Leaving Atlantis is a suite of poems that explores the unstable territory between public and private. They are addressed to the great Barbadian novelist and thinker, George Lamming, the silent but speaking partner in a relationship of love that comes between two writers when “your flag is flying at half-mast”. The suite works at multiple levels, as a record of the negotiation of feelings, permissions, exclusions and treaties between two persons who have to confront the reality of long lives that have accumulated “memories I cannot share”, and not least that the poet is a woman of deep religious faith, and the man a lifelong Marxist and non-believer. More than a portrait, fascinating and intimate as it is, of a public man; more than an exploration of the writing of the man for clues about what he might be thinking (and an acceptance of the ultimate mystery and unknowability of the intimate other), this is a suite of poems about the miracle of love, and how it may come at any time.
“In her extraordinary collection of poems, Leaving Atlantis, Esther Phillips writes quiet and powerful poems of love and care; of anguish and contradiction; of the complexities of human relationships. Her gift is immense.”
—Anthony Bogues, Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory, Brown University.