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Today's Poet: Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips was born (1974) and raised in New York City. He has a BA from Swarthmore College and a PhD from Brown University. He has published two award-winning full length collections of poetry: The Ground (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012), which received the Whiting Award, the PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry, and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Poetry, and Heaven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015) which was long-listed for the National Book Award. His collection of critical essays, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness (Dalkey Archive Press) was published in 2010. Additionally, he he written widely about sports, especially basketball and soccer, for publications such as The New Yorker and the Paris Review. He is also a translator, one who laments the "stultifying monolingualism" of American poetry. His own work often incorporates phrases from other languages. He has taught at Columbia University, Harvard, Princeton, and at SUNY-Stony Brook. Currently, he splits his time between New York and Barcelona.
In an interview published by PEN America, he said, "Being a human being has informed my sense of writing. For I don't find the skill to be in writing or even in reading. The real skill is in being a human being, weighing that, contemplating its arc and depths, and then making it all for better or worse sing."
This week's featured poem is "Kingdom Come," from Heaven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015).
Not knowing the difference between Heaven
And Paradise, he called them both Heaven.
So when he shrugged at the thought of a god
Blanched in the lights of implausible heights,
Thumbing the armrests of a throne, that was
Heaven. And when he stared out at the sea,
Feeling familiar to himself at last,
He called that Heaven, too. And nothing changed
About either Paradise or Heaven
For it: Paradise retained its earthen
Glamour; and Heaven, because it can't stand
For anything on its own, like the color
Of rice or a bomb, was happy to play
Along, was happy just to be happy
For once, and not an excuse for mayhem.