SPLAY MY COUNTRY by Xandria Phillips


goods where


            the umbra


where the nettle thicket






I have forsaken


            my view


of the cosmos


            for sprawls


of ozone


            -kissed teeth


this is how I feel


            small and significant


when you blow me


            over like topsoil


dusting a bulb 


            small enough to live


inside my mother




            a piece of genetic


scrap metal


            a prayer


another planet’s


            sun dust


I meant nothing 


            and I still do


but now the nothing


            comes disguised


as neon drowning orion


            in blush every night               


and another day


            leaning back to die


against the skyline




            this city is a mouth


forged around


            every gaze bound


for the heavens


            and I am begging it


to keep chanting


            its black harmony



                                                to open




                                                wider still



What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?


I fluctuate in my feelings about and understanding of the term “emerging.” I of course appreciate when resources and publication spaces are created for young or new poets. At times I feel seen in my struggle, but often time “emerging” also feels coded to mean “wait your turn.”


Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

I consider myself one who benefits from resources provided for emerging poets. That being said, there are a lot of other adjectives better describe what type of poet I am.


What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?


“Recognized” is very loaded and I'm hyper-aware of the difference between being seen and recognized. Recognition seems to usually involve major publications, awards, and grants.


How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?


The poetry community is heavily concerned with liberalism and diversity. While these ideologies may aim to do good, I think more often than not they fall short when it comes to amplifying poets who write from society's more precarious identities.


What does community mean to you?


Community is what got me through graduate school. It's people like Tafisha Edwards, who used to Skype with me until four in the morning when I was too sad to actually go out on a Saturday night. Community brings the world to me when I cannot access it myself.




XANDRIA PHILLIPS is the author of Reasons For Smoking, which won the the 2016 The Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. She hails from rural Ohio where she was raised on corn, and inherited her grandmother’s fear of open water. Xandria received her BA from Oberlin College, and her MFA from Virginia Tech. Xandria is Winter Tangerine's associate poetry editor, and the curator of Love Letters to Spooks, a literary space for Black people. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and Callaloo. Xandria’s poetry is present or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, West Branch, Nashville Review, Nepantla, Gigantic Sequins, Ninth Letter Online, The Journal, The Offing, and elsewhere. 




Please reload