Henderson, Phil 1967- (Philip Lewis Henderson, Philip Lewis)

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Henderson, Phil 1967- (Philip Lewis Henderson, Philip Lewis)


Born November 2, 1967, in Atlanta, GA; son of Stephen E. (an academic) and Jeanne H. (a homemaker) Henderson. Ethnicity: "Afro-American." Education: Howard University, B.F.A., 1992.


E-mail—[email protected]




(Under pseudonym Philip Lewis) Life of Death (novel), Fiction Collective Two (Boulder, CO), 1993.

Extreme Curves (fiction), Amerotica (New York, NY), 2004.

(Under pseudonym Philip Lewis) Nathan's Follies (fiction), Back House Books (Adelphi, MD), 2006.

Contributor to Fast Talk, Full Volume: An Anthology of African-American Poetry, Gut Punch Press (Cabin John, MD), 1993. Contributor to periodicals, including Black Ice, Konch, and African-American Review, under both common name and pseudonym, Philip Lewis. Founding editor of the student periodical Cafe Noir, 1991-93, editor of its online edition, 1999—.


Phil Henderson told CA: "I have been a professional writer since 1985, and I published my first piece with Black Ice magazine in 1989. While Life of Death was basically whipped out in longhand over a period of four months (September to December, 1987), "Nate" took five whole years, and eight different drafts. The first and second drafts are radically different from the final one. This novel didn't come to me in a flash; it had to be forced out, bit by bit, as if I were in prolonged labor. It had been in my head since the end of the 1980s; I had to grow into the material before I could creatively use it. Life of Death, a novel about dishwashers, was in fact a kind of early version of "Nate."

"In spite of all the other side jobs I've taken in the past twenty years to earn a living, from busboy to dishwasher, to pinup artist to seaman to pornographer to clerk to temp to shelf stocker, I have always considered myself a writer and artist, first and foremost. All that other stuff is not important.

"Why do I write? Because—period. This is something I have to do. By writing, I make myself visible. Writing is my way of articulating things that I might not in ordinary conversation. It makes life more worthwhile to articulate, via pen and paper, the absurd goings-on in the world around me. It's a form of meditation, an exorcism of past demons. With writing, one is in control of one's own reality.

"But writing isn't just a catharsis. It has to be shaped from crude, undefined feeling spat out on the page into a kind of art. Like a good jazz musician, a good writer crafts a thing of beauty out of the sloppiest emotions.

Andre Gide once wrote of Louis-Ferdinand Celine that it wasn't reality that Celine depicted, but the hallucinations that reality provokes. I depict both the reality and the hallucination because—nowadays—the reality and the hallucination are often one and the same.

"Writing is not merely a corroboration of a given reality. It can also define that reality, if persuasive enough. Real writers give voice to sentiments that might otherwise go unspoken, to people, place, and things that might otherwise be invisible."



African American Review, spring, 1996, Jerome Klinkowitz, review of Life of Death, p. 148.

Village Voice, November 30, 1993, James Hannaham, review of Life of Death, p. 58.

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