Poet Carl Phillips, professor of English and of African & African American studies, both in Arts & Sciences, has won the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, given in memory of James Ingram Merrill.
The fellowship is awarded annually to a poet for distinguished poetic achievement at mid-career and provides a stipend of $25,000. The academy’s board of chancellors, a body of 15 eminent poets, elected Phillips.
Phillips, 47, read from his work at the Academy of American Poets Awards Ceremony & Reading Nov. 8 in New York.
“These are indelible poems, and the voice in them entirely his own,” Academy Chancellor Ellen Bryant Voigt wrote of Phillips’ work.
Classical prose writers such as Thucydides, Cicero and Tacitus, as well as the Greek tragedians, were early influences on his work.
Phillips writes that they taught him “a great deal about compression when conveying psychological and emotional crisis.”
Phillips admits that he “came very late to modern/contemporary poetry” — he was in his 30s when he began to publish his work. Since then, his collections have been recognized for their emotional engagement with the timeless subjects of desire, loss and myth.
He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Riding Westward (2006) and Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, forthcoming in spring 2007. His collection The Rest of Love (2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Other books include Rock Harbor (2002); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pastoral (2000), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; From the Devotions (1998), finalist for the National Book Award; Cortege (1995), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and In the Blood (1992), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize.
Phillips, who also teaches in The Writing Program in the Department of English, is the author of a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Art and Life of Poetry (2004). He translated Sophocles’ Philoctetes (Oxford University Press, 2003).
His honors include an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.
Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Greek and Latin in 1981 from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Latin and classical humanities in 1983 from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree in creative writing in 1993 from Boston University.