The Ground

The Ground: Poems. Farrar. May 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9780374167080. $23. POETRY
Writing about place is like writing about love: everyone has done it, but few can do it well. The task is made all the more daunting when the place in question is New York City, surely one of the most revisited locales in the poetic canon. Phillips (English, Stony Brook Univ.; When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness) is one of the blessed few who writes about a place as if he were writing about a lover. He does not present readers with a romanticized Big Apple or a postmodern vision of a dystopian megalopolis; instead, he affords the beautiful and the ugly equal attention, knowing that an intimate connection to place requires one to honor all aspects of it. One of this collection's most remarkable facets is Phillips's treatment of New York as a setting rather than a subject. Using a surreal line infused with music, he makes New York a force of nature, as impossible to ignore as the weather.
VERDICT This debut poetry collection will appeal to a range of readers, including current and former New Yorkers, who will feel at home in its pages.

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