Carl Phillips and the ‘Art of Restlessness’

March 25 program kicks off humanities series

Distinguished poet Carl Phillips, professor of English and of African and African American Studies, both in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, will deliver the first of three talks on poetry at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in Umrath Lounge on the Danforth Campus, as part of the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities (IPH) in Arts & Sciences and WUSTL’s Assembly Series.

Based on the theme of “The Art of Restlessness: On Poetry and Making,” Phillips’ talks are free and open to the public. The March 25th program will focus on “Poetry and Resistance.” Subsequent lectures are scheduled at noon on Thursday, March 27, in McMillan Café, and at noon on Tuesday, April 1, in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

The author of nine books of poetry and recipient of many top literary awards, Phillips was twice nominated for the National Book Award, first for “From the Devotions” in 1998 and again in 2004 for “The Rest of Love: Poems.” A faculty member in the university’s Writing Program, he was inducted into the Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2004. In 2006, he won the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. His recent collections are titled “Riding Westward” (2006) and “Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986 – 2006” (2007). In addition to poetry, Phillips also has published essays and has translated Sophocles.

A common thread running throughout his work is the struggle to understand emotions that make us flawed, but wholly human, such as loss, love, desire and regret.

“If I want people to carry away any single thought or message from my poetry, it’s that it’s not only okay to be flawed and struggling – it just is a fact of life on earth,” Phillips said in a 2006 profile for the Washington University Magazine. “I try to present poems as opportunities to discover something about self and the world, not as complicated puzzles…to solve.”

Phillips joined WUSTL in 1993 and has guest-taught at Harvard University and the Iowa Writers Workshop. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in classics from Harvard, he holds two master’s degrees, one in Latin and classical humanities from the University of Massachusetts, and another in creative writing from Boston University.

Together with the Assembly Series and the Center for the Humanities, the IPH—a rigorous, interdisciplinary program for intellectually ambitious students—sponsors an annual celebration of the humanities with a series of three lectures delivered by a distinguished humanities scholar or artist.

For more information, visit, or call 314-935-4620. To learn more about The Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities, contact 314-935-4200.