Andrew Philip - The North End of the Possible
- Colin Begg
- 17 April 2013
Collection of poems of love, place and politics highlights Philip’s considerable formal talents
Salt cements its reputation for fresh contemporary poetry with this much-anticipated second full collection from acclaimed Scottish poet Andrew Philip. Humour and invention are mainstays of Philip’s work, and in both English and Scots, his wit leads us gently into a nuanced exploration of existence, remoteness and belonging.
The book starts and ends with further exploits of MacAdam: not the Ayr-born inventor of modern road surfacing, rather the inscrutable, ludic character who haunted Philip’s first collection The Ambulance Box. Our enigmatic hero recycles moons and constructs a garden shed accelerator to discover ‘the fundamental particle of night’. Later, ‘clean out of Red Bull’, he’s wading into nocturnal surf, questioning hope in a Kafkaesque jail, and enduring an interrogation of surreal non-sequiturs.
The central section highlights Philip’s considerable formal talents with poems of love, place and politics, especially in his delicate exploration of a decade-long marriage, ‘10x10’. Truly European – referencing Gaelic, German and Swedish - Philip also ranks among the best current Scots poets: his brilliantly funny, Burns-pastiche excoriation of bad Edinburgh buskers is worth the cover price alone.