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About this poet

Philip Metres was born on July 4, 1970, in San Diego and grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. In 1992, he graduated from Holy Cross College in Indiana and received his PhD in English and an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University in 2001.

Metres is the author of four poetry collections: Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016); Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015); A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013), winner of the 2014 Arab American Book Award; and To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008). He has also translated the works of such Russian poets as Sergey Gandlevsky, Lev Rubinstein, and Arseny Tarkovsky.

Metres is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, and Watson Foundation, as well as the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he lives.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016)
Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015)
A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013)
To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008)

For the Fifty (Who Formed PEACE With Their Bodies)

In the green beginning,
     in the morning mist,
          they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
     slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
          necks & tanks, Tommy’s & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
     abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
         & names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor’s rhetoric of defense,
     laying it down, their child-
          stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
     onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
          as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
     the shape of a word yet to come, almost
          embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
     of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
          they touch to make

the word they want to become:
     it’s difficult to get the news
          from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
     here: the fifty hold, & still
          to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
     themselves & themselves: the body,
          the dreaming disarmed body.

Copyright © 2014 by Philip Metres. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2014 by Philip Metres. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Philip Metres

Philip Metres

Metres is the author of four poetry collections: Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016); Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015); A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013), winner of the 2014 Arab American Book Award; and To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008).

by this poet

poem

With scissors & Samson, see. With columns,
see, see also. With gunpowder, my liege.

With rusted nail heads, see. With ball bearings,
see. With broken razors & razor wire, page. 

With darts, seized. & screws, see. & with shrapnel.
With pipe casings, seamed. C-4. See rage.

poem

1.

Outside, in a country with no word
for outside, they cluster on trees,

red bunches. I looked up
ryabina, found mountain ash. No

mountains here, just these berries
cradled in yellow leaves.

When I rise, you fall asleep. We
barely

poem

How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,

the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British

now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books