Recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Poetry
2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award Winner
Nominated for the 2017 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry
2016 INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist
2017 Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award Finalist
2017 Lambda Literary Awards Winner
2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2017 Nominee for 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry
Shortlisted for Chicago Review of Books Award in Poetry
One of BET’s “12 Must-Read Books for 2016”
“This gorgeous debut is a ‘debut’ in chronology only. . . . Need is everywhere–in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave.”–Adrian Matejka
Phillip B. Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one’s ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.
A kiss. Train ride home from a late dinner,
City Hall and document signing. Wasn’t cold
but we cuddled in an empty car, legal.
Last month a couple of guys left a gay bar
and were beaten with poles on the way
to their car. No one called them faggot
so no hate crime’s documented. A beat down
is what some pray for, a pulse left to count.
We knew we weren’t protected. We knew
our rings were party favors, gold to steal
the shine from. We couldn’t protect us,
knew the law wouldn’t know how. Still, his
beard across my brow, the burn of his cologne.
When the train stopped, the people came on.