Riding Westward

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What happens when the world as we've known it becomes divided, when the mind becomes less able--or less willing--to distinguish reality from what is desired? In Riding Westward, Carl Phillips wields his celebrated gifts for syntax and imagery that are unmistakably his own--speculative, athletic, immediate--as he confronts moral crisis. What is the difference, he asks, between good and evil, cruelty and instruction, risk and trust? Against the backdrop of the natural world, Phillips pitches the restlessness of ...
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2006 Hardcover New () The singer turning thisand that way, as if watching the song itself--the words to the song--leave him, as he lets each go, the wind carrying most of it, ... some of the words, falling, settling into instead that larger darkness, where the smaller darknesses that our lives were lie softly down."--from "Riding Westward" What happens when the world as we've known it becomes divided, when the mind becomes less able--or less willing--to distinguish reality from what is desired? In Riding Westward, Read more Show Less

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Riding Westward: Poems

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Overview

What happens when the world as we've known it becomes divided, when the mind becomes less able--or less willing--to distinguish reality from what is desired? In Riding Westward, Carl Phillips wields his celebrated gifts for syntax and imagery that are unmistakably his own--speculative, athletic, immediate--as he confronts moral crisis. What is the difference, he asks, between good and evil, cruelty and instruction, risk and trust? Against the backdrop of the natural world, Phillips pitches the restlessness of what it means to be human, as he at once deepens and extends a meditation on that space where the forces of will and imagination collide with sexual and moral conduct.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The prolific, always articulate Phillips attained late-'90s acclaim for a series of books (among them Pastoral and From the Devotions) whose intricate clauses and mythic topics followed the passions and trials of physical embodiment and erotic (especially same-sex) love. In recent years, he has sought clearer, more various styles in which to take on the same concerns: never more than in this eighth collection, which proposes "cruelty as a means of understanding... love's conditions-not clear,/ but clearer," and wants us to admit, "that's/ how we like it, I'll break your heart, break mine." Short sentences mixed with long, arresting confessions mixed with hard explanations, make parts of the love poems and antilove poems as memorable as ever. Phillips's command of syntax, while changing favored forms, remains, as does his acquaintance with the knots and contradictions of desire: "Trust me," one poem asks, "the way one animal trusts another." (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
National Book Award finalist Phillips (English, African & Afro-American studies, Washington Univ., St. Louis; The Rest of Love) is a master stylist; it is often impossible to predict where his sentence will turn on itself and in which direction it will push readers (e.g., "Wasn't it/ spring again, the smell of it lifting like music, and then/ like any man lifting himself, wordlessly, slowly up again/ from beneath another."). In the most poignant moments, the reader gets a sense of observing a still life in motion (e.g., "I watched you sleeping. All was stillness. I watched/ your eyes keep not unshutting. The rest would happen/ once you'd opened them The rest you know."). This statement on human foreknowledge is accompanied by the aftertaste of memory, whose details are physically real, at our hands' grasp, but are at the same time highly meditative and subliminal (e.g., "The trees, I mean. Figs, and lemons. I forget the dream that I'd beneath them, only that I'd one"). This is the rare sort of "difficult" poetry that is also quite readable. For while Phillips's ideas are complex, at his best, his images ground us. Recommended for all poetry collections.-Ilya Kaminsky, San Diego State Univ. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374250034
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/18/2006
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Phillips is the author of seven previous books of poems, including The Rest of Love, a National Book Award finalist; Rock Harbor; and The Tether, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. The recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, he teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Table of Contents

Erasure 3
Bright world 4
Torn sash 5
Falling 6
Sea glass 7
The way back 8
Radiance versus ordinary light 10
The smell of hay 11
Ocean 12
Brocade 13
Stardust 16
The lower marshes 17
Island 18
Affliction 19
Bow down 21
A summer 25
Swear-to-God 26
After 27
To a legend 28
Close your eyes 30
Shall want for nothing 31
In waves 32
Plumage 34
The messenger 35
Turning west 36
Chivalry 37
Truce 38
Lost, but for a few still-bright details 39
Forecast 41
The cure 42
Native 44
Deepest, where the water looks more green 46
Translation 47
Break of day 48
Armed, luminous 50
Riding westward 52
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