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Mutiny (Penguin Poets) (Paperback)
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Named one of the Best Books of 2021 by The Boston Globe and Lit Hub
Finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry
Longlisted for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Finalist for Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
From the critically acclaimed author of Thief in the Interior who writes with "a lucid, unmitigated humanity" (Boston Review), a startling new collection about revolt and renewal
Mutiny: a rebellion, a subversion, an onslaught. In poems that rebuke classical mythos and western canonical figures, and embrace Afro-Diasporanfolk and spiritual imagery, Phillip B. Williams conjures the hell of being erased, exploited, and ill-imagined and then, through a force and generosity of vision, propels himself into life, selfhood, and a path forward. Intimate, bold, and sonically mesmerizing, Mutiny addresses loneliness, desire, doubt, memory, and the borderline between beauty and tragedy. With a ferocity that belies the tenderness and vulnerability at the heart of this remarkable collection, Williams honors the transformative power of anger, and the clarity that comes from allowing that anger to burn clean.
About the Author
Phillip B. Williams is from Chicago, IL, and is the author of the book Thief in the Interior (Alice James, 2016). A recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Lambda Literary Award, and Whiting Award, he has also received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches at Bennington College and the Randolph College low-residency MFA.
Praise for Mutiny:
“The mutiny that gives Williams’s second collection its title is a wholesale rebellion against a culture that too often erases Black queerness; with punchy lines and formal play, the poems here make equal room for rage and tenderness.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Williams honors the power of rage.”
“Williams’s dense and intellectually ambitious second effort folds in triple rhyme, Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens, slave ship manifests, action sequences, erotic couplings, the music of Nina Simone, and a self-conscious long poem in which Williams ‘tried to rewrite’ T. S. Eliot. It’s a volume with something for everyone, justice for no one, and minor shocks everywhere.”
—The Boston Globe
“[Mutiny] demonstrates the significance of writing for oneself in a world that often denies Black queer people personhood . . . From grief, death, and destruction, Williams spins gold. He resists false senses of security, instead offering readers room to sit in the flood of feeling that characterizes our daily reality. Absorbing even the most torrential emotional downpour at the current state of the world, Williams work builds a kingdom of queer splendor and satisfaction for the reader to rest in.”
“Williams is one of the most inventive poets working today—at every turn, his writing surprises. Mutiny addresses the injustices of the history and present with declarative, clear, and powerful poems . . . In addition to holding a dynamic presence on the page, Williams’ lines are so sonically resonant that they demand to be spoken . . . This collection quickly became one of my favorites from this past year and, I’m sure, many years to come.”
—Corinne Segal, Lit Hub
“This book is for the ages. It hits on so many levels: urgency, complexity, formal inventiveness, depth of feeling, and pleasure in language . . . Sweeping and intimate, fierce and tender, visceral and virtuosic . . . Rage and pure passion jump off the page.”
—The Adroit Journal
“[A] remarkable second collection . . . [Williams] writes powerfully about masculinity, Blackness, selfhood, anger, loneliness, and love . . . These poems shimmer with thematic heft without shying away from anger and disappointment. Balancing tenderness with rage, and love with pain, Williams offers a complex portrait of a speaker navigating a society whose history is one of brutality . . . These poems capture the resounding loneliness and grace that arrive after anger has burned away, while offering rewarding and memorable images that celebrate the opportunities to appreciate the chance for survival and renewal.”
—Publishers Weekly (starrred)
Praise for Phillip B. Williams:
"[Williams] invites his audience into an intimacy that is brutal and yet inestimably generous in its confession and compassion . . . [He is] a voice for whom language is inadequate, yet necessarily grasped, shaped, and consumed. His devout and excruciating attention to the line and its indispensable music fuses his implacable understanding of words with their own shadows."
"[Williams] sings for the vanished, for the haunted, for the tortured, for the lost, for the place on the horizon where the little boat of the human body disappears in a wingdom of unending grace."
—The Best American Poetry
"This gorgeous debut is a 'debut' in chronology only, a rare poetic event that transcends our expectations. Williams's poems embody balance: uncompromising and magnetic, surprising and intuitive. Need is everywhere—in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicatethey seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave."
—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke, on Thief in the Interior