Meet the Authors: Maya Phillips

Interview conducted by American Literary Review Editors

Maya Phillips is the author of the poetry collection Erouout from Four Way Books. Her poem “Poem Ending With a Scene of a Woman Alone” appeared in our Fall 2018 issue. Maya will be signing her poetry collection, Erou, at AWP at the ALR table (T1353) on Saturday from 1-2pm. We asked Maya a few questions in anticipation of meeting her in person at AWP.

ALR: What was the last book you read, in any genre, that taught you something new about your craft as a poet?

Maya Phillips: Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic. I had read bits and pieces of it but finally sat down to read it in full a few weeks ago. I was intrigued by the form—this is a poetry collection, but it comes with a dramatis personae, like in a play, and is illustrated with figures depicting sign language. And the narrative itself is highly controlled and reads as a fable. But what strikes me in Kaminsky’s work on a more micro level is the sense of romance and existential largeness with which he treats his metaphors. There’s a sense of searching for meaning, questioning our most human impulses, in his work. Even as he relishes in the small, quiet moments of someone bathing or combing her hair in his poems, there’s something larger, almost celestial in each small act of existence. Like he says, “What is silence? Something of the sky in us.”

ALR: What kinds of research feed your creative process—music, movies, non-literary texts, archival work, etc?

MP: Mos