Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry

Carl Phillips
Published in 2004
by Graywolf Press

“Beauty, at least when it is referred to by that name—suffers the same treatment by too many contemporary poets (and students of poetry) as does authority in poetry,” writes Carl Phillips, recipient of the 2021 Jackson Poetry Prize, in “The Case for Beauty,” an essay included in Coin of the Realm. “It gets dismissed as naïve, or irrelevant, or somehow on the wrong side of the field on whose other side we are all assumed to have happily set up camp together.” In these incisive and imaginative essays, Phillips wrestles with topics such as authority, identity, consciousness, and beauty, and how these subjects relate to writing poetry. With examples ranging from ancient Greek to contemporary poetry, Phillips shows writers what it is to be a rigorous thinker in and outside the work one writes.