Victoria reading at the 2019 Underground Arts Fair
We here at the Windward Review are proud to debut our next Author's Spotlight, showcasing the powerful work of writer and contributor Victoria Phillips! Writing out of East Texas, Victoria is a force of nature in the state's literary community, featured at a variety of events and having her work published in a variety of magazines and journals, including The Windward Review.
Her work champions the inner strength, the soul of spoken-word style poetry, and the intimacy of human relationships; all while challenging our traditionally-held views on writing, opting to spread her deeply personal work as forms of release and political activism. Make no mistake, Victoria's work is profound and rooted in an extraordinarily-crafted real, and each piece is convincing of her deep understanding and mastery of the craft.
I hope you enjoy Victoria's work as much as we do!
TWO YEARS IN DALLAS II
You are lost to me, aren't you, Love? You do not see me standing here painted and posed in my prettiest dress
Straining to catch your attention affection anything to remind me WHY I live here in this hell-hole with you, Why I stripped my voice of all inflection gathered your words into my mouth and hungrily swallowed your will.
You stare back eyes unclear pupils dilated in the rush. I strain to recall their real color or how the tiny lines around them would crinkle when you'd smile, But it has been so long since you smiled at me.
You know, I wish it were a woman, At least then I might feel I could try!
I could arch my back and swing my hips and touch you with soothing hands.
But this? this powdered polluted unreality that you pull inside yourself... So passionate! so passionate about everything else. Is it because I am a constant? I've always been there and always will be No buzz whirl zip zing snort huff pay puff I am like the coffee grounds you spilled by the sink used up and annoying waiting.
And SMACK! CRACK! You’re losing weight again Your pale skin stretches sickly over bones that poke my hand Spiteful, mocking, sharp, little bones for they are always with you while I may only touch you when at last you sleep.
I've finished cleaning now again Finished stepping over the bodies of your newest coke-fiend friends emaciated and drooling on the shit-stained floor That I must clean and scrub and scour to keep some semblance of sane.
The rent’s not paid the door's been kicked in and the cops are waiting down the street.
But I stand here cooking (knowing you won't eat) I stand here cooking (flour-water biscuits, no money for meat) I stand here cooking because it's all I can do
Because I'm addicted to loving I'm a junkie too.
Victoria with her fiance, JC Cook--a local activist and current mayoral candidate in Athens, TX.
Victoria performing at The Forge
Titles published by Dr. Charlotte Renk, with Victoria serving as the editor
Nervous now Because my apologies don’t work And though they do mean I give a fuck That will never be enough for a failed messianic Who loathes the look of his own humanity Thus must be the judge of mine.
Activism serving as both a vital part of Victoria's life and a catalyst for her masterful work, Victoria was in attendance protesting a Trump rally in Dallas, TX
Performing collaborative piece, "Sisters of Courage" with mother Charlotte Renk and Claire Phillips-Latham at Langdon Review Weekend in Stephenville, TX.
DEBTOR, HOLY UNBOUND
Tell me again that I owe you. You must have overlooked my payments in the seeping box beneath your bed: my left arm, gnarled and smashed, that will never again be a dancer’s arm, arcing through gentle air. It will never lift a crying child to calm.
I have learned to discern the different daily pains indicating permanent nerve death-- indicating further uselessness. I taught classes in a cast that year before you decided my career, too, would be much better casketed-- along with every need for which you’d make me swear and grovel to prove no impropriety as you crafted betrayal into tiny knots that still fester under my skin. (The box is rather filled with blood, but you never seemed to mind that.)
See, also, my dead dog, killed for my disobedience-- the audacity to march with women in Washington when you said I should not. My sign said, “Hatred broke my arm. Please don’t let it break my country.” It did anyway, so check carefully, my faith is tucked between my dog’s front paws. It was always small, but so was he. Did he cry like I did when you hurt him?
My childless belly, my ruined face, my ability to discern the voice of God, my errant heart that was always strong until it learned from you how it feels to be dangled and swung by ankles, afraid my head would hit the walls right before it did. Your hand around my throat, squeezing, and I will never not know now what is to see love grown rancid as I am wrenched and thrown down the crumbling hall.
So tell me again that I owe you, as I learn to dance faceless, armless, childless, and faithless; lifting my shaking fist in full and open revolt! Tell me, again, as you hold this box of blood and I walk away on bones that somehow still sing holy.
Victoria Phillips, M.A, is an active and outspoken creative force in our region. She has been published in Writing Texas, Rio Review, theywhosearch, and the Lake Country Gazette among other publications earlier in her career. Prior to the ongoing pandemic, Victoria was a featured reader at Langdon Review Weekend, the Mellow Daze of Summer concert, Vermin Supreme's Cirque du Pone, the Underground Arts Festival, and at The Forge in Ben Wheeler.
Victoria has also pursued the professional elements of the industry, serving as the Poetry Coordinator for the Underground Arts Festival in 2018 with guest Michelle Hartman, and as Editor for her mother, Dr. Charlotte Renk's collections of poetry (featured above). Her teaching experience includes college-level English, adult education, community literacy, as well as private tutoring.
Victoria was also the editor of Dr. Amanullah Khan's work, a renowned international poet and medical researcher.