My Trade Is Mystery: Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing


Product Details

$20.00  $18.60
Yale University Press
Publish Date
5.79 X 8.14 X 0.58 inches | 0.58 pounds

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About the Author

Carl Phillips is the author of sixteen books of poetry, most recently Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020. His most recent prose book is The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination. Phillips lives in St. Louis, where he teaches at Washington University.


"A small collection of illuminating, deeply endearing essays about the writing life."--Ron Charles, Washington Post

"A beautiful collection of essays. . . . Phillips's reflections are as much about his personal development as they are a peek behind the curtain for budding writers, who will find a fair share of solid guidance. . . . This pensive account of the writing life delivers."--Publishers Weekly

"With the wisdom of experience and refreshing candor, Phillips offers seven cornerstones for living as a writer. . . . The book is rich with Phillips' expert lyric ear . . . a lovely, loving letter to aspiring writers."--Diego Báez, Booklist

"If this book was only for poets and writers, it would still be a wonder. But here, Phillips has revealed a map for why and how to pursue anything loved, as welcoming to someone honing a jump shot as a sentence, relevant to the poet and postal worker. More than a craft book, it is a reminder of the restlessness and recklessness that call many of us to keep doing the things we're drawn to. A book equally rich for the seasoned writer as the novice, and one whose insight will call you to it, again and again."--Reginald Dwayne Betts

"These meditations are simply extraordinary. With abiding care for the mysteries of creation, bracing wisdom, and fierce honesty, Carl Phillips moves us all closer to 'the native language of the interior self.'"--Lia Purpura

"How I love the elusive textures of this book. Blurring essay and craft lecture, riff and reflection, My Trade Is Mystery is less a how-to than a meditation on the art. Writing is, first and foremost, a matter of being present, and here, Phillips brings a career's attention to the subject, not instructing so much as engaging, asking the necessary questions about how to live a life in art."--David L. Ulin