Phillip B. Williams is the author of Mutiny (Penguin Random House, 2021), and Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016), winner of the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a 2017 Lambda Literary award. He is also the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc., 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013).
His forthcoming collection Mutiny is a rebellion, a subversion, an onslaught. In poems that rebuke classical mythos and western canonical figures, and embrace Afro-Diasporanfolk and spiritual imagery, Williams conjures the hell of being erased, exploited, and ill-imagined and then, through a force and generosity of vision, propels himself into life, selfhood, and a path forward. Intimate, bold, and sonically mesmerizing, Mutiny addresses loneliness, desire, doubt, memory, and the borderline between beauty and tragedy.
In his debut collection Thief in the Interior, Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one’s ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.
Of Thief in the Interior, Los Angeles Book Review noted, “The seasoned reader of poetry will be impressed that Thief in the Interior is Phillip B. Williams’s first collection. His control of the line is masterful, and his syntax eschews, for the most part, direct or simple delivery of language, creating a formal and solemn tone that scores the emotional pitches of the book.” Author Adrian Matejka notes, “Williams’s poems embody balance: uncompromising and magnetic, surprising and intuitive. Need is everywhere―in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave.”
Williams’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and others. He is the recipient of a 2020 creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2017 Whiting Award, and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He serves as a faculty member at Bennington College and Randolph College low-res MFA.
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