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Spinach Days

Poems by Robert Phillips

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"Three cheers for Robert Phillips. We need more poets like him."—Robert Richman, New York Times

Robert Phillips is a prominent figure in what has been called America's neglected "transition generation"—poets born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Spinach Days is his sixth full-length collection, following his critically acclaimed Breakdown Lane (Johns Hopkins, 1994), named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. In content and in its various use of forms, Spinach Days is Phillips' most innovative book yet. There are long narratives and short lyrics, villanelles and somonkas, haiku…

"Three cheers for Robert Phillips. We need more poets like him."—Robert Richman, New York Times

Robert Phillips is a prominent figure in what has been called America's neglected "transition generation"—poets born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Spinach Days is his sixth full-length collection, following his critically acclaimed Breakdown Lane (Johns Hopkins, 1994), named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. In content and in its various use of forms, Spinach Days is Phillips' most innovative book yet. There are long narratives and short lyrics, villanelles and somonkas, haiku and found poems, free verse and eclogues, on subjects ranging from St. Francis to the Holocaust, from Jung's concept of the anima to a particular bit of American folklore on the gangster John Dillinger. Throughout, the poet's memory is the cohesive force, mixing events of childhood with adulthood, rural life with big-city life, love with loss, and humorous events with tragic ones. Phillips reveals himself to be a master of closure, and he writes as one who delights in the liveliness of language and wordplay.

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Spinach Days

Poems by Robert Phillips

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Reviews

Reviews

The long title poem of Robert Phillips' sixth collection wryly evokes his days as a broke intern at an advertising agency in 1950's Manhattan... Phillips has a chatty, mellow voice that is appealingly textured... Throughout, Phillips's unaffected ease with formalism proves his greatest strength. A section of poems concerning love and sex possesses a gleeful streak of malice. He also works crisply in traditional forms ranging from villanelles to eclogues.

Spinach Days is poetry at its best—plain spoken and yet melodic, formal without reading like limericks, intelligent without being bombastic... It's the kind of book that makes the reader dog-ear the pages... Phillips is a poet of rare talent whose works will be read long after most of his contemporaries have faded away.

These poems are a delight to read for their unpretentious craft and their flight from the orthodoxy of the obscure and the extreme. Phillips uses form with an ease that belies his artfulness and makes plain statements that belie the depth and complexity of the emotions he captures.

There is a wry, self-deprecating intimacy and charm in Robert Phillips' poems that are not like anyone else writing today.

Phillips' playful title prepares us for reminiscence, and there are many poems of personal archaeology here, prodigious in their concreteness and their believable inventories. Through all of the poems moves Mr. Phillips' inimitable voice—easy-going, spare, engaging, and inclined to comedy. Some of the richness of Spinach Days comes of the equable telling of poignant or bitter things; it is like hearing depth charges in a calm sea.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
112
ISBN
9780801877513
Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips is a John and Rebecca Moores Professor at the University of Houston and literary executor of the American poets Delmore Schwartz and Karl Shapiro. His poetry has won an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Creative Artists' Public Service Award from New York State, and a Pushcart Prize, among others. His collection Breakdown Lane was named a Notable...