awed (if lacerated) heir.” ―Richard Howard

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (March 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555972306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555972301
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Carl Philips is a wonderful poet and this collection is among his best. His language is precise and yet magical. His understanding of topics such as desire and aging are truly amazing. His poem "The Hustler Speaks of Places" is a beautiful homage to Langston Hughes.
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