Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Poems

Overview

Robert Phillips is a prominent member of America's neglected "transition generation" of poets—those born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His work has been included in many anthologies and textbooks. He gathers for his seventh full-length collection his best poems of the past six years, from dramatic monologues to personal lyrics. While most are free-verse, there are also sonnets, a villanelle, a ballade, an abecedarian, found poems, prose poems, haiku, and clerihews.

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Overview

Robert Phillips is a prominent member of America's neglected "transition generation" of poets—those born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His work has been included in many anthologies and textbooks. He gathers for his seventh full-length collection his best poems of the past six years, from dramatic monologues to personal lyrics. While most are free-verse, there are also sonnets, a villanelle, a ballade, an abecedarian, found poems, prose poems, haiku, and clerihews.

Divided into three sections—"Fire and Obsession," "A Little Light Music," and "Rituals"—this new volume reveals Phillips's playfulness and good humor, his high intelligence, and his musicality.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Review of Texas Books

An originally and consistently entertaining poet. Robert Phillips's plainspoken eloquence provides a tonic for readers who find that much contemporary poetry has little to say to them.

Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Whether admiring Phillips's exceptional craftsmanship, enjoying the humor that infiltrates even his most serious poems, or warming to the deep humaneness of his spirit, a reader feels at home in this collection, and in good company.

Houston Chronicle
A high-spirited mix of playfulness, memory and social observation.

— Fritz Lanham

Hudson Review

Phillips is a skillful poet of occasions, imitations, and pastiche, all offered up with a serious yet insouciant expression of 'I'll try this, too.'

Sun-Sentinel
Clear, direct, accessible, and frequently very funny, Robert Phillips' poems should be better known.

— Peter Schmitt

Houston Chronicle - Fritz Lanham

A high-spirited mix of playfulness, memory and social observation.

Sun-Sentinel - Peter Schmitt

Clear, direct, accessible, and frequently very funny, Robert Phillips' poems should be better known.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801883781
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2006
  • Series: Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

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 Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

I Fire & obsession
The ocean 3
Ghost story 5
The grown-up train 6
An empty suit 7
Expulsion 9
The snow queen 10
Life force 12
Homage : Neruda 13
Ode to a banana
After reading The book of questions
Variations on Vallejo's "Black stone on a white stone" 16
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire 17
Two twentieth-century American monologues 19
Ted Bundy, stalker rapist
Texas cheerleader murder plot
Famous last words 23
Endymion and Selene 24
My funny valentine 25
Two for Max Eberts 27
Blue jay
Trees in springtime
San Miguel de Allende 28
II A little light music
Memory 35
Life and limb 36
Headlines 38
Miss Perfecto 39
Response to Barbara Walters' most fatuous question 41
Soliloquy of the Ethiopian eunuch 43
III Rituals
Sunday rituals 49
Two for Mister Roscoe 51
"Arsh potatoes"
Grandfather's cars
To a schoolteacher now dead 54
Viewing 56
Two sonnets 57
Her life at seven
Chance encounter
Days of 1964 59
The ruined man 61
Bucolics 63
Mop and nest
Wisteria and fence
Insomnia 65
Two adaptations from Red Pine 66
Waiting for a friend
Parting from a friend on a night in spring
Christopher Isherwood 67
Vita 69
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