Creative Writing Faculty

Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Ricardo Phillips headshot

Photo by Sue Kwon


Born in New York City in 1974, poet, literary and art critic, and translator Rowan Ricardo Phillips earned his BA at Swarthmore College and his PhD at Brown University. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry among other publications. He is the author of Heaven (FSG, 2015) and The Ground (FSG, 2012), for which he was the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award and the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry, along with having been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. He is a judge for the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry.

“Its title may suggest stability, but the ground Phillips treads is a middle ground—between spirit and flesh, heaven and earth, here and gone. His images are evanescent, twilit, smoke-obscured,” observes poet Eric McHenry in a 2013 New York Times review of The Ground. The PEN Award judges commented, “Rowan Ricardo Phillips can be sweetly Whitmanesque in his poems, or gravely meditative, or lushly lyrical. In other words, he is a poet capable of voices—plural. Every poem in The Ground surprises the reader with its vivid images and rhythms, or its fully present, personal voice, or its lightning-bolt sincerity. And while there is often a hidden tragedy at the center of his poems, there is also great pleasure taken in the idea of survival during a time of chaos.” Poet Lawrence Joseph, writing in Commonweal, called The Ground "[a] truly extraordinary book, the best first book by an American poet I've read in years." Teju Cole, in a 2014 interview in The New York Times Book Review, cited Phillips as "the future of American poetry." 

In addition to his work in the field of poetry, Phillips writes literary criticism, art criticism, and non-fiction: he is the author of a study of poetry, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness; the translator, from the Catalan, of Salvador Espriu’s Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth; and a contributing writer for Artforum Magazine; he has also written extensively on soccer online for The New Republic and The Paris Review. Phillips has taught at Stony Brook, Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia. A Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, he divides his time between New York City and Barcelona.


Read works by Rowan Ricardo Philips online at Poetry Foundation, Poetry Society of America, New Republic, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Granta.


“PEN America Awards Announced, Rowan Ricardo Phillips Wins in Poetry” |, 2013

Rowan Ricardo Phillips wins 2019 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing |, 2019

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Program in Creative Writing
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