Louis Phillips, a widely published poet, playwright, and short story writer, has published more than 35 books for children and adults. Among his works are two collections of short stories – A Dream of Countries Where No One Dare Live (SMU Press) and The Bus to the Moon (Fort Schuyler Press); Hot Corner, a collection of his baseball writings, and R. I. P. (a sequence of poems about Rip Van Winkle) from Livingston Press; The Envoi Messages, a full-length play (Broadway Play Publishers). His books for children include The Man Who Stole the Atlantic Ocean (Prentice Hall & Camelot Books), The Million Dollar Potato (Simon and Schuster), and How to Wrestle an Alligator (Avon). His sequence of poems – The Time, The Hour, The Solitariness of the Place – was the co-winner in the Swallow’s Tale Press competition (l984). Among his other books of poems are The Krazy Kat Rag (Light Reprint Press), Bulkington (Hollow Spring Press), Celebrations & Bewilderments (Fragments Press), In the Field of Broken Hearts, and Into the Well of Knowingness (Prologue Press). His most recent books  are The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations and The Death of the Siamese Twins & Other Plays (both by World Audience, Inc.). He teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.

louis phillips
Must I Weep for the Dancing Bear, and Other Stories. These stories reinforce his reputation throughout his dozens of books of being imaginative,
incisive, and entertaining. The voice here is that of a young man, sometimes a teenager and sometimes a college student, who is learning about life and about work. Phillips captures these formative years brilliantly, creating a coming-of-age collection of stories that will take you back to your own youth. The characters change from story to story, but they consistently look at the world with a naïveté and an innocence which exude great humor, great pathos, and great curiosity. These stories are not to be missed.


Praise for Louis Phillips:

"Beware: The stories of Louis Phillips are not the kind that can be taken on just as one has snuggled, finally and wearily, into bed. One needs a mind in full gear. ..."

- Katheryn Krotzer Laborde, Xavier Review

Phillips' works are "continually ricocheting between foreground and background, light and dark, light and heavy; and with many degrees of light, as though endowed with an endless dimmer switch." - Alan Crossman, Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse

"Phillips is a wonderfully imaginative and original writer. I don’t know anybody who can handle a variety of voices, as well as an astonishing variety of times and places, with the ease and skill he repeatedly demonstrates. " – George Garrett reviewing Phillips' A Dream of Countries Where No one Dare Live


The Domain of Silence/The Domain of Absence:

New & Selected Poems

This book brings together a wide selection of poems on diverse subjects (the circus, Ted Williams, marriage, joys, grief, raising children, The Marx Brothers, etc.) written in diverse styles and numerous forms. The poems trace the remarkable career of a man who began writing stories and songs at age seven and has continued to work at his craft for over sixty years, a writer who is not afraid to try something different, to try to write in ways that challenge not only the reader but also the writer.

“It would be easy to say that Louis Phillips’ poems are merely delightful, except there’s always the dark waters roiling underneath. He’s a rare poet both of surface and of depth.” - Edward Field


New review of Domain of Silence:

Five Poets: A Review, by Joe Benevento (Green Hills Literary Lantern, 2016)

Another “selected” poems volume, Louis Phillips’ The Domain of Silence, The Domain of Absence, New and Selected Poems 1963-2015 presents the best of a writer who has been publishing in both poetry and fiction for over half a century, in which he has produced no fewer than fifty-five books for both children and adults.  Louis Phillips then has averaged a little more than a book a year for over fifty years.  His poems relate in some basic regard to the work of the four other poets in this review: like Lee Slonimsky he has spent much of his adult life in and around New York City; like Brennan and Slonimsky both, he knows his way around the sonnet.  Like Rammelkamp and Brennan he is fascinated by figures from history and popular culture, with poems devoted to Ted Williams, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers, among others.  And like the others he is unafraid to face loss, though never pretending that it is easy.  None of these poets is glib, though all of them, and especially Phillips, have a sense of humor. 

Phillips first poem of this over two-hundred page volume, “On Varicose Veins My Grandmother Stood,” is a marvelous construction, a poem in quatrains, the first two lines  in each not rhyming, followed by a rhyming couplet.  This poem introduces us to a poet who is consistently playful- with style, with language, with life- though always offering the reader more than a punchline, while still valuing the power and range of what one can do with a good punch.  It is in this very first poem of the collection that we get a hint of the heritage that allowed Phillips the leeway to laugh at himself as well:  “With arthritic hands my grandmother touched/ Our lives most wondrously / Rummaged through sales looking for clothes. / & scattered my poetry as if it were prose.”  

