Brian Blanchfield reads "Corral" by Carl Phillips

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Brian Blanchfield reads "Corral" by Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips’s poem “Corral,” performed by Brian Blanchfield.

“Corral” is the fifth film in Above Strands of Earth: Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation at Tippet Rise, a project created in partnership with Tippet Rise’s sister organization, the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation, and produced in collaboration with the Academy of American Poets.

Directed by Irish photographer and filmmaker Matthew Thompson, the films were captured in locations on the land at Tippet Rise and throughout the art center’s artistic spaces.


Fleetingly, the mule is neither
justice nor injustice, but
another muscled

abbreviation in which
right and wrong take in
each other no apparent

interest, as if—impossible, on
purpose—to remind how
not everything is

vengeance, not everything
wants reason. The mule
intends nothing of the contrast he

makes inevitably
in a field otherwise all
horses: five of them, four

standing around and nosing
the only one whose flesh, white
entirely, lacks pattern, unless

the light counts,
the only one not standing,
lying with the particular

stillness of between when
a death has occurred
already and when we

ourselves shall have
learned of it. Until then,
that which before was

patternless and not standing
stands up, white, patterned
by the countable light,

the five horses step
into then just past a shy
gallop, the mule

among them, then beside them,
the mule falling in time behind
slightly, not like defeat—don’t

think it—like instead one who,
understanding (as a mule
cannot) in full the gravity

of the truth always that he carries
with him, can
afford to pity

honestly a glamour that
extends even to the legs, classical,
on which each horse for now outruns the mule.

Carl Phillips
for Percival Everett

Photo by Matthew Thompson

Brian Blanchfield

Poet and educator Brian Blanchfield was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and raised in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and Virginia. He earned his BA from the University of North Carolina and his MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Blanchfield is the author of two poetry books, Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004) and A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014). A Several World won the 2014 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry. In 2016, Blanchfield published Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts (Nightboat Books), a collection of essays he describes as “part cultural close reading, part dicey autobiography.” Proxies won a 2016 Whiting Award in Nonfiction and was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Memoir and the PEN USA Literary Award in Nonfiction, as well as being chosen as a Book of the Year by critics writing for Publishers Weekly, Tin House, BOMB, HTML Giant, The Portland Mercury, and The New Statesman. Blanchfield has also authored a poetry chapbook, The History of Ideas, 1973-2012 (Spork Press, 2013), and a prose chapbook, Correction. (Essay Press, 2016).

The recipient of a 2015–16 Howard Foundation Fellowship, Blanchfield is a former poetry editor of Fence and editor for Farrar, Straus & Giroux. From 2015 to 2017, he created and hosted the biweekly poetry-and-music program Speedway and Swan on KXCI Community Radio in Tucson, Arizona. His writing has appeared in publications including Best American Essays 2022, American Poets in the 21st Century, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Chicago Review, BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Bookforum, The Paris Review, Brick, Conjunctions, Tin House, A Public Space, and The Oxford American.

Blanchfield has taught creative writing at Pratt Institute, Otis College of Art and Design, Cal Arts, University of Arizona, University of Idaho, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He currently teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at The University of Montana and in the Bennington Writing Seminars. He and his partner, the poet John Myers, live in Missoula, Montana.

Photo by Pinestereo

Carl Phillips

Poet, scholar, and educator Carl Phillips was born in 1959 in Everett, Washington, the child of a Black American father and a white British mother. Throughout Phillips’ childhood, his father’s air force career brought the family to bases across the United States and beyond, including a four-year stay in Germany. Phillips was a teenager when his family settled down in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University on a scholarship, intending to major in biochemistry, but was drawn back to the classical languages he’d loved studying in high school. Phillips received his BA in Latin and Greek in 1981, followed by an MAT in Latin and classical humanities from the University of Massachusetts. He taught Latin in Massachusetts high schools for the next eight years.

Although he had written poetry as a teenager, Phillips set it aside during his years as a classics instructor. However, in 1990, he returned to poetry, an evolution which he regards as being triggered by his gradual new understanding of himself as a gay man. He began attending poetry workshops, and the praise and guidance of instructors Martín Espada and Alan Dugan encouraged him to take his writing more seriously. He enrolled in Boston University for his MA in creative writing. In 1992, Phillips published his debut collection, In the Blood _(UPNE), which was lauded by critics and won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. His follow-up, _Cortége (Graywolf Press, 1995), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and his next book, From the Devotions (Graywolf Press, 1998), a finalist for the National Book Award.

Many more of Phillips’ 15 books have won or been nominated for major awards. These include The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Rest of Love (2004), recipient of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry and a finalist for the National Book Award; Speak Low (2009), another National Book Award finalist; Double Shadow (2011), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and Phillips’ fourth National Book Award nod; Silverchest (2013), a Griffin Prize finalist; Reconnaissance (2015), recipient of a Lambda Literary Award and the PEN Center USA award; and Wild Is the Wind (2018), winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His selected poems, Quiver of Arrows, was published in 2017. A critic, scholar, and translator as well as a poet, Phillips has written two books of essays, The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination (2014) and Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (2004), as well as a translation of Sophocles’s Philoctetes (2003).

Phillips’s numerous honors include the Jackson Prize, a Kenyon Review Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 until 2012, and, since 2011, he has judged the Yale Series of Younger Poets award. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets. His poems have been selected eight times for the Best American Poetry anthology series. Phillips is Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also teaches creative writing. He lives with his partner in in St. Louis.