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Catharsis in The Ambulance Box


I’ve just seen that the latest Magma e-newsletter includes a rather lovely mention of The Ambulance Box in Jacqueline Saphra’s article on catharsis in poetry. She says:

There are countless poems or collections that successfully achieve the cathartic effect — for me at least — so I thought I’d do a whistle-stop tour of just some of what I’d term my own ‘cathartic greatest hits’

And I am deeply honoured that my book is among them, not least because she puts me in some pretty exalted company: the rest of her list is Blake’s “Tyger, Tyger”, Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan”, Ginsberg’s “Kaddish”, Plath’s “Daddy”, Ann Sexton’s “Again and Again and Again”, Cesar Vallejo’s “Black Stone on top of White Stone”  and Jo Shapcott’s “I Go Inside the Tree” from her latest collection, Of Mutability, which I have still yet to read.

Here is what Jacqueline has to say about The Ambulance Box:

I was swept away by Andrew Philip’s recent collection ‘The Ambulance Box’ as a whole, but also by individual poems. The elegy ‘Lullaby’, just eight lines long, written for a baby who died, culminates in the couplet

this is the man you fathered —
his voided love, his writhen pride and grief

Perhaps it’s the word ‘fathered’ recast, and then the Anglo-Saxon ‘writhen’ carrying with it the weight of history, that together generate such charge.

I can only thank Jacqueline for such kind words. It means an enormous amount to know that poems such as “Lullaby”, which come out of such darkness for us as a family, touch others profoundly.

You can sign up to the Magma newsletter on this page if you haven’t already. It contains a lead article, short-but-not-too-short reviews and a subscriber’s workshop. And it’s free, so what are you waiting for?!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/03/2011 04:51

    Those two lines have always spoken to me deeply as well, Andy.

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      08/03/2011 22:04

      That makes perfect sense and means an immeasurable amount, Robert.

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