Patrick Phillips

Award-winning Poet & Translator
National Book Award Finalist
Nonfiction Author

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• An Evening with Patrick Phillips

Biography

“Some would say that Patrick Phillips should leave well enough alone and keep quiet….But his voice is too honest, too brave, and too brilliant to be silenced.” —Tayari Jones

“Patrick Phillips reminds us that love calls us to the things of this world in all its beauty, sorrow, comedy, and vanishing.”—NBA Judges’ Citation

“There are poets of domestic life and there are poets of the sublime, and Patrick Phillips is both.” —Tom Sleigh

Poet Patrick Phillips was born in 1970 in Atlanta and raised in the Appalachian foothills of north Georgia. In his first book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W. W. Norton, 2016), he delves into the issues of race relations and breaks the century-long silence of his home town—telling the story from 1912, when three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl—revealing deeply embedded secrets that continue to shape all of America in the twenty-first century. A review in The Library Journal states: “In gripping and devastating detail, writer and poet Phillips uncovers a history of lynching, racial violence, terrorism, and white supremacy….There are few heroes in this accounting, which stands as a sobering reminder that the racial fantasies and fears that have ruled so much of our history only continue to haunt the present.” A harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America, former United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey declares Blood At the Root to be “A powerful, timely and necessary reckoning with the past.”

Through his poems, Phillips tells stories of earlier generations of his white, working-class family’s life in Birmingham, Alabama; he grapples with race relations, the complex dynamics of family relationships, parenthood, and mortality. Elegy for a Broken Machine (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), Phillips’ most recent poetry book—a stunning collection of elegies that bear witness to the small beauties and inevitable losses of our transient life—was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry. He is the author of two earlier poetry collections, Boy, which navigates the course of the male experience, and particularly young fatherhood, and Chattahoochee, winner of the 2005 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

Phillips is also the translator of When We Leave Each Other: Selected Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt (Open Letter, 2013), a book he began when he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Translation Studies, and which went on to win the Translation Prize of the American Scandinavian Foundation. A recent Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, his work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and The Nation, and his honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America. Phillips teaches writing and literature at Stanford.

Short Bio

Patrick Phillips is the author of a book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W. W. Norton 2016), and three poetry collections. His most recent, Elegy for a Broken Machine was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry; his two earlier collections are Boy and Chattahoochee. He is also the translator of When We Leave Each Other: Selected Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Phillips’ work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and The Nation, and his honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America. Phillips teaches writing and literature at Stanford.

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