Beneath The Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike: A Poem by Emilia Phillips


“In her latest collection, the fiercely gifted Emilia Phillips offers a breviary of film noir kōans (‘public cases’) that interrogate, singly and collectively, what John Keats called the ‘vale of soul-making.’ Each key—or peep-hole—shaped lyric presents a riddle, a ‘scene,’ in and across which a fluid cast of characters (the vagrant, a child, the citizen, the lover, the diplomat, the mannequin, the archaeologist, the parade, the neighbors), including a host of animals (owl, snake, dog, cat, mice), appear and reappear in relation to recurring sites of possibility, most of them empty or dangerously inhabited—a metal chair, the crematory, a dairy, a heap of snow, a discarded tire, musical instruments, mouths, an abandoned house, a frozen pond. By playing with the discourse and tropes of clues, proofs, and evidence, Phillips remains true to the ineffability that haunts the crux of the body/soul mystery.”—Lisa Russ Spaar

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Emilia Phillips is the author of Signaletics (University of Akron Press, 2013) and Groundspeed (University of Akron Press, 2016) and two chapbooks including Bestiary of Gall (Sundress Publications, 2013). Her poetry appears in AGNI, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. She’s the recipient of the 2012 Poetry Prize from The Journal, 2nd Place in Narrative’s 2012 30 Below Contest, and fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, US Poets in Mexico, and Vermont Studio Center. She is the 2013- 2014 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, the prose editor for 32 Poems, and a staff member at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Beneath The Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike: A Poem by Emilia Phillips