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The Five Minute Book Review: Wild is the Wind by Carl Phillips

– Both things, I think. But less the hesitation of many hands

Touching the stunned dethronement of the master’s body, than

Their way of touching it again; again. Each time, more surely.

– A poem entitled Courtship from Wild is the Wind by Carl Phillips


So, what’s this one about?

Wild is the Wind is a collection of 35 poems that offers a compelling contemplation of the uncertainty of love. Just like the song after which the collection is named, these poems give a melodic and soulful depiction of the many facets of love and phases of a relationship.


Who’s it by?

Wild is the Wind is the work of Carl Phillips, an American writer and poet as well as Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Carl has been referred to as “one of America’s most original, influential, and productive of lyric poets.” He is a classically trained poet, having earned a BA from Harvard, an MAT from the University of Massachusetts, and an MA from Boston University. He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, including Reconnaissance, winner of the PEN Poetry Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Born in Everett, Washington, to a military family, he and his parents moved to several places in the United States. He witnessed various cultures throughout the country. Carl uses his experience as well as his education in his writing, referring to classical literature, art, and music.

Why should I read it?

In the run up to St Valentine’s Day, Wild in the Wind is the perfect book for people searching for love as well as those navigating their way through it. Carl uses images of the sea, navigation, compasses and charts throughout the poems, guiding the reader through his emotional landscape in an attempt, perhaps, to help them navigate their own. Throughout the book Carl’s emotional exploration is evoked both by the nautical imagery and the twisting syntax. Take this extract from the poem Brothers in Arms as an example:


The sea was one thing, once; the field another. Either way,
something got crossed, or didn’t. Who’s to say, about
happiness? Whatever country, I mean, where inconceivable
was a word like any other lies far behind me now. I’ve
learned to spare what’s failing, if it can keep what’s living
alive still, maybe just
                                       a while longer.

The collection is a sophisticated yet accessible book of poetry. In our fast-swiping Tinder age, what Carl offers his readers is a patient meditation on the cost and consequences of choosing love. Moreover, this collection of poems offers insights but also an opportunity for self-reflection in relation to the poems core themes. Indeed, as Carl describes it, the collection is about:

 looking back as much as looking forward, knowing that to travel forward always also means carrying all of our previous selves along with us somehow.

When is it out?

Wild is the Wind was released earlier this week, Tuesday 23rd January 2018.

Where can I get a copy?

Wild is the Wind is available on Amazon and in all good bookshops.

Let us know if you get a copy, but more importantly, be sure to let us know what you think of the book!


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    The Five Minute Book Review: Wild is the Wind by Carl Phillips