Quiver of Arrows Selected Poems, 1986-2006

Carl Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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Quiver of Arrows is a generous gathering from Carl Phillips’s work that showcases the twenty-year evolution of one of America’s most distinctive—and one of poetry’s most essential—contemporary voices. Hailed from the beginning of his career for a poetry provocative in its candor, uncompromising in its inquiry, and at once rigorous and innovative in its attention to craft, Phillips has in the course of eight critically acclaimed collections generated a sustained meditation on the restless and ever-shifting myth of human identity. Desire and loss, mastery and subjugation, belief and doubt, sex, animal instinct, human reason: these are among the lenses through which Phillips examines what it means to be that most bewildering, irresolvable conundrum, a human being in the world. Phillips’s sensibility as he questions morality, psychology, and our notions of responsibility is as startlingly original as the poems themselves, whose exacting standards for the line’s flexibility and whose argument for a versatile, more muscular syntax bring to American poetry “something not unlike a new musical scale” (The Miami Herald). Quiver of Arrows is the record of a powerful vision that, in its illumination of the human condition, has established itself as a necessary step toward our understanding of who we are in the twenty-first century.


Praise for Quiver of Arrows

"Quiver of Arrows gathers work from Carl Phillips's twenty-year career and showcases his idiosyncratic voice and distinctive style. Phillips, winner of the 2006 Academy Fellowship and a newly elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, has published eight collections of poetry, all to critical acclaim. This book gives a generous sampling of the work that has made him a major poet who seems only to get better with age . . . Phillips is a poet of questioning, searching for right words, breaking mid-thought to revise, all to approach some understanding of what it means to be a human being."—American Poet

"Phillips is a scholar and translator of classical Greek and a writer of syntactically complex, desire-drenched love poems that subtly, and beautifully, reinvent classical tropes and forms. Phillips has published eight books of his own poetry: this selection pares down a rapidly expanding oeuvre to its sharp essentials. Phillips's first three books . . . show him working out his relation to the tradition—from the Famous Black Poet to Yeats (I recognized/ something more/ than swan to Sappho (My tongue still remembers)—and to AIDS and its aftermath: I watched as each boat fell to flame:/ Vincent and Matthew and, last, what bore your name. Pastoral (2000) finds Phillips confidently making the tercet into a representation of the lover's body, a practice that has culminated in four subsequent books rapidly published in the '00s—including The Tether and The Rest of Love—that contain extraordinary and strange examples of Phillips's trademark writing about the bonds and bounds of sex and couplehood: —Singing inside the mirror,/ to no one, to// itself, the body folding, and/ unfolding, as if map/ then shroud, its song."—Publishers Weekly

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Carl Phillips is the author of eight previous books of poems, including The Rest of Love, a National Book Award finalist; Rock Harbor; and The Tether, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.
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  • Carl Phillips

  • 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.

  • Carl Phillips Doug Macomber