Carl Phillips' first collection, In The Blood, was heralded as the work of an outstanding newcomer in the field of contemporary poetry. Gay, African-American, and a respected scholar of Greek and Latin classical languages, Phillips brings a unique vantage point to his work. Informed by this prismatic background, his new book, Cortège, is concerned with the various directions that desire can take, and in particular seeks to explore that point at which the flesh and spirit intersect, addressing an inclusive audience of all human experience. Is it possible to sustain any kind of substantial lasting joy in the sexual world? The answer, says Phillips, is yes—but only after a kind of journey through the same hopes and fears that any epic hero seems to have. Self-doubt must be confronted, failures must be overcome—in other words, a general passing through death or its equivalent—and then, finally, an arrival at a success gained via lessons learned. Through this lens, Phillips offers a new understanding of how the struggle between flesh and spirit can be resolved—and how that understanding can in turn yield the courage to confront a sexual world that is often intimidating but now tempered though a newfound wisdom.