The fact that Dennis Phillips was born and raised in Los Angeles is quite apparent through his poetic writing, for he captures the sense of discontinuity that is so unique to this city’s character and—some might say—its excitement. While growing up with the ever-present awareness of Hollywood and the increasing deluge of media influence, Phillips grained a criticality of these forces through his poetic practice and, for a decade in the 1970s, his interest in experimental film. He attended the famed California Institute of Art, receiving a B.F.A. in 1973. He then went to New York University in the graduate Classics department before leaving to make an experimental documentary, Possibilities of Activity, with cinematographer Anthony Forma.
In the late 1970s, Phillips joined the core faculty of the Liberal Arts and Science Department of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he continues to teach today.
Phillips had begun writing poetry at the age of 14, publishing poems in the Chicago Review and elsewhere. His first book publication was The Hero Is Nothing in 1985. During this same period, he served as the Book Review Editor for Clayton Eshelman’s noted Sulfur magazine. From 1985 to 1988 he was director of the Beyond Baroque Foundation in Venice, California.
Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s he published eight books of poetry. Most recently, his works have included Study for the Ideal City, published by Seeing Eye Books in 1999, and Sand in 2002.
With Martha Ronk and Paul Vangelisti, Phillips served as the editor of Littoral Books, which published several books in the 1990s and into the turn of the century. He is currently a poetry editor for The New Review of Literature, and teaches courses at Occidental college and in the Graduate Writing Program at Otis College of Art and Design.
Phillips’ work is high engaged in narrative—he also writes fiction—but in the poetry he often deletes narrative connections, which forces the reader to piece the narrative together, using the linguistic connections that make up his lyrical and imagistically evocative writing. The work, indeed, reveals his love of music and the influence of the great Modernist figures such as Joyce, Pound and Stevens. In 2007 Phillips published his first fiction, Hope (Green Integer).
He lives, with his artist wife, Courtney Gregg, and their daughter Sophia in Pasadena. [Source: The PIP (Project for Innovative Poetry) Blog]