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Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of Heaven (2015) and The Ground (2012). He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in New York City.

Heaven

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2016 Shortlist
United States

Judges’ Citation

Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ second collection of poems pushes off from his debut, The Ground, by looking out and off toward the many Heavens we find in our midst: the heaven of the natural world, large and silent and sublime; the heaven of ecstatic language and lyric possibility; the heavens of memory and of love; the flawed, finite, deeply familiar heaven of 21st Century.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ second collection of poems pushes off from his debut, The Ground, by looking out and off toward the many Heavens we find in our midst: the heaven of the natural world, large and silent and sublime; the heaven of ecstatic language and lyric possibility; the heavens of memory and of love; the flawed, finite, deeply familiar heaven of 21st Century. In poems of exquisite craft, rich allusion and nimble intelligence, Phillips creates a gathering ground for glimmers of Homer and Shakespeare, Frost and Stevens. But he casts a wide net, also making surprising use of sources as unlikely as the Wu Tang Clan and Mel Gibson, and as chastening as the recent preponderance of shootings that have left unarmed blacks dead and their assailants deemed ‘Not Guilty.’ This is a book that manages to make something indelible of what we’ve wrought and lost, and of what we are still desperate to decipher – the truth we’ll only know from learning to ‘squint in its direction and poke.