Philip Jenks grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, the son of an Episcopalian minister. He attended Reed College, received a MA in creative writing from Boston University in 1993, worked with the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center, and received a PhD in political science. His collections of poetry include On the Cave You Live In (2002), My First Painting Will Be “The Accuser” (2005), the chapbook How Many of You Are You? (2006), and Little Visceral Carnival (2009), a collaborative chapbook with Simone Muench.
In response to Jenks’s poem “Untitled” (“My pinhole weighs a ton”), poet Dan Beachy-Quick commented: “In Jenks’s work, the bewildering ways in which absence presents itself in word and image, and how presence absents itself by the same means, is poetry’s work.” In a review of On the Cave You Live In, Jon Curley noted: “Jenks coalesces his themes around language which is often peripheral in its presumed scope and oblique in its descriptions. Among the artifacts that compose the Jenks universe: the depredations and dignity of Appalachian life, Biblical glosses and vatic tunings, playfully obscure confessions and catastrophic revelations.”
Jenks’s poems have appeared in Rain City Review, Chicago Review, LVNG, and other journals.