Robert Phillips is a prominent figure in what has been called America's neglected "transition generation"—poets born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Spinach Days is his sixth full-length collection, following his critically acclaimed Breakdown Lane (Johns Hopkins, 1994), named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. In content and in its various use of forms, Spinach Days is Phillips' most innovative book yet. There are long narratives and short lyrics, villanelles and somonkas, haiku and found poems, free verse and eclogues, on subjects ranging from St. Francis to the Holocaust, from Jung's concept of the anima to a particular bit of American folklore on the gangster John Dillinger. Throughout, the poet's memory is the cohesive force, mixing events of childhood with adulthood, rural life with big-city life, love with loss, and humorous events with tragic ones. Phillips reveals himself to be a master of closure, and he writes as one who delights in the liveliness of language and wordplay.
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