Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Start of a poem putatively called 'Showing off about railway stations'

Under high stucco ceilings,
we can't help but mention
we're breakfasting
in the cafe at Budapest Keleti.
You're not here - but these students
and luminescent festival-goers
are forming a picturesque backdrop.
Did I say we'd finally arrived?
Oh, look, it's the Trans-Siberian.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Start of a poem putatively called 'The comfort of railway stations'

Under high stucco ceilings,
we're stifling over ham and eggs
in the cafe at Budapest Keleti.
We've only just arrived
among American students,
festival-goers whose luminescent wristbands
evangelise this stock-shot gathering
in an otherwise vacant ticket hall.
The connection for the Trans-Siberian
flick-flacks on the departure board.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Radio interview

Ann Kennard from the Balkans Peace Park and I were interviewed on Radio Bristol about the project's summer programme in Albania on Sunday (20 May) and can still be heard until Sat 26 May at iPlayer here (if you fast forward to 2hrs in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001mnwc

Thursday, 17 May 2012

You make things sound good

You make things sound good.
I don't trust that.
Even though you must do it,
I can't imagine you
lolling on the sofa,
eating takeaway meals,
putting out the recycling bin.

There is a limit
to how much I believe
of what you're telling me.

You'll say it's only suggestion
but there you are, in print,
suggesting what you say
is true, is permanent.

Copyright Tom Phillips 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Positively Dickensian

The London Magazine's review of A Mutual Friend: Poems for Charles Dickens is now online here: http://tworiverspress.com/wp/review-the-london-magazines-review-of-a-mutual-friend-poems-for-charles-dickens/
Published by Two Rivers Press and edited by Peter Robinson, the anthology includes poems about/in response to Dickens and his work in a wide variety styles by a wide variety of poets - and is out now. Contributors include Paul Muldoon, George Szirtes, Alison Brackenbury, Fred D'Aguiar, Sean O'Brien, John Hegley, Elaine Feinstein, Ian Duhig, Carol Rumens, John Fuller, Moniza Alvi. You'll find my offering amongst those of the Our Mutual Friend gang (Conor Carville and others) in the form of the Gaffer Hexham-referencing 'Found in the River'.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Recreation Ground: the book

Reading's Two Rivers Press are publishing my full-length collection Recreation Ground in the autumn. In the interim, I'll be reading poems from the book at:

Poetry and a Pint, St James' Wine Vaults, Bath, Monday 14 May (from 8pm)

and at

The Museum of English Rural Life, Reading, Saturday 19 May (from 6.30pm).

Here's a not particularly typical poem from that collection:


All through her second wedding, your sister carried white lilies.
She chose Psalm 23 and we duly mumbled
‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’,
thinking this is more like a funeral
and trying not to giggle at the serious bits.
You dug me in the ribs and said,
with more feeling than you meant,
that this is what passes for life in Portishead.

Outside – we nipped out for a fag during ‘Abide With Me’,
tip-toeing past weeping aunts and teenage sons
in suits they’d bought for work experience
(a row of bulging parcels waiting for collection) –
outside you breathed again and then you said
how glad you were you’d escaped
what passes for life in Portishead.

And when you kissed me in the graveyard
with its blots of dead confetti like giant flakes of dandruff,
I was thinking: Yes, thank God, thank God,
if it hadn’t been for this town’s deep chill,
its icy politeness and evening classes,
its Sunday lunch drinks and over-cooked roasts,
the dismal rain on the Lake Grounds of a Saturday night,
if it hadn’t been for the gossip which spread
like a bushfire when you dyed your hair red
and started hanging out with unsuitable types
who played in punk bands like Chaos UK
or limped along the high street on farting Vespas –
if it hadn’t been for this town’s desire
to disapprove of all it didn’t understand,
you’d never have run for Cornwall and the sea,
you’d never have run for a place to call your own
and you’d never have run into me.
In the doorway of the church, I almost smiled and I almost said:
there are so many reasons I’m grateful
for what passes for life in Portishead. 

An uncertain ratio?

My friend Steve Wright explores the post-punk musical landscape with some good choices and erudite commentary here: http://thewordsandmusic.blogspot.co.uk/