by Patrick R. Phillips
Kevin Davies once said Patrick R. Phillips is “our Larry Eigner.” Comparisons only approximate, but the location in the terrain of poets is apt. Phillips’ we plié echoes Eigner’s status as outsider, the experimenter with love, language and place, nature-fed that in turn feeds poets more in the center of experiment. In similar locale, Lorine Neidecker in her spare nature, her Wisconsin, mop in hand, is in these poems, too.
Saying so is less to situate than to attempt to understand the apparatus of Phillips’ situations. we plié focuses in part on a personal economy, the terror of unbidden, hence half-managed cultural shape-shifting that shunts and stuns us daily. To locate we plié with respect to other poets’ terrain alone miscues the multiple intents of Phillips’ aesthetic.
and their subsequent directions”
Conceived as a series in five sets of twenty and written over 12 years, we plié enfolds a structure of a recurrent life very much in “the weighted west of I.” The result, a totem of living and a cycle of crisis, love, joining and parting that matters, and disappears.
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“Exquisitely chiseled lines form a tapestry of words both defining and denying contexts: the poignancy of possibility hung up by overlays of hurtles and hurts. Patrick R. Phillips’s we plié is work of consummate care, with folds as deep as the language we speak.” – Charles Bernstein
Patrick R. Phillips is also the author of Ruin, a book of poetry. He lives in the woods on Martha’s Vineyard with his wife, Laurel Wilkinson, works at a local newspaper, the Martha’s Vineyard Times and is the director of an arts and social change nonprofit,
Arts & Ideas.
Publication date: October 2015