SilverchestPoems of Excess and Fear


By Carl Phillips
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.00, 60 pages

Carl Phillips is a well-known and respected poet in America.  A rarity, since many well-known poets generally come from other parts of the world.  Generally his books of poetry are interesting, inviting and interesting to read. Unfortunately this latest collection just falls flat, and never really gets off the ground.

Like many other poets he explores the world of fear, excess, and what we are like as a human being; the problem is that he comes off feeling like a pretender. These poems are rife with fear, loathing, excess, and human follies. Almost a condition of the human soul, without the ideal of reaching something greater, that it can never be anything more than this.

The poems largely flow one into another, with little way to tell the difference between individual poems.  At times they seem to ramble, and because of this the book is generally a bore, and takes a lot of effort read. The book is not that thick, it is fairly slim even for a book of poetry. It is almost as if Carl Phillips is not giving his best effort, he has put out quite a few poetry books; they all can’t be the best.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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