A new collection of poems from one of America's most essential, celebrated, and enduring poets, Carl Phillips's Then the War
I'm a song, changing. I'm a light
rain falling through a vast
darkness toward a different
Carl Phillips has aptly described his work as an "ongoing quest"; Then the War is the next step in that meaningful process of self-discovery for both the poet and his reader. The new poems, written in a time of rising racial conflict in the United States, with its attendant violence and uncertainty, find Phillips entering deeper into the landscape he has made his own: a forest of intimacy, queerness, and moral inquiry, where the farther we go, the more difficult it is to remember why or where we started.
Then the War includes a generous selection of Phillips's work from the previous thirteen years, as well as his recent lyric prose memoir, "Among the Trees," and his chapbook, Star Map with Action Figures.
Ultimately, Phillips refuses pessimism, arguing for tenderness and human connection as profound forces for revolution and conjuring a spell against indifference and the easy escapes of nostalgia. Then the War is luminous testimony to the power of self-reckoning and to Carl Phillips as an ever-changing, necessary voice in contemporary poetry.
A master class in [Phillips's] deceptively gentle voice and striking depictions of raw humanity . . . Every selection provides a portal to this accomplished author's work. An important milestone in the still flourishing career of a most brilliant poet. --Booklist
About Heir to the Crescent Moon
From age five, Sufiya Abdur-Rahman, the daughter of two Black Power-era converts to Islam, feels drawn to the faith even as her father, a devoted Muslim, introduces her to and, at the same time, distances her from it. Abdur-Rahman's father and mother abandoned their Harlem mosque before she was born and divorced when she was twelve. Forced apart from her father--her portal into Islam--she yearns to reconnect with the religion and, through it, reconnect with him.
In Heir to the Crescent Moon, Abdur-Rahman's longing to comprehend her father's complicated relationship with Islam leads her first to recount her own history, and then delves into her father's past. She journeys from the Christian righteousness of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.'s 1950s Harlem, through the Malcolm X-inspired college activism of the late 1960s, to the unfulfilled potential of the early 1970s Black American Muslim movement. Told at times with lighthearted humor or heartbreaking candor, Abdur-Rahman's story of adolescent Arabic lessons, fasting, and Muslim mosque, funeral, and Eid services speaks to the challenges of bridging generational and cultural divides and what it takes to maintain family amidst personal and societal upheaval. She weaves a vital tale about a family: Black, Muslim, and distinctly American.