Paperback Price: 15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-17-6

Selected Poem

God As A Failed Figuration

A reflection, a figment of a figment
of the imagination. The male figure stands
by himself, obscured. When he lifts his hands
lightning scythes below. From his weary blues
blues spill out but nothing around can
define how. Emptily the blues signify.

Thief in the Interior

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”


“To experience [Phillip B. William’s] poetry is to encounter a lucid, unmitigated humanity, a voice for whom language is inadequate, yet necessarily grasped, shaped, and consumed. His devout and excruciating attention to the line and its indispensable music fuses his implacable understanding of words with their own shadows.”
—Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Boston Review

“This gorgeous debut is a ‘debut’ in chronology only, a rare poetic event that transcends our expectations. Williams’s poems embody balance: uncompromising and magnetic, surprising and intuitive. 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, author of The Big Smoke

“Not just more of the artfully skill-less, conceptual talk of a poem, this is what you’ve been waiting for: some poetry. Not just skill as possession, as a commodity, but skill to accomplish the expressive event, a deeply felt poetic argument. For example Williams’ line is no arbitrary unit of type, but an effective musically syntactic accomplishment of line. Poetry!”
—Ed Roberson

“The seasoned reader of poetry will be impressed that Thief in the Interior is Phillip B. Williams’s first collection. His control of the line is masterful, and his syntax eschews, for the most part, direct or simple delivery of language, creating a formal and solemn tone that scores the emotional pitches of the book.”
Los Angeles Book Review

“Williams demonstrates an astounding technical mastery of poetic forms that goes far beyond form for form’s sake, as he repeats, reconfigures, and recontextualizes words and phrases in order to create continuity and multifaceted meanings.”
Muzzle Magazine

“Williams’ poems never cease to give you that “Aha!” moment as you read through the poem again and again to discover yet another layer of meaning. His calls for justice, for things in the dark to be brought out to the light, do not go unheard.”
San Diego Review

“[Williams’] lyricism is full of interruptions—into and out of history, in and out of metaphor, in and out of the violence of being a body.”
“30 Poets You Should Be Reading”

“. . .Thief in the Interior is a remarkable collection that balances engagement with both the horrific and the beautiful.
Southern Humanities Review

Thief in the Interior does what a collection of poems should do. It draws its reader in and forces its reader to think, to admire, to observe, to question and to whip out the notebook and go nuts on the adjectives—dynamic, robust, dominant, vigorous, inventive, vigorous, original, musical, original, and adroit.”
The Adroit Journal

Thief in the Interior damns and redeems, and represents a truly worthwhile literary experience.”

“[Williams] sings for the vanished, for the haunted, for the tortured, for the lost, for the place on the horizon where the little boat of the human body disappears in a wingdom of unending grace.”
—The Best American Poetry



  1. Three Local Artists Respond to the Black Lives Matter Movement - Our Ladies and Gentle Men - November 6, 2015

    […] Park native  Phillip B. Williams writes about the specter of black murder in his forthcoming book Thief in the Interior (January 12). The poet and Chicago contributor uses both 20th-century lynchings and more […]

  2. The Spectacle of Black Death: Remembering Our Killed or Rekindling Their Murders? | RaceBaitR - November 24, 2015

    […] B. Williams is a Chicago, IL native. He is the author of the book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He is a recipient of the 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship and is the poetry […]

  3. Bull Pen: 12/14 — 12/20 – Bull City Press - December 21, 2015

    […] sampler of his poems included in the Boston Review Top 20 Poems of 2015. Look for his new book, Thief in the Interior, to come out next year from Alice James […]

  4. Bull Pen: 11 JANUARY 2016 – Bull City Press - January 11, 2016

    […] annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize from The Missouri Review.  Phillip’s new book, Thief in the Interior, is due out this year from Alice James […]

  5. Bull Pen: 18 JANUARY 2016 – Bull City Press - January 18, 2016

    […] #17 contributor, Phillip B. Williams has a new book just coming out, Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books). PBW was everywhere this week: at Vinyl with his article “The Spectacle […]

  6. BookReview! Salt. By Nayyirah Waheed – AFREADA - March 14, 2016

    […] scene by storm. Some of these poets include: Warsan Shire, Alexandra Elle, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Phillip B. Williams, Ladan Osman, Rupi Kaur, Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Bilphena Yahwon(gold womyn), Upile Chisala just to […]

  7. Bull Pen: 28 March 2016 – Bull City Press - March 29, 2016

    […] of the stellar line up in this spring’s issue of Oxford American. Phillip’s new book, Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books) is reviewed at the San Diego Book […]

  8. Bull Pen: 11 April 2016 – Bull City Press - April 11, 2016

    […] gorgeousness.” Phillip B Williams, contributor to INCH #17/Spring 2012 & author of Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books), is interviewed by Kaveh Akbar at […]

  9. Fund This: Help Gabriel Ramirez Get to Callaloo Oxford - Cultural Weekly - April 28, 2016

    […] saw this on the Facebook page of one of my favorite poets, Phillip B. Williams, and immediately knew it’s something worth all of our attention, even briefly, even we […]

  10. Jomama Jones Shedding Light - Aster(ix) Journal - May 16, 2016

    […] Returning to the work of Gwendolyn Brooks. And enjoying the work of the gifted Deborah Paredez, Phillip B. Williams, and a writer my friend Kyla introduced me to, Aracelis Girmay. Also, the work of Normandi Ellis, […]

  11. Conversations - Button Poetry - June 2, 2016

    […] reading a gorgeous new book that just came out from Alice James called Thief in the Interior by Phillip B. Williams and another stunner that Third Man Books is publishing this year, Kendra […]

  12. This sh*t is for us?: All my n*ggas, and Black people who don't do the N-word. - RaceBaitR - October 19, 2016

    […] B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of the book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 […]

  13. This sh*t is for us?: All my n*ggas, and Black people who don’t do the N-word. – black artists online - December 11, 2016

    […] B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of the book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 […]

  14. 2017 Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Award Winners Announced – Tufts Poetry Awards - February 1, 2017

    […] 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award winner is Phillip B. Williams was chosen for his volume Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books). The Kate Tufts Discovery award is given to an emerging poet for their first […]

  15. “Of Shadows and Mirrors”: Authoring Identity in Phillip B. Williams’ Thief in the Interior - Tufts Poetry Awards - March 28, 2017

    […] could never really exhaust the many layers of identity that Williams explores within Thief in the Interior, and perhaps that is the point. The concept of intersectionality, though so present in the […]

  16. Turn your face that way where the light no more transfigures you | live in the layers - April 15, 2017

    […] Here’s a poem that asks to be read again and again by Phillip B. Williams (1986-), from his captivating and masterful debut collection, Thief in the Interior.  […]

  17. Our 25th Annual Tufts Poetry Awards Ceremony - Tufts Poetry Awards - May 2, 2017

    […] in their poems. First, Kate Tufts Discovery Award winner Phillip B. Williams read from his book Thief in the Interior. Beginning with his poem “Sonnet with a Cut Wrist and Flies” and ending with […]