Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet and educator Rogan Kelly has joined us to discuss the work of Rowan Ricardo Phillips and great poetry. Thank you, as always, for tuning in!
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first experience with Phillips’ work?
Rogan Kelly: I think the first poem of his that I read was “Golden.” I was living and working in DC then and not reading or writing much poetry. It was in The New Yorker. I would always search out the poetry first, look for the break from standard paragraphs on the page. It’s one of those poems where he’s talking to the beloved, retelling an experience, a place, a feeling. The reader is made implicit; luckless clover, a bee entered me. The poem stayed with me, though I don’t think I could articulate then what the poem was doing or its affect. It was years later that I put the poet to the poem in a more meaningful way.
AH: Is there a particular reason you chose these poems?
RK: I just think they’re wonderful examples of Philips’ gifts as a poet, what lies beneath or above the din, as Mary Ruefle might say. He has a way of making you feel like he’s letting you in on something, whispers before he growls or exalts. Surprising and seductive in the telling.
AH: How has interacting with and enjoying Phillips’ poetry inspired you as a writer?
RK:There’s an authenticity; he finds ways in to poems that never feel heavy-handed. He’ll use high art or make a pop culture reference, sometimes in the same poem, but it never feels contrived. He’s a reminder to be true. Reading great writing makes us up our level. It’s the same in tennis. As if there’s an invisible volley happening between poets.
AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any news you’d like to share (life updates,
RK: I have a hybrid piece in Pidgeonholes coming out; a literary deceit to illustrate the living kind. Recent poems with Plume and The Rupture, and I’m working on a review of Cynthia Dewy Oka’s Fire Is Not a Country.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips is a poet, educator, and journalist, and academic. He is the author of the poetry collections Heaven (2015) and The Ground (2012), and the recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Whiting Writers’ Award, and the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Find his website here.
Find his books here.
Read Phillips’ poem “Little Song” at Poetry.
Rogan Kelly is the author of Demolition in the Tropics (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in New Orleans Review, The Penn Review, Pidgeonholes, Plume, RHINO, and elsewhere. He is the editor of The Night Heron Barks and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, and does web design and build for RUBY literary magazine and press.
Find him online here.
Find his chapbook, Demolition of Tropics, at Seven Kitchens Press.
Read his poem “Temporary Sound” in The Rupture.
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com
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