The finely crafted poetry of Philip Booth has a strong, clear connection with his ancestral home of Castine, Maine, a colonial coastal village of fewer than seven hundred year-round residents. Through his poetry, Booth carefully captured this place; he was at home with its blustery winters, its tides and charts, its starkness, its dry humor, its sparse, homely conversation, and its flora, fauna, and animals. However, like Emily Dickinson, through an intimate closeness with one place, the poet spoke of a common humanity and universal themes.
Booth’s poems move from engaging openings to clear, satisfying conclusions and are meticulously placed in each volume, moving toward a final resolution of their themes. Booth husbanded his language, but his poems hold a richness of meaning and look with curiosity and wonder at the miracle of human life. The poet, whose works have been translated into French, Portuguese, Finnish, Dutch, and Italian, and have been lauded by fellow poet Maxine Kumin as having a “wonderfully consistent tone,” is recognized as one of the best of late twentieth century writers.
Booth’s first collection of poems, Letter from a Distant Land, was named the 1956 Lamont Poetry Selection by the Academy of American Poets. Additional honors include the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine (1955), Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, grants from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1967) and from the National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from Poetry, Saturday Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Poetry Northwest. In 1983, Booth received an Academy of American Poets Fellowship. His 1986 collection Relations earned for him the Maurice English Poetry Award. In 2001, Booth was awarded the Poets’ Prize by the Academy of American Poets.