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Patrick Phillips

Patrick Phillips’s first book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (Norton, 2016), was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and SmithsonianElegy for a Broken Machine (Knopf, 2015) was a finalist for the National Book Award. A past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Phillips is also the author of Song of the Closing Doors (Knopf, 2022), Chattahoochee (Arkansas UP, 2004), and Boy (Georgia UP/VQR, 2008). His work has appeared in many publications, including the New York TimesPoetry, Ploughshares, the New England Review, and the Nation. His awards include a Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Pushcart Prize, a Carnegie Foundation Fellowship, and the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry from VQR. Phillips teaches writing and literature at Stanford.


Old Song

Summer 2011 | Poetry

Praised be friends. Praise enemies.
Praise the dark above.
Praise hangovers. Praise cigarettes.
The vulture and the dove.


Spring 2010 | Poetry

Like two wrestlers etched
around some ancient urn,

we’d lace our hands, then wrench
each other’s wrists back


  I can see the grout between the bricks and hear the Hot Wheel clatter as it fishtails, and then flips. The stove like some experiment: clouds of sweet steam belching each time my mother lifts the stock pot’s sweaty lid. My sister’s [...]


  My heart swelled inexplicably when I turned the key and caught the scent of something lovely, coming from the kitchen. I dropped my loaded bag and clowned a heart-attack when my son came running from his room and gripped my thumbs, a [...]


Spring 2006 | Poetry

  Whatever it was     that made the Reverend         Barker stoop that way, it meant no matter     how much he screamed       &nb [...]


Winter 2006 | Poetry

It is the year the sky reminds us some mistakes cannot be mended. The year, dime-eyed and listless, a fever came to kill him. Imperceptibly the windows creep towards the floor, the black bay whitening and widening with the squall. It is the night [...]

Blue Ridge Bestiary

Spring 2004 | Poetry

Business never slows for the air's ubiquitous
morticians, their spiraling so effortless

we might admit its beauty, if we didn't know
how eagerly, in those ridiculous black boas,

Twelve Views of My Father

Spring 2004 | Poetry

1 Grown so young she has a name, my father's grandmother, Cleavy Rowe, settles into the portrait's ancient rocking chair, having never told a living soul about her boy who died as she, for the first time, holds him. 2 Look, seal-slick and laughi [...]