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BOOKS >>> Alex Phillips // UNKINDNESS
I like to catch a book’s tone right off the bat which can happen when words come like these: All those flautists /putting on baby shoes //Onto their babies, duh! Or these: our lives are perfection/are they not? A two-toned way of saying and seeing; here we are given unkindness while we take a wild ride through a vertical poetry’s inescapable story, a vertical verbal ladder in between whose rungs there will be places for us to live. When Phillips writes Can I be honest/Not if I want you to like me, he’s agitating for trust and truth. Here’s a new book from Crash Dome’s poet, be careful in there.
The voice in Alex Phillips’s Unkindness lurches toward us, addled. It skips like a scratched record. It probes and burrows always forward, sometimes HUMANITY pleading—oh orange give up your greatness to me. Reading these poems can be a bit like flying a plane that CALAMITY is beginning to rattle. I mean really rattle. And nothing you do helps any. But the flight, I want to tell you, is REDEMPTION thrilling.
—Michael Earl Craig
Can it be I’m a more raw human after reading Alex Phillips’s work? In the stuttering, unfinished beauty of Unkindness, I am completely absorbed. It’s the human-as-animal; terrifying, direct. This book is a canon of brilliant, brilliant poetry.
Alex Phillips is a Senior Lecturer and Interim Assistant Provost at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since the fall of 2013, he has been a faculty-in-residence in the Creative Expressions learning community. His poetry and translations have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Open City, and jubilat, and in Ted Kooser’s newspaper column American Life in Poetry. His book-length poem, CRASH DOME, is published by Factory Hollow Press.