Song of the Closing Doors
From New York City subway encounters to memories of pickup basketball games on Fourth Street, a love letter to the past, and to all the relationships and memories our homeplaces hold, from the National Book Award finalist.
“I will consider a slice of pizza,” opens Phillips’s poem “Jubilate Civitas.” “For rare among pleasures in Gotham, it is both / exquisite and blessedly cheap.” Thus, as throughout this collection, he celebrates a simple pleasure that “in a time of deceit . . . is honest and upright, steadfast and good”; even the busted buttons we press when waiting to cross the street make for elegy in a collection that brings us this poet at his burnished best.
Phillips finds his love of a complex, vibrant city extends to his dearest people—he writes for his friend Paul, dying of cancer; for his wife’s stormy eyes when they fight; for the baby boy he once woke at night to feed and change. All these and more pass through Phillips’s elegant yet colloquial lines, in a book that shines with love and honesty on every page. As he writes, “If you’re reading this / we were once friends.”
About the Author
Patrick Phillips is the author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, which was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Smithsonian, and received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He is also the author of three poetry collections, including Elegy for a Broken Machine, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Chattahoochee, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. Phillips has recevied fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Copenhagen, and the Lyric Poetry Award of the Poetry Society of America. He teaches writing and literature at Stanford.