If You Asked me About Emilia Philips

Emilia Philips is a rare American poet capable of maintaining a magnetic emotional control over her poetry. The tone she commands is singularly hers. Where other modern poetry might tend to go on a tangent and get away from the speaker, to be reined in later, or elliptically eschewed for another image or subject, Phillips tightens her grip and weaves her subject through the tangential material. Emilia Phillips attends to current and pressing, personal and global conditions with a voice that is witty and grim, wistful and post-traumatic. The speaker’s ever-present personality shortens the distance between the reader and the stark, sometimes accusatory, language.

In the cage match between Alice Notley and Carolyn Kizer, Emilia Philips is the referee. Whether directly or peripherally influenced by the two feminist poets, Phillip’s work hones the most effective aspects of each to build a uniquely sharp voice that can’t help but to resonate on the same level of advocacy.

Like Kizer, she is at times sarcastically challenging of the status quo, while at other times objectively embracing of unattractive ineffable realities. She does not shy from powerful and exact language that runs aggressively counter to other more tender moments, constructing a narrative line that is visceral and inevitable, while and at the same time nostalgic and pensive. The poems are, at once, deeply personal and outwardly analytical as in Alice Notley’s work. Her speaker will often inhale the world and exhale close, intrapersonal, details. Emilia Phillips’ poems, line by line, insist that the reader breathe with her. In her poem, Age of Beauty, she writes:

My grief, once a black-winged

beetle. How I find every excuse to indulge it, like a child
given quarters.

~ Emilia Phillips is a poet and essayist. She is the author of three books of poetry from the University of Akron Press – Signaletics, Groundspeed, and Empty Clip. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Click here to Visit The Poet’s Site.

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