“After / the afterlife, there’s an afterlife.”In Silverchest, his twelfth book, Carl Phillips considers how our fears, excesses, and the damage we cause both to others and to ourselves, intentional and not, can lead not only to a kind of wisdom but also to renewal, maybe even joy, if we’re willing to commit fully to a life in which “I love you / means what, exactly?” In poems shot through with his signature mix of eros, restless energy, and moral scrutiny, Phillips argues for the particular courage it takes to look at the self squarely—not with judgment but with understanding—and extend that self more honestly toward others. It’s a risk, there’s a lot to lose, but if it’s true that “we’ll drown anyway—why not / in color?”
“I have a candidate for the author of the most interesting contemporary English sentences and it is not primarily a prose writer: the American poet Carl Phillips . . . Phillip's style has been remarkably consistent from volume to volume, upsetting our easy assumption that great artists evolve from phase to phase.”—Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker“Phillips is a great poet of morality and desire and the complicated relationship between the two.”—Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail“Silverchest displays the gifts of an exceptional talent with palpable staying power. The lyrics often manage to combine a disarming speaker, elegant syntax and startling titles that index powerful acts of mind.”—Maggie Galehouse, The Houston Chronicle“In these gorgeous, meticulously constructed lyric poems, nature and music—motifs Phillips returns to often—take on the role of correlatives, evoking the mind's own cadence, its certainty and thaw.”—Publishers Weekly
Carl Phillips is the author of eleven previous books of poetry, including Speak Low (FSG, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Double Shadow (FSG, 2011), also a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.