Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry” as Want to Read:
Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
The Award-winning poet Carl Phillips grapples with issues of authority, identity, and beauty in these sensual and deeply intelligent essays

The "coin of the realm" is, classically, the currency that for any culture most holds value. In art, as in life, the poet Carl Phillips argues, that currency includes beauty, risk, and authority-values of meaning and complexity that all
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Graywolf Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Coin of the Realm, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Coin of the Realm

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Gary McDowell
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-ones
The essay on the prose poem is good but far from the last word.
Jee Koh
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading Carl Phillips' collection of essays, Coin of the Realm, I see more clearly what draws me to his poetry. His poems aim at seduction of the reader, through beauty that comes from authority that, in turn, comes, from athletic thinking. There are fine essays here on individual poets, such as George Herbert and T. S. Eliot, and on individual poems, such as George Oppen's "Psalm," Gwendolyn Brooks's "A light and diplomatic bird," and Sylvia Plath's "Winter Trees." There is also a long su ...more
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
The essays in this strong collection range from autobiography to close reading to anthologizing meditations. To my mind, the best essays are the most focused: an essay on the Psalms, another on George Herbert, a third on T. S. Eliot, and the quick, close readings of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks and Sylvia Plath. Some pieces take up interesting topics (the use of myth and fable, association in poetry, the prose poem) and guide the reader on a tour of a half dozen or so relevant poems, offering brisk ...more
Heather June Gibbons
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good so far, though I'm somewhat disappointed by the essay on associative poetry. He makes a strong distinction between the associative poem and the surreal poem by saying, essentially, that the surreal poem will always refuse meaning whereas the associative poem will always yield meaning-- what?

But the brief "The Case for Beauty" is persuasive, the essay on myth and fable in poetry is fascinating in the way he identifies various intertextual approaches by way of some wonderful examples. And I
Jul 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Some really lovely stuff here, especially in the book's first section. My favorite essays were less focused on Phillip's own work/the close reading of other poems and more interested in bigger questions of risk, association, audience, etc. Particularly good: "The Case for Beauty," "Myth and Fable," "No Rapture," "Sea Level," "Boon and Burden."
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In this series of essays, Phillips not only explicates a number of poems, but critiques their particular value, both for the era in which they are written, and for all time. Along the way, he gently critiques the state of the art in contemporary times. In my estimation, he is quite fair, and infinitely compassionate.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Favorites: "Association in Poetry", interview with Nick Flynn, "Coin of the Realm."
Mandy E
rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2008
rated it it was amazing
Apr 28, 2012
Katie Berta
rated it really liked it
Jun 06, 2011
rated it really liked it
Jul 31, 2007
Rambling Reader
rated it really liked it
Aug 12, 2014
Brian Short
rated it it was amazing
Nov 04, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Feb 21, 2008
Gina Franco
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Oct 17, 2010
rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Apr 08, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 10, 2007
Brian Teare
rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2012
rated it liked it
Jan 27, 2014
Stokely Klasovsky
rated it liked it
Sep 21, 2010
William Reichard
rated it liked it
Apr 24, 2011
rated it really liked it
May 23, 2008
Doralee Brooks
rated it it was amazing
May 20, 2012
Cave Canem
rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Nov 19, 2007
rated it really liked it
Sep 15, 2008
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Carl Phillips is the highly acclaimed author of 10 collections of poetry.

He was born in 1959 to an Air Force family, who moved regularly throughout his childhood, until finally settling in his high-school years at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Boston University and taught high-school Latin for eight years.

His first
More about Carl Phillips