Reconnaissance: Poems (Paperback)
“I’ve always thought of them, of the poems, as being very private investigations and negotiations of a space that I can’t quite figure out—they’re where I wrestle with what I both resist and am drawn to.”
I can't stop reading and rereading Phillips's poems. They are carefully considered but always unsettled, restlessly looking to reveal, move deeper, open something unknown. My favorite poems ask questions and Phillips's linger in my head for weeks even when I'm not reading him.
A powerful, inventive collection from one of America's most respected poets
. . .There’s
a trembling inside the both of us,
there’s a trembling, inside us both
The territory of Reconnaissance is one where morals threaten to become merely “what the light falls through,” “suffering [seems] in fact for nothing,” and maybe “all we do is all we can do.” In the face of this, Carl Phillips, reconsidering and unraveling what we think we know, maps out the contours of a world in revision, where truth lies captured at one moment and at the next goes free, transformed. These are poems of searing beauty, lit by hope and shadowed by it, from a poet whose work “reinstates the possibility of finding meaning in a world that is forever ready to revoke the sources of meaning in our lives” (Jonathan Farmer, Slate).
About the Author
Carl Phillips is the author of several books of poetry, including Silverchest, a finalist for the International Griffin Prize, and Double Shadow, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the author of The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination. Phillips teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.
Jeff Clark was born in southern California in 1971. The author of three books of poems--The Little Door Slides Back, Arab Rab, and Sun on 6--he lives in Oakland.
Praise for Reconnaissance
“Carl Phillips creates smooth currents of language that begin in one place, subtly shift direction and then shift again . . . The sounds and rhythms of these poems are gorgeous, and Phillips, whose awards include the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, isn't afraid to ask unsettling questions.” —Elizabeth Lund, The Washington Post
“A characteristically bold and beautiful collection from this brilliant lyricist.” —Booklist
“Phillips, who has always wrestled gracefully with human longing, confronted solitude in his most recent collection, Silverchest, an LJ Best Poetry Book. Now he confronts a world that's constantly redefining itself, faster and faster, a world where the truth can't be neatly pinned. Never mind that 'There's a trembling inside the both of us, there's a trembling, inside us both,' these are still finally poems alight with hope.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Praise for Carl Phillips
“I have a candidate for the author of the most interesting contemporary English sentences, and he is not primarily a prose writer: the American poet Carl Phillips . . . Like Emily Dickinson, Phillips is always taking in the minute metamorphoses of his surroundings (Dickinson's ‘Slant of light, / Winter Afternoons') as a way of measuring his own ‘internal difference, / Where the Meanings, are.' . . . But he is not a loner; he is, instead, a poet of erotic life as scored for solo contemplation.” —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker