Cover Image: Scattered Snows, to the North

Scattered Snows, to the North

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Member Reviews

there is something about reading carl philips that makes me feel like i’m reading for the first time.


I need you
the way astonishment,
which is really just

the disruption of routine,
requires routine.
Isn't there

a shock, though —
a thrill—
to having done

what we had to?
Unequally, but
in earnest, we love

as we can,
he used to mumble,
not so much his

mouth moving,
more the words
themselves sort of

staggering around lost
inside it ... Now
show me

exactly what
you think being brave

tysm to netgalley for this rockin arc.

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Poetry is unknowable, and that unknowability and indefinability is what draws us to it, I think. Every time you read a poem, you read it and see it and hear it a little bit differently. This is particularly the case with Carl Phillips' multilayered poems in this collection. They merit slow, thoughtful readings and re-readings. I'll let the poet's words speak for themselves with a few short excerpts:

"Sunlight in Fog": - how the river, running always away / the way rivers tend to, stands as proof that reliability / doesn't have to mean steadfast
"Artillery": the thunderclouds had begun clambering over / the mountains like sluggish bears just done wintering
"Little Winter": If someone / dreams about you, does it keep you alive? - to which / the only good answer is, In the end, will it matter?
"Heroic Interval": Above him, a bewilderment / of black swans pulling their bodies across a band / of nightfall
"Searchlights": finding shape first, then meaning, the way smoke does

And particularly this passage from "If Grief is Mostly Private and Always Various":
As for the sea, where's that sound now, that the snow made
in black and white, falling into it, the snow like words from
a severed head held aloft, upside down, and shaken -

But my favorite poem in the book is "Yes", and it here is how it ends:
You can treat the past
like a piece of fine glass to see yourself
reflected in; or to see through.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this eARC for unbiased review. This review will be cross-posted to my social media accounts closer to the book release date.

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*I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free poetry collection*

I liked "Scattered Snows, to the North" but while a lot of poems were nice, they did not really touch me if that makes sense. Poetry is deeply personal and maybe I was not in the right mood for it. Other poems connecting past to present, memory to fiction was quite well done. I should probably reread this one.

3 stars

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Reminiscent of Louise Gluck or Richard Siken, these poems are quiet but remarkable. Personal favourites include Artillery, Before All This, Stop Shaking. I plan to read more by this author

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Elusiveness is the heartbeat of this collection, as the poet skilfully navigates the delicate balance between clarity and ambiguity. The atmospheric quality of the poetry in this book is nothing short of mesmerizing. The language employed is both evocative and precise. The poet's use of metaphors and symbols adds a layer of depth to the verses, inviting contemplation on the intricacies of the human experience.

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"Scattered Snows, to the North" by Carl Phillips is a beautiful poetry collection that intricately weaves emotion and nature. Phillips' verses transport readers to a delicate world where winter landscapes mirror the complexities of human experience. The poet's mastery lies in the vivid imagery and profound introspection, creating a tapestry of longing and introspection.

Each poem is a lyrical exploration of the human spirit, entwined with the stark beauty of snow-laden landscapes. Phillips' language is both evocative and elegant, inviting readers to reflect on the quiet, transformative moments of life. "Scattered Snows, to the North" is a poignant and captivating journey through the seasons of the soul.

@NetGalley @fsgbooks @pinestereo #Carlphillips #NetGalley

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I feel like I had higher hopes for this book but maybe I was wrong— it wasn't bad but giving a bit of louise gluck from last year.

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“Scattered snows, to the north” is so deeply human and refreshingly normal. A study of humanity and wandering around in this world of strangeness. It’s accessible and raw without unnecessary frill or conceitedness. An exploratory and great read.

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I thought this was a well organized collection of poetry. For the lay reader (such as myself) it can feel a bit advanced and flowery, due to the extended use of nature metaphors but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the work. It simply means I’ll be returning to this book later on to dig deep into the individual poems I found a surface-level connection with and want to understand more thoroughly. I also think that this is one book where the printed form of the book may be better than the ebook, simply due to the structure of the poems and ease of reading.

I feel “Sunlight in Fog” and “Mechanics” deserve special recognition, however, as I found myself crying while reading both and couldn’t stop thinking about each while I tried to go to sleep.

This was my first read of Phillip’s work, and I’m now excited to seek out and read more of his poetry.

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Rating: 4/5
(Gifted a copy on NetGalley in exchange for a review)

Scattered Snows, to the North: Poems by Carl Phillips is a collection deeply invested in the mundane or the averageness of human experience. Grief, desire, confusion, love and shock all are filtered through the unrelenting pace of time and the simple fact most of us go unnoticed by history. Moving from personal experience to short fables to the Roman Empire, this collection validates, even as it struggles with, these two contrasting ideas. The poems are ultimately less about the tragedy of time and more the quiet understanding that what we experience is nothing new. While the ultimate meshing is a touch chaotic, Phillips’ strong poetic voice and the collection’s pulsing heart carry it. Favorite poems included “Before All of This”, “This Is the Light”, and “Somewhere It’s Still Summer”. This is a great collection for lovers of poetry and best enjoyed on a quiet afternoon.

