The English department and the Creative Writing Program are delighted to welcome Patrick Phillips as our new colleague. He has published in poetry, translation and non-fiction. He holds a PhD from NYU in seventeenth century literature and an MFA from the Creative Writing Program in Maryland. He has had a Fulbright for his translation from Danish poetry and a Guggenheim for his other writing.
Best known as a poet, the chief innovation of his three volumes is not so much a style as a speaker. In Chattahoochee (2004) Boy (2008) and Elegy for a Broken Machine (2015) the poems move forward in a restrained vernacular. The distinguished poet Philip Levine once commented “Phillips always sounds like someone speaking in a trustworthy American voice”. His third book, Elegy for a Broken Machine, was shortlisted for the 2015 National Book award and the citation complimented its “paradoxical, striking vitality”.
In September of 2016 Patrick Phillips published Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America. It is a harrowing nonfiction account of the region of Georgia where he grew up, Forsyth County. The book’s disciplined and innovative journey through the tragedy of racial violence and the fallibility of local recall has won it widespread praises. To cite just a few of these, it was one of the Smithsonian’s Top Ten History Books of 2016, an Editor's Choice for the New York Times Book Review, one of the Top Books of 2016 in The New York Times and a notable book of 2016 for the American Library Association.
As well as this book, which is a major achievement in narration, and his distinction as a poet, Patrick Phillips brings a deep commitment as a teacher to our community. It is rooted in his remarkable braiding of scholarly and creative initiatives and we look forward to his presence offering new opportunities to all our students.