Graceful and resonant new work by a lyric poet at the height of his skill.
As I understand it, I could
call him. Though it would help,
it is not required that I give him
a name first. Also, nothing
says he stops, then, or must turn.
--from "The Figure, the Boundary, the Light"
In the art of falconry, during training the tether between the gloved fist and the raptor's anklets is gradually lengthened and eventually unnecessary. In these new lyric poems, Carl Phillips considers the substance of connection -- between lover and beloved, mind and body, talon and perch -- and ts the cable of mutual trust between soaring figure and shadowed ground.
Contemporary literature can perhaps claim no poetry more clearly allegorical than that of Carl Phillips, whose four collections have turned frequently to nature, myth, and history for illustration; still, readers know the primary attributes of his work to be its physicality, grace, and disarming honesty about desire and faith. In The Tether, his fifth book, Phillips's characteristically cascading poetic line is leaner and more dramatic than ever."
Society of Midland Authors Book Awards - Winner
Praise for The Tether
“[Phillips writes] batter-my-heart provocations worthy of John Donne [that are] subdued to a still, mature reverence.” —The New Yorker
“[These] poems have a rare sensuality, and they successfully marry a brooding and philosophical outlook with high lyricism and musicality.” —Kate Moos, Ruminator Review
“The music here is an admittedly cerebral one, and the poems are enjoyable, like late James, as much for the length and intricacy of their twistings as for the actual content. . . . Much of [this content] is passionately flourished. Many poems concern desire, the ways it may be satisfied, deferred, or disappointed: 'The hunt-was good; the kill, / less so, as you'd said to / expect. I don't listen, always.' The metaphor of the hunt is one of Phillips's favorites, and he doesn't shy away from either the brutality or the tenderness it calls for. The empathy of Phillips's work, especially when set off against his remarkably austere language, is terrific and moving. The strength of these poems is their sinuosity of thought. In the best cases, that hard thought flowers into feeling and makes the poems memorable.” —Kirkus Reviews