Born in 1959, Carl Phillips is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Double Shadow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (2007) and Riding Westward (2006). His collection The Rest of Love (2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
His other books include: Rock Harbor (2002); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pastoral (2000), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; From the Devotions (1998), finalist for the National Book Award; Cortége (1995), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and In the Blood (1992), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize.
His work has been anthologized in The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (2003), edited by J. D. McClatchy, Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology (2002), edited by Helen Vendler, New Voices: University and College Prizes, 1989-1998 (2002), Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time (1988), Contemporary American Poetry (2001), and The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000). His poems have also been chosen eight times for the annual Best American Poetry series. Phillips is also the author of a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Art and Life of Poetry (2004), and the translator of Sophocles’s Philoctetes (2003).
His honors include the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.
Ancient Greek and Roman writers, especially Thucydides, Cicero, and Tacitus, were an early influence for Phillips. He studied their work extensively in college, and through them learned "how forceful syntax can be in conveying nuance" as well as the use of "compression when conveying psychological and emotional crisis." Later, while studying with Geoffrey Hill, he discovered English Metaphysical poets such as George Herbert and John Donne.
According to the Judges' Citation for the 1998 National Book Awards, "Carl Phillips' passionate and lyrical poems read like prayers, with a prayer's hesitations, its desire to be utterly accurate, its occasional flowing outbursts."
Phillips is Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the Creative Writing Program. He was elected an Academy Chancellor in 2006.