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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
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Graywolf Press
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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
Terry
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
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C
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."
Sandra
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.
Rory
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Favorites: "Association in Poetry", interview with Nick Flynn, "Coin of the Realm."
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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
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More about Carl Phillips