It most often seems to me that English is not a particularly beautiful language, but Rowan Ricardo Phillips's poetry argues eloquently against that. His ear for the language, sound and syntax, is inherited through Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane, clowningly playful while serious, repetitive while new, grounded in the city as well as a sheep meadow though highly philosophical and airy as a snow angel.
Phillips's second collection, Heaven, ambitiously builds on that first collection's recognition of the expanse: heaven and its mysteries. What could be more ambitious than naming the afterlife and bringing into measured lines the eternal? This book unveils a fascination with mirrors: mirrors mirroring themselves, twins, Narcissus and his pond, Apollo and Jupiter, Rowan considering Rowan, poetry considering its poem, rooster and rooster, a last line of the second poem early in the book mirrored with the penultimate poem’s title near the end and, ultimately, world and world, heaven and Heaven.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, 2015, Hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-0-374-16852-0.