Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Phillip B. Williams  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1986 in Chicago, Illinois

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-- Phillip B. Williams on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Williams is a Chicago native.

Biographical and Professional Information

Phillip B. Williams received his MFA in Writing as a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis. He is a Cave Canem graduate. He is the author of the chapbooks ''Bruised Gospels'' (2011), and ''Burn'' (2013). His poetry has appeared in Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, The Southern Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, West Branch, Blackbird and many others.One of the recipients of the 2017 Whiting Award, Williams has also received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He is the co-editor-in-chief of the online journal Vinyl. A visiting professor in English at Bennington College, he currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Prime: Poetry & Conversation
ISBN: 1937420736

Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC. 2014

Prime: Poetry & Conversation is a first-of-its-kind document of poetry and ongoing conversation in the black, queer literary community, a necessity as the historically well-indexed canon of white queer writers continues to grow with little diversity. Sparked into existence by a Best American Poetry blog from Jericho Brown in which he singled out some of the most exciting young, black, and gay men writing today, Prime features poems by and dialogue between poets Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Saeed Jones, Rickey Laurentiis, Phillip B. Williams, and L. Lamar Wilson. Jericho Brown provides the introduction for this collection, which is proudly published by Sibling Rivalry Press.

Thief in the Interior
ISBN: 1938584171

Alice James Books. 2016

Recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Poetry
2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award Winner
Nominated for the 2017 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry
2016 INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist
2017 Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award Finalist
2017 Lambda Literary Awards Winner
2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2017 Nominee for 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry
Shortlisted for Chicago Review of Books Award in Poetry
One of BET’s “12 Must-Read Books for 2016”

"This gorgeous debut is a 'debut' in chronology only. . . . Need is everywhere—in the unforgiving images, in lines so delicate they seem to break apart in the hands, and in the reader who will enter these poems and never want to leave."—Adrian Matejka

Phillip B. Williams investigates the dangers of desire, balancing narratives of addiction, murders, and hate crimes with passionate, uncompromising depth. Formal poems entrenched in urban landscapes crack open dialogues of racism and homophobia rampant in our culture. Multitudinous voices explore one's ability to harm and be harmed, which uniquely juxtaposes the capacity to revel in both experiences.


A kiss. Train ride home from a late dinner,
City Hall and document signing. Wasn't cold
but we cuddled in an empty car, legal.
Last month a couple of guys left a gay bar
and were beaten with poles on the way
to their car. No one called them faggot
so no hate crime's documented. A beat down
is what some pray for, a pulse left to count.
We knew we weren't protected. We knew
our rings were party favors, gold to steal
the shine from. We couldn't protect us,
knew the law wouldn't know how. Still, his
beard across my brow, the burn of his cologne.
When the train stopped, the people came on.


Thief in the Interior

  • Finalist, NAACP Image Award, 2017
  • Kate Tufts Discovery Award, 2017

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)