NC Literary Hall of Fame



What Comes from a Thing by Phillip Barron

Fourteen Hills Press
$12.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-889292670
December, 2015
Available from your local bookstore or

"Phillip Barron’s What Comes from a Thing renders the familiar strange again, and so offers us the rare opportunity to re-encounter what we think we know. A mapping and re-mapping of our concurrent worlds, these poems explore the shifting overlays of industrial landscape, post-industrial landscape, the 'natural' world, and all the worlds that exist among them: location is never where we left it. Barron stitches through time a tracery of telephone poles, contrails, water, and railroads, bodies of granaries and birds, factories and fields, as he probes received ideas of identity and relation. What Comes from a Thing investigates what it can mean to be alive to our twenty-first century existence, bathing in the mortar / reeds and ruin."
—Laura Walker, author of Follow-Haswed (

"What Comes from a Thing is both an asking and a telling. Phillip Barron's poems give voice to objects lost, discarded, fallen into the liminal zone between society and nature. With cool cadences, at once melancholy and analytical, the poet rings the fate of human artifacts as they return to the beauty and mystery of their primary uselessness. In the twilight of industrial civilization, Barron's poems remind us of all 'that we have forgotten how to make.'"
—Andrew Joron, author of Trance Archive

"Phillip Barron's book is a precisionist sounding of chosen scenes, realist in diction, ecological in sensibility—including a human ecology, and intent on tracking the process, the provenances, and the particulars that made us arrive just here. The work inventories these chosen sightlines with a kind of stoicism: 'what we have done is what we will become.' The authorial voice is at one and the same time the object of history, objective about history, and the subject of history within his own austere findings. These poems are about more than a de-industrialized landscape or the borders between wood and farms, they are materialist statements."
—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

What Comes from a Thing is the first collection of poetry from Phillip Barron. It won the 2015 Michael Rubin Book Award from Fourteen Hills Press.

This volume takes as its subjects presence and absence after the death of manufacturing and the disintegration of the working class under twenty-first century capitalism. These poems embody the sounds and rhythms of factories, industrial farmlands, and ports of late modernity. Whether rural or urban, the places—like the aesthetics—of these poems have survived the shift to a post-industrial economy and merit deep attention for the role they play in constructing the materiality and ideal of our daily experiences. The book resides in this very tension between idealism and materialism, where “we manufacture footnotes now, echoes of all else/that we have forgotten/how to make.”

Phillip Barron grew up in South Carolina and studied at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a master of arts degree in Philosophy. He currently teaches courses in Philosophy and Humanities at Woodland Community College while he finishes a master of fine arts degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. What Comes from a Thing, his first book of poetry, won the 2015 Michael Rubin Book Award.

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