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. "The long title poem of Robert Phillips' sixth collection wryly evokes his days as a broke intern at an advertising agency in 1950's Manhattan ...Phillips has a chatty, mellow voice that is appealingly textured .
..Throughout, Phillips's unaffected ease with formalism proves his greatest strength. A section of poems concerning love and sex possesses a gleeful streak of malice. He also works crisply in traditional forms ranging from villanelles to eclogues."--Megan Harlan, New York Times Book Review "Spinach Days is poetry at its best--plain spoken and yet melodic, formal without reading like limericks, intelligent without being bombastic ...It's the kind of book that makes the reader dog-ear the pages ...Phillips is a poet of rare talent whose works will be read long after most of his contemporaries have faded away."--Eric Miles Williamson, Literal Latte "There is a wry, self-deprecating intimacy and charm in Robert Phillips' poems that are not like anyone else writing today."--Carolyn Kizer "Phillips' playful title prepares us for reminiscence, and there are many poems of personal archaeology here, prodigious in their concreteness and their believable inventories. Through all of the poems moves Mr. Phillips' inimitable voice--easy-going, spare, engaging, and inclined to comedy.
Some of the richness of Spinach Days comes of the equable telling of poignant or bitter things; it is like hearing depth charges in a calm sea."--Richard Wilbur "Here's a book to 'drive away the grackle of unhappiness.' The poems in Robert Phillips' Spinach Days, wryly nostalgic, rueful, sharply felt, vanquish troubles and ring true in his clear, unmistakable voice. A pleasure to read and re-read."--Daniel Hoffman "This book of lamentations and praises, seethings and gentlings, losses and acceptances is at once easy and tough, subtle and plain. Spinach Days is the work of a very good poet who fits the poem to the idea, the method to the matter, simple English to complex thought, and who takes his craft more seriously than he does himself."--Edward Albee "Robert Phillips is about the only living U.S. poet who never bores me."--X. J. Kennedy "Robert Phillips is an important American poet. He expresses and incarnates the sensibility of our time; when I read him I experience, eerily, what I did not know I knew until his poem revealed it."
--Cynthia Ozick "Robert Phillips' attitude is that of the sensitive and isolated modern whose defenses--and resources--are observational quirkiness, tolerance, and rueful intelligence. His work is engagingly open and accessible, his subjects painstakingly explored."--James Dickey, citation of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Literature
Robert Phillips is the author of five previous books of poetry. He is poetry editor of the Texas Review and a councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters. He teaches at the University of Houston, where he was director of the Creative Writing Program and is now a John and Rebecca Moores Scholar.