Next Event -- DATE CHANGE

For Carrie Etter's reading, we've had to change the date from the 24th May to Monday 23rd May. Same time (8pm), same place (The Punter) with an open mike as usual. Full details to follow...

Andrew Philip and Rob Mackenzie - Tuesday 26th April

As spring masquerades into summer, our links page is updated with events coming up imminently (15-17th April) and in June, and there are only two more readings in our own programme before the summer break. The first of these is a double-bill on Tuesday 26th April with Andrew Philip and Rob Mackenzie.

Andrew Philip’s first book of poems, The Ambulance Box, was published in spring 2009 by Salt; shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust First Book Award 2010 and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2009; and highly commended in the 2009 Forward anothology. It follows two successful poetry pamphlets with HappenStance Press: Tonguefire (2005) and Andrew Philip: A Sampler (2008). A seasoned performer of his own work, Andrew has given readings and led workshops throughout the UK, from Orkney to London. He has also written “Sound and Rhythm”, a worksheet for the Scottish Poetry Library‘s ideas box, and his introduction to writing poetry is one of the most popular pages at the Crafty Writer.

'This is a powerful debut, and Andrew Philip's is a significant new voice.' Michael Symmons Roberts on The Ambulance Box

Andrew was born in 1975 in Aberdeen, north-east Scotland and grew up in a former mining village near Falkirk in the Scottish central belt. After leaving school, he lived in Berlin for a short spell, returning to Scotland studying linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. He now lives in Linlithgow, West Lothian and works part time for the Scottish Parliament’s official report. [website] [page on Salt website]


Someone was standing in the middle of the road.
She stood astride it, just beyond
the blind spot on a sharp, countryside bend,
so hidden that I nearly ran her over.
At first, she seemed an ordinary figