Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry.

Author:Johnson, Karma
Position:Brief Article - Book Review
 
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Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry by Carl Phillips Graywolf Press, June 2004 $15, ISBN 1-555-97401-5

Coin of the Realm often leads like a treatise an spirituality, as is suggested by the title's placement of Life before Art. Phillips's approach is solidly based in his background as a classicist in the European tradition and peppered with his analysis of black poetics, the transcendent rhetoric of Gwendolyn Brooks. and the dilemmas of artistic risk. Equally resonant throughout the collection are themes of trust and betrayal, originality and conformity.

Phillips casts a critical net over subjects ms disparate as The Book of Psalms. the 17th-century poet George Herbert, and Black Puts Movement icon Amiri Baraka, carefully dissecting both the philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings of each author's work. It is perhaps in his writing on the Psalms. and in a sole interview included in this volume, that Phillips lays bare his most cogent motive for the assembly of this particular set of essays on lifo and art. Speaking to poet...

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