Phillips’ poems grab the reader right from the beginning, with striking titles such as “The Act of Seeing Is A Moral Choice,”  “Try This Poem Before You Read Any Others,” “I Do Not Understand French,”  “The Marx Brothers In ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’” (I wonder if Phillips is aware that Groucho and T.S. became friends in Eliot’s last years; I’m betting he is) “Giant Caterpillars Devour A Major City On The East Coast,” and, my favorite, “Reading Philip Larkin Fucks You Up.”  There is no top-heaviness to his work, though; each title ends up delivering a poem worthy of it, including the absolute tour de force that is his re-rendering of Eliot’s masterpiece within the framework of the Marx Brothers best movies: “In movie lobbies, men, some balding,’ /Come & go like Captain Spaulding.” 

Louis Phillips is also a social critic, as in his “Our Poets Are Haunted By Dead Deer,” where he undercuts poems by “Cummings, Stafford & McGrath” by reminding us that in the big city “our headlights/ fall on darker game, one/ we cannot dispose of/ by tossing down/ a mountain side.”  The very next poem, “Death in the Country” suggests that only in a world of dreams can we take death from its natural place, which he makes us see through the absurd vision of “Placing my arms around the neck/ Of a twelve point buck,/Hugging him,/ His melancholy face/ Against my face/ & no one dies ever.”   Yet these poems are never cynical or glib, just accepting of what is.  “The End of Summer” finds Phillips enjoying the flowers as much as the next fellow, maybe more, but still understanding that Nature “Tomorrow … will send cold rain./When I turn to her again, she will say,/Don’t come whining to me.”

There are no whiners among the five poets in this review.  And it isn’t because they have led especially charmed lives.  Saddest of all are the few poems that share with us Phillips’ loss of a son, poems particularly poignant in a “selected poems” volume that inevitably includes happier times with that son.  In a close to perfect poem about this loss, “The Dowager,” readers can understand some measure of what the poet has suffered, while still appreciating the brave life that tries to live on and the characteristic heart and depth that will make Louis Phillips always one of my favorite writers.  I feel the poem also can stand as a testament to all five poets in this review, none of whom is ready or willing to give in to the darkness, who acknowledge and try to understand life’s inevitable pain and loss but who never choose to befriend it.   With a brilliant surprise attack on an iconic song, Louis Phillips articulates the deepest loss without seeking to embrace it:

Darkness never will be my old friend.

Darkness took my son from me

& left me with half a heart to love with.

Anyone who takes darkness as an old friend


Will never be my friend….


the music


I listen for comes from a long way off,

From a mouth that can never kiss. 


Joe Benevento. Green Hills Literary Lantern.  (2016)

The Domain of Small Mercies is the second edition of Louis Phillips’ New and Selected Poems. This is a follow-up to his Domain of  Silence / Domain of Absence.

Now Available

ISBN 978-0-912887-48-7



Louis Phillips does it again with more new and selected poems. The sheer energy of the poet comes through in the sheer intensity and creativity of the poems in this new volume. Phillips writes plays, short stories, novels, compilation books, and poems, poems, poems. Here he once again searches through his dozens of publications to find those several which provide humor, pathos, and social commentary. The Domain of Small Mercies is one of those rare books which can have you laughing on one page and crying on the next. And in fact the very unexpected quality of the poems is part of the joy of the book.

It’s diffi
cult to describe the stories in The Woman Who Wrote ‘King Lear.  Louis Phillips has created a wild and imaginative collection, reminiscent of some of the strangest and least conventional authors ever to have put pen to paper: Barthelme, Borges, Barth. You won’t be moved to tears, but you will likely be moved to laughter. And, in some cases, you will be re-considering the very definition of a short story.

    Phillips writes about a “committee of grief,” about termites in Africa, about Lee Harvey Oswald’s can opener. He tells of how an angry consumer shows his disdain against the telephone company by sending out false bills which, ultimately, leads to the withdrawal of the state of Iowa from the union. He reveals newly discovered manuscripts by John Locke in which Locke writes of the philosophical significance of the bicycle.

    In one crazy piece, Phillips describes the chaos that occurs when a cat finds Thomas Hardy’s heart and, well, devours it. That act of feline felony obviously disrupts plans to Hardy’s the heart on display. And, of course, he writes that amazing title story: Yes, it’s true: “King Lear” was penned by Radcliffe graduate Muriel B.
Hopkins, not by the esteemed William Shakespeare.

What is the theme connecting these stories? Madness, perhaps, but not only the madness of single characters. Madness as well of entire communities, the “madness of crowds.” Read these stories, but be prepared to confront new realities, some of which you may never entirely escape.


Go to www.bartmidwood.com and click on "Peer Revue" to hear Bart Midwood read two poems by Louis.

Click the photo to the left to see a video of Lou talking about his work and talking about his book, Fires and All Particulars, published by Fort Schuyler Press. The video was produced by Lou’s son Ian.