University of Akron Press
OverviewAn embouchure is the way in which a wind musician applies their mouth to an instrument's mouthpiece, and Embouchure, Emilia Phillips's fourth poetry collection, sets its mouth, ready to play. Trumpeting a picaresque coming out story, the poems are at turns self-deprecatory and revelatory, exploring sexual fluidity and non-monosexuality. From the speaker's adolescent crushes to her closeted 20s to her eventual acceptance of queerness, her disarming joy—even at her own mistakes—is cut with challenges to toxic masculinity and reckonings with anticipatory anxiety. The tomboy the speaker once was is transfigured into “a presexual soft butch / Medusa” with a “beautiful, beautiful / body that didn't know yet // how to contain itself.” Elsewhere, the speaker evades a Dickinsonian personification of Death, who seems more like an inescapable ex-boyfriend than a welcome bridegroom. Phillips's mock-confessionalism is as brassy as it is vulnerable.
Emilia Phillips (she/they) is the author of four poetry collections from the University of Akron Press and four chapbooks. Winner of a 2019 Pushcart Prize and a 2019–2020 NC Arts Council Fellowship, Phillips’s poems, lyric essays, and book reviews appear widely in literary publications including Agni, American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The New York Times, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s a faculty member of the MFA Writing Program and Department of English and cross-listed faculty with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UNC Greensboro.