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The Ground: Poems

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  13 reviews
A masterful debut from a powerfully original poetic voice

A poignant and terse vision of New York City unfolds in Rowan Ricardo Phillips's debut book of poetry. A work of rare beauty and grace, The Ground is an entire world, drawn and revealed through contemplation of the post-9/11 landscape. With musicality and precision of thought, Phillips's poems limn the troubadour's
Paperback, 96 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 22nd 2012)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These poems are deceptive in their apparent simplicity, full of rhythm and rhyme and playful, intelligent language. They're suffused with a sense of longing, but that longing is hopeful rather than hopeless. What's being explored here feels like basic humanity, especially as earth-dwellers tied to our planet (the sun and moon and stars are used frequently to allude to strivings for transcendence or the attempt to divine the holy in the natural world), but also, the facts of life in a modern city ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just beautiful lines, musical, with the rhythm of a good boxer. Poems you can inhabit.
Clifford Thompson
Poems with wonderful imagery, dazzling phrases, a sense of the tragic and yet great humor. Wonderful work.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-riddance
The Ground is absolute trash. Phillips's poems come in three flavours: repetitive & adolescent, self-aggrandizing, and allusion to the classics. Most of the time he writes about death and NYC by night, with a few other things thrown in.

Too many of his poems use repetition ineffectively. It gets very bland and annoying.
Exhibit A: from "Song of Fulton and Gold" (p.4):

The eye seeking home
has to lower

lower. The eye seeking
home has to


[repeat this verbatim for the next three
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was deep and sticky. I felt like I was slowly sinking into the deepest parts of oceans as I progressed through this book, or maybe like a penny dropped into a jar of honey. No doubt that Ricardo Phillips is brilliant. He is academic and a poet of poets.

On the back cover, Lawrence Joseph writes, “Phillips’s acute sense of the poet as an outsider - one who writes from what is essentially a position of critique - is an integral part of The Ground. The book is grounded not only in the
Shawn  Aebi
A bit uneven, but I connected with enough of these offerings that I would be curious about new work. Fair amount of greek mythology references here that wizzed by me. Still, a learned, and occasionally clever collection.
The 44 poems in this volume are a mixture of city-poems and myth-poems; characters and allusions (Orpheus and Eurydice, Dante) recur, along with images (two different poems include the image of "a tree half aflame" inside the speaker). Phillips's language is one of gorgeous rhythms, whether the syntax is straightforward or more complicated: "Tonight I touched the tattooed skin of the building I was born in," the speaker of "Tonight," the opening poem, says. In "Tabula Rasa," a poem that's all ...more
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bubbling with New York city-love and city-night-sky-love, with a beguiling mix of high and hip diction and music. And excitingly smart.
Nicolas Brannon
An excellent debut. Standouts include "Heralds of Delicioso Coco Helado," "Mappa Mundi" and the closing poem.
Some of these were wonderful.
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Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of Heaven (2015) and The Ground( 2012). He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in New York City.