Award-winning essayist and poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips presents a bracing renewal of civic poetry in Living Weapon.
. . . and we’d do this again
And again and again, without ever
Knowing we were the weapon ourselves,
Stronger than steel, story, and hydrogen.
— from "Even Homer Nods"
A revelation, a shoring up, a transposition: Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s Living Weapon is a love song to the imagination, a new blade of light honed in on our political moment. A winged man plummets from the troposphere; four NYPD officers enter a cellphone store; concrete sidewalks hang overhead. Here, in his third collection of poems, Phillips offers us ruminations on violins and violence, on hatred, on turning forty-three, even on the end of existence itself. Living Weapon reveals to us the limitations of our vocabulary, that our platitudes are not enough for the brutal times in which we find ourselves. But still, our lives go on, and these are poems of survival as much as they are an indictment. Couched in language both wry and ample, Living Weapon is a piercing addition from a “virtuoso poetic voice” (Granta).
Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of the books of poems Heaven and The Ground, as well as the essay collections The Circuit and When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness. His many awards include a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Osterweil Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, and the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.
Gregory Pardlo is the author of Digest, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Digest was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award, named a standout book by the Academy of American Poets, a New York Times best poetry book of the year, and a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and INDIEFAB Book of the Year. Gregory Pardlo's other awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His newest book isthe memoir Air Traffic. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids.