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Tom Phillips

Updated: Fri, 26 Oct 2018 08:46 am

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Tom is a poet, playwright and translator living in Sofia, Bulgaria. His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of magazines, anthologies, pamphlets and the full-length collections 'Unknown Translations' (Scalino, 2016), 'Recreation Ground' (Two Rivers Press, 2012) and 'Burning Omaha' (Firewater, 2003). 'Present Continuous' (2018), a pamphlet of poems written in Sofia since moving there in 2017, is freely available to download from his blog, Recreation Ground ( A series of 250 poems written in response to paintings by the visual artist Marina Shiderova over the course of five years can be found at their online project Colourful Star ( Tom translates contemporary Bulgarian poetry and was translator in residence at the Sofia Literature and Translation House in August 2016 ( He is the editor of the annual journal Balkan Poetry Today ( Tom is also a playwright ('100 Miles North of Timbuktu', 'Coastal Defences'), journalist and travel writer. He has taught creative writing at the universities of Reading and Bath Spa and at Bristol Folk House.


Another view from a chair Magpies screak as they stake out the rooftops. Time passes, unbeloved. It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re letting it slip by. The hours hang from hooks like unused human implements or drift at the threshold like fruit trees’ confetti. A chair is a brute fact in the world. It asks to be nothing more than what we find in it – or place on it as we bring it into use: metaphorical composure, a stillness, a comfort, a vantage, a point of view … Nor are the magpies clamouring for attention. Nor is love arguing for a place outside time. A chair sits undisturbed in the yard opposite, its frame and seat flecked with white blossom. Originally published on the blog Colourful Star and in the pamphlet 'Present Continuous' (2018) Life After Wartime Some things never change. The garden bushes wag their beards like arguing theologians while the orange fists of passion fruit take cover in the leaves. The sky aches with unmapped distances and the sun hides nothing. At dusk, it surrenders to the moon. When there’s small-hours muttering in the street remember it’s only someone deciding to go home or go on, pushing the night for the last of the great good times and into a shell-shocked morning after. At least there’s coffee again. It takes our minds off the radio, the smooth-voiced reassurances, the metaphors encrusted like barnacles on every announcement, your almost imperceptible jump at the sound of a pamphlet shoved through the door. Things never change. People wear their silence like a caul. To bring them luck against drowning. They were parents. Or siblings. Or both. They are the ones that nothing surprises, the ones who no longer look up when a jet comes roaring in above the city, framed against the orange sky, picking its way among the towers. Originally published in '100 Poets against the War' (Salt, 2003), 'Burning Omaha' and 'Recreation Ground' (Two Rivers Press, 2012)

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Tom Phillips

Fri 3rd Apr 2015 20:26

Thanks, Graham (somewhat belatedly). Nice to be here.

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Graham Sherwood

Thu 27th Nov 2014 19:52

Hello Tom,
Read a couple of pieces on you blog, very impressive indeed. Good to have you here.

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