Thursday, 30 August 2012

In the meantime ...

Here's what we did this summer: a film and photo montage of the Balkans Peace Park Project summer programme in Vermosh, northern Albania:

Readings for 'Recreation Ground'

Published this summer by Two Rivers Press (, Recreation Ground is now available in book form. The book collects nearly 40 poems written over the last decade or so, including those published in anthologies such as 100 Poets Against The War (Salt, 2003), Babylon Burning (nthposition, 2008) and A Mutual Friend (Two Rivers Press, 2012), as well as material only previously published in magazines or online.
To launch the book, I will be doing a series of readings over the next few months. Dates so far include:

Fri 7 Sept 'The Time of Our Lives', Waterstone's, 89A Broad, St, Reading, 6.30pm, free (but adv booking req'd), with other Two Rivers Press poets including: Adrian Blamires, Samuel Burgess, Elvira Rivers, Kate Behrens, A. F. Harrold, Ian House, Jean Watkins hosted by Peter Robinson. To book a ticket, call 0118 9581270.

Wed 26 Sept The Berkeley Square Poetry Review Show, The Square Club, Berkeley Sq, Clifton, Bristol, 8.30pm, £3 - readings from the book together with a short Q&A.

Mon 1 Oct Alchemy, Napa Bar & Art Gallery, Prokopska 8, Mala Strana, Prague 1, 7.30pm - with Peter Robinson. Ffi:

Wed 7 Nov Word of Mouth, The Thunderbolt, Bath Rd, Bristol (details tbc). Ffi:

Copies of the book will be available at all these events or can be ordered from, Amazon, Waterstone's and elsewhere.

Also forthcoming: an interview in Bristol Review of Books ( this autumn and an appearance on the Oxford Brookes University Poetry Centre website (

Tom Phillips’ first full-length collection navigates terrains which range from Eastern Europe, Australia and the Home Counties to his own back garden in Bristol. From the different perspectives these vantage points offer, it unearths connections between chance meetings and ‘big history’, family stories and the state we’re in. It also looks at poetry itself as a ground on which to recreate – and negotiate with – one thing that nobody can change: the past.

“In Tom Phillips' work, the world is unsettlingly close, whether the poem is set in his home town or at the other end of Europe. Other times, too, are alongside in the present, and echoes of conflict or loss disturb the surfaces of life, which are nonetheless carefully, caringly observed in these intelligent and watchful poems.” Philip Gross

“The landscape of Tom Phillips’s poetry is an ‘unexpected geography’ within the contours of which we are reawakened to recognition that meaning amid a world of war and confusion is to be discovered in the unchanging nature of small things.” Ian Brinton

"Those who have followed Tom Phillips’ steady progression over nearly 30 years value him as, in some real sense, the quietly spoken voice of a generation.’ Tony Lewis-Jones

“Tom Phillips reveals that the distance between oneself and elsewhere is both geographical and ontological. Recreation Ground provides  a poet’s map; there are no shortages of frontiers and the means of travel are various but the journeying out is a way of coming home, a way of measuring the ways in which we occupy place and a recognition that this occupation is mysterious as well as pragmatic. Travelling - both near and  far - opens the senses and defines the traveller. ‘Not Really Climbing the Malvern  Hills’  is full of Larkinesque gesture: ‘Aiming to get away early,/not from everything exactly,/…/we made the first train out of Temple Meads/barely noticing where it would take us:/the slow, stopping service to Malvern.’  The travellers stumble upon an ‘unexpected geography’ whose un-lyrical  conglomeration of ‘stockaded new towns’ and ‘gated gravel driveways’ carve up middle England.
"Donald Davie’s ‘exiguous island’ has long replaced John of Gaunt’s ‘blessed plot’ and Phillips is skilful at donning a poetic veil of modesty, which can be lifted or not accordingly. A view of hills, in ‘Miles Away’ is ‘bisected  by the London train’; earlier ‘the bus never came’ and a walk across the Downs leads to a canny re-evaluation  rather than easy effusion: ‘So much for moving on or growing away./Somehow I’m always partly on the stairs.’ These poems are infinitely resourceful; their poetic readiness allows attenuated gesture to tap into parallel existences and rewarding, if quietly heralded, dislocation. Phillips is good at getting hold of an English psychological  terrain, and this is complemented by his journeys further afield. England/abroad is less a binary opposite than a set of inter-related conversations. Joyce’s Trieste becomes a study of imperial tristesse (‘Dubliners on the Adriatic’), and  in ‘Here After All’  the poet asks, under ‘pink stucco facades’ and almost unexpectedly at ease, as he watches the  passing trams, whether it’s time ‘to turn for home?’ Home, too, is merely a geographical  expression and Recreation Ground is not about leisure, it’s about the frisson of existence.” Julian Stannard