Ornament

Ornament, winner of the 2016 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize, judged by Geoffrey Brock, is out now from the University of North Texas Press. Poems from the book appear in Poetry International, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Hopkins Review, the Arkansas International, and Birmingham Poetry Review, among other places. You can order a copy from UNT Press or from Powell’s, or from your favorite indy bookseller. Signed copies available here soon!

Ornament is a kind of tribute album. The poet, who is also a banjo player, pays tribute in many poems to the old-time music of the Carolinas, and like the music, her poems are marked by bursts of lyric beauty, deft storytelling, and haunting set pieces.”—Geoffrey Brock, author of Voices Bright Flags and judge

“Bell’s formal virtuosity and luscious wordplay have the lightest of touches. The poems feel as if a winged being brushed by, leaving her readers subtly changed. Whether she’s writing about slugs mating or wasps returning to a nest destroyed, she is in sync with the wild world, yet burnished by love.”—Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst

“Brilliantly melding influences from Blues and Appalachian music to Dickinson and Frost, the adept, bold poems of Ornament offer praise and homage to the beleaguered, beautiful environments of the American southeast and of a poet’s soul. This is the kind of carefully built and deeply understood poetry that engages experience in a transformation so thorough it becomes kinetic, changing our felt sense of how the world moves.”—Annie Finch, 1990 winner of the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award

“As the collection’s title suggests, Phillips Bell’s poems are intensely lyrical and elaborately patterned, bringing to mind the music of a dulcimer. Indeed, regional music is integral to the collection: throughout the book, the author invokes and directly references forms including Appalachian folksongs, bluegrass tunes, gospel music, and church hymns. . . . One definitely hopes to see more from the author of this beautiful and promising first book.”—Alix Anne Shaw, The Los Angeles Review

Features and interviews

Book Notes playlist for Ornament at Largehearted Boy

WHQR interview with the author, with a reading of “Roustabout”

From the book

Ornament,” first published in the Southern Review, reprinted at Poetry Daily

Qualifications for One to Be Climbed by a Vine,” first published in 32 Poems, reprinted at Verse Daily

Midafternoon,” in 32 Poems 13.1

“Ornament,” after a line from Mississippi John Hurt, in print and in the audio gallery for the Southern Review, autumn 2015

Sprout Wings and Fly,” after a line from Tommy Jarrell, and “Girl at the State Line,” in District Lit

Trillium,” reprinted in Canary

To Do in the New Year,” from International Poetry Review, reprinted in Redux