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How I love reading Carl Phillips’ poetry! I am happy to have read this one, Scattered Snows, to the North, his newest book. Out of the 16 or more books he has produced I’ve only read four but I know I will read more.
His voice is warm and seemingly next to me. He speaks of nature, of animals, of Roman history and then we are plunged into a relationship, a quandary, the thought of someone he misses.
Carl Phillips is gay and mixed race. His African American father was in the military and so he grew up moving around. At Harvard he was interested in Greek and Roman classics. He was surprised to win the Pulitzer Prize last year.
But listen, this is how he writes poetry: “Writing is, for me, a bodily act, moving the arm, hearing the pen scratch, feeling the paper." This reassures me.
In a wonderful essay on Silence in the Literary Hub he writes: “To write is to resist invisibility. By having spoken, I’ve resisted silence before again returning to it.”
His poetry is very worth reading. Here are some lines from the poem “Rehearsal”:
deep inside the earth. Maybe
meeting you has been
the one good reason I lasted so long
in a world that must
eventually not include me, I almost
said to him. Past the forest

So you get a sense of his line breaks and the subtle inclusion of a very important that that was unsaid yet between the earth and the forest. This is Carl Phillips.
Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Strauss & Giroux for giving me a digital copy to review.

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Thanks to NetGalley and FSG for the ARC!

Whenever I read a collection as preoccupied with love as Carl Phillips’s "Scattered Snows, to the North," I have two thoughts: First, I’m immediately on guard because there are few subjects more cliché, and second, I’m immediately interested because there are few subjects more important. Phillips seems to welcome the embarrassment of love’s earnestness, avoiding the usual tropes of being so general as to be toothless or favoring “eros” because its physicality makes it easier to manage. The resulting poems are exultant in their directness, and Phillips writes with an assured voice and a precise sense of when to cut through the elevated or mystical with blasé flippancy. Rather than jarring the reader out of a poem, these turns allow them to move deeper into it—the speaker is self-aware about the absurdity of his pontificating, and that awareness brings it down into the space of intimate reflection.

The world certainly needs politically engaged poetry, but this collection is a testament to the importance of and need for poetry that doesn’t “accomplish” anything. Intimacy matters not because it is the whole world, but because it isn’t, and the quiet attention to it in this collection had me re-reading almost every single poem because they seem to exist—like love—just outside of language. The poet fully inhabits his subjectivity, and it’s not just that watching him do so is beautiful—it’s also interesting, particularly in pieces where he does so explicitly, such as “Somewhere It’s Still Summer.”

As one might expect from the title, nature plays a key and complex role in this collection. The landscapes within "Scattered Snows, to the North" are almost entirely psychological, and the poet’s concern for beauty within them demands a delicate touch. Readers may be treated to, say, a gorgeous description of a forest, but the speaker always prioritizes how the natural world is encountered first as metaphor.

A recurrent turn in these poems is to parse the space between two ideas, such as attention & adoration or abundance & excess. While the speaker often suggests that it’s impossible to resolve the distance, these pairings do not feel like tension—they feel like balance. The same could be said for "Scattered Snows, to the North" as a whole. These are perfectly balanced poems that never succumb to trite aphorisms about life and love, and the invocation of the natural world situates them in a beautiful emotional ecology.

What a book!

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Carl Phillip's poems are as beautiful and earthshattering as ever in this new collection, which focuses heavily on the dynamics of memory and forgetting. These questions, present in Pale Colors in a Tall Field, are brought front and center here, although the feeling one gets at the end of this book is that the poets feels that memory may have ceased to serve its purpose. Forgetting is championed in these pages, as are failure, distance, and disillusionment. My only critique is the brevity of this book, which is fitting to the subject matter—I just wanted more. Thanks to the FSG publicity department and NetGalley for the ARC.

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I have long been a fan of Carl Phillips. In his latest collection Scattered Snows, to the North, he has once again proven himself to be a maestro of eloquence and virtuoso of all matters of the heart. I can honestly say that this is my favorite book of his yet. His thoughts on memory, the passage of time, nature and dreaming all resonated with me in a way that I will not only be recommending it to customers in the store, but my friends and family may very well find themselves receiving copies as gifts!

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I am so thankful to FSG, Carl Phillips, and Netgalley for granting me advanced digital access to this collection of poems before this baby hits shelves on August 6, 2024. Scattered Snows, to the North invoked so many emotions as I was reading, truly capturing the narrator's ability to fail while still growing and coming to understand the world he lives in through missteps and wrong turns within his memories.

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