Synopses & Reviews
"This gorgeous debut is a 'debut' in chronology only. . . . Need is everywhere—in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave."—Adrian Matejka
Phillip B. Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one's ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.
While two women kissed in their house I watched
a jury hide bullets in a Black boy's body, all rigor mortis
and bass line. I landed in Chicago, a lead box.
The airport showed CNN and a Black mother
could not be heard over gate changes, bistro jazz.
Subtitles gathered and faded like gossip
while I made my mouth vacant in my hometown.
I carried a fever of insufferable noise that skin,
illuminated by a hoodie, held close, a forced kin.
Phillip B. Williams has authored two chapbooks: Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc.) and Burn (YesYes Books). A Cave Canem graduate, he received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Poetry, the Southern Review, West Branch , and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing as a Chancellor's Graduate Fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of Vinyl Poetry.
Williams (Burn) editor of Vinyl Poetry and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship recipient adroitly constructs a flowing personal narrative through such broader cultural issues as racism religion love and homophobia. Speaking in a lyrically diverse delivery and with emotions crackling within its formal constraints Williams’s collection acts as a labyrinth of self spun webs and a lament for the bleak pattern of police brutality inflicted on black bodies. The bodies of young black boys are sacrificed; the cocktail of dire circumstance and systemic inheritances are made even crueler in the daylight. In “Agenda” Williams transforms the hoodie into a symbol of unspoken yet fierce brotherhood while “The Force of Aperture” exposes the American Dream as “white writhing over black the American aesthetic.” Reading the collection’s third section leaves bruises as Williams’s poetic I filters the speaker’s visceral reactions through various degrees of vulnerability. The bluntness and heat of such confessions produce a strange allure in the musicality of the lines and in the beating hearts behind the nameless characters profiled. More than a straightforward work of protest poetry this book becomes a multitude of distinct voices into the collective sound of a larger movement. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Inspired by a young man's brutal murder in Brooklyn, these poems bring forth raw racial dialogue essential to today's culture.
About the Author
Phillip B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois native and the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc. 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013). He is a Cave Canem graduate and received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-, Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, The Southern Review, West Branch and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing as a Chancellors Graduate Fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry.