Tom Phillips: The Poet Rewriting Himself

In today’s post The High Window is continuing its Eastern European theme by featuring the poetry and art collaboration of Tom Phillips and the Bulgarian artist Marina Shiderova.

Colourful Star Profil Pic correct sister (2) Final

Tom Phillips is a poet, playwright and lecturer currently based in Bristol. For the last 10 years, much of his writing has focused on SE Europe where he has worked with a wide variety of writers and artists on cultural exchange and translation projects. He is the founding editor of the annual journal Balkan Poetry Today, publishes Colourful Star, a weekly blog with the painter Marina Shiderova and was a translator-in-residence at the Sofia Literature and Translation House in August 2016. His bilingual book of his own poems originally written in Bulgarian, Nepoznati Prevodi/Unknown Translations, was published by Scalino in Sofia last year and was described by Ian Brinton as ‘refreshingly original’. He and his wife Sarra – a visual artist – are moving to Sofia in September 2017 where they will be working on a variety of projects with Bulgarian writers and artists.

(PS. The editors of THW would also like to flag up Tom’s excellent collection, The Recreation Ground, published by Two Rivers Press).

Further information about Tom and Marina‘s collaboration can be found here.  Finally, we are pleased to announce that Tom is also busy preparing a supplement of Bulgarian poetry for our winter issue.


Tom Phillips: Two Poems from Colourful Star

(Image © Marina Shiderova)


Typically, I find it – this vantage –
on the all-but-last day I’m here.
I should have known. I’ve seen
the chairs put out for passers-by
on the forecourts of shops,
the pensioners with legs akimbo
beside the speckled hearts
of water melon, the graded ranks
of tomatoes. And here,
at the neighbourhood’s edge,
I’m on a chair with wisteria trails
shading out the sunshine
on this almost last day of August,
with the traffic all but gone
and the end-of-season goalmouths
bruising the field where neighbours
walk their dogs. The city –
and its business – is that way,
past the trees whose roots explode
through the pavement, the café,
the cosmetic surgery clinic.
It won’t be long before I go,
but for the moment there’s this chair
and the open space
and that radio on a building site
which is playing a song
that once we thought was ours.


(Image © Marina Shiderova)

Малките вещи вкъщи

She’s already begun, sifting through
what we’ve taken for granted: the beasts
and other ornaments from the years
we’ve been together. She’s stern –
or trying to be – with our memories.
It has to be done. These shelves
which we hardly even noticed
are to be cleared. We’re moving out.

She’s already begun but I can’t imagine
how I’m ever going to get started.



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