Carl Phillips, professor of English in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry for his collection “Wild is the Wind: Poems” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018).
Awarded annually, the Book Prizes are committed to literary excellence, championing new voices and celebrating the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers. The award ceremony, held April 12, also served as a prologue to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the nation’s largest literary and cultural festival.
In “Wild Is the Wind,” Phillips reflects on love as depicted in the jazz standard for which the book is named — restless and reckless but also desired for its potential to bring stability. In the process, he pitches estrangement against communion, examines the past as history versus the past as memory, and reflects on the past’s capacity both to teach and to mislead us. The results are “haunting and contemplative” (Publishers Weekly) and explore “the ambiguities of what is valuable about a life” (Los Angeles Review of Books).