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RECENT WORK

TUNED AND UNDER TENSION: THE RECENT POETRY OF W. D. SNODGRASS

"I once asked W. D. Snodgrass how valuable he thought the eccentric was. I had been thinking about his collection of essays in In Radical Pursuit and several eccentric characters in his work: the boy made of meat, the non-specialist professor in 'April Inventory,' Cock Robin and others. He said, 'Depends on how you define the eccentric.' I said, 'As deviant from the customary.' He smiled and said, 'Oh, in that case, it's liable to be very good indeed because the customary always involves limitations of vision, and unless you're saying something that people aren't generally saying there is almost no sense in saying it. Any society survives be limiting everybody's vision; it may also ruin itself by doing that. In any case, if you say something different, people aren't gonna like that and they're gonna see it as eccentric, where, in fact, it may be absolutely central.'"

 

Swimming in the Shallow End

A verse memoir that examines the archetypal American conflict between the desire to stay and the passion to go. Take any community; every street, in and out, is crowded with the dreams and frustrations of characters who seek their identities on the road or in their favorite diners. In an exchange of stories between the narrator who returns like the prodigal son and his wayfaring friend, the worlds of the Bronx and Paris and Hanoi are not far from Muncie, Indiana. Like William Carlos Williams’ Rutherford, New Jersey, and B. H. Fairchild’s Liberal, Kansas, Philip Raisor’s Middletown is a neighborhood pool that never seems long or deep enough, but grows large in memory and the imagination.

“Academics and journalists have written thousands of pages about Muncie, Indiana, the city Robert and Helen Lynd made famous as ‘Middletown,’ but there is nothing like Swimming in the Shallow End. Raisor evokes the experience of living in and coming from this quintessentially American community—its joys and sorrows, its characters, its feel—in a way no social survey could.”

James J. Connolly, Director of the Center of Middletown Studies

 

CHAPBOOKS

In The Instant After

 

In the Instant After is a collection about beginnings and endings and how we adapt in the middle, how we get things started and then have to deal with consequences when they go wrong. Thenarrative line is thin because the angles of vision are subjective. Deep image dances with tenuous holds on both present and past, and the forward movement of the collection is toward understanding rather than resolution. Prometheus is still in his eternal abyss but accepts; the failed high school athlete uses his sense of failure to hold on.   

 

 "Reading these poems is like looking through a wide-angle camera that carries you through myth, history, and geography before landing you squarely with the coffee cups and toasted verbs at the Egg 'n Hash Sitdown. Only Philip Raisor would write about crawling through the broken pipes and damp soil of a sewer, meeting Orpheus, a cowboy gunslinger, and a puritan-baiting colonialist, tying them together with love. It's a great trip, and there's a surprise at every stop." Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of Florida

Early Morning Koffee Klatch at the Egg 'n Hash Sitdown

 

 "Reading these poems is like looking through a wide-angle camera that carries you through myth, history, and geography before landing you squarely with the coffee cups and toasted verbs at the Egg 'n Hash Sitdown. Only Philip Raisor would write about crawling through the broken pipes and damp soil of a sewer, meeting Orpheus, a cowboy gunslinger, and a puritan-baiting colonialist, tying them together with love. It's a great trip, and there's a surprise at every stop." Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of Florida

 

 

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THE SPORTS PAGE

Headhunting and Other Sports Poems, Philip Raisor's third collection, explores how sports enters our lives through front, back, and side doors, while we are asleep or dying, arguing, praying, or running hell-bent from memories that won't let go. Knee injuries end an athlete's career, a wife prefers the opera to a husband's hockey night, war and domestic violence haunt games played by sons, daughters, and fathers, Phil Mickelson and Wilt Chamberlain make cameo appearances, a life-long sports addict petitions for entrance to heaven. Raisor digs at the dark areas in sports experience to pry loose principles worth preserving, games worth celebrating. He honors American sport for its joy, pain, and what it says about us.

 

"In Phil Raisor's Headhunting, we are given high-def poems rooted in the world of sports but, more than that, they are life poems realized through the medium of sport. The voices found in these pages are honest, elegant, raw, filled with kinetic energy and wisdom we all sweat for—whether we are athletes or not. After savoring this collection, it's impossible not to wonder how, in a country so mesmerized by sports, how we have lived without a poetry that celebrates their full complexity? These poems do this and do it beautifully." Tim Seibles author of Fast Animal

 

"It's unusual to find someone who has both experience with sport at a rarified level, and the chops to evoke the games we play with such imagination and resonance, but that's what you'll find in these pages. Philip Raisor is the bard of those times when, as he puts it, 'everything is on the line but your life.' If there's consonance between Raisor's subjects and our memories, it's because the heads in the poet's crosshairs are, in so many instances, our own."  Alexander Wolff  author of Big Games, Small World: A Basketball Adventure

 



"It is the kind of narrative that gives memoir a good name. A story of such honesty and humor and directness that the reader is made to feel as if he has not merely read about experience but lived through its pulse beat. It is story that only a few individuals in America could tell this well and with the authority of such details: a coming of-age story about facing loss and finding love; about the ugliness of racial discrimination and the necessary courage to stand against it; about basketball and dreams; about what divides us and makes us whole. It is a chronicle not only of Phil Raisor's coming of age but America's as well." Michael Pearson

 

In Hoosiers the poems, Raisor turns to one of his hometown's, and America's, passions: basketball. "Who has not seen Hoosiers?" he asks, recalling the 1986 movie often identified as one of the sports world's favorites. Having played in the state championship game that inspired the movie, and later a teammate of Wilt Chamberlain at Kansas, Raisor reviews that youthful time with a temperate but some-what jaundiced eye. While recalling the humor and spiritual sustenance of the athletes' world of the 1950s, he cannot erase from his mental map the injuries, racism, war, and unfulfilled dreams that girded the social and personal outrage eventually released in the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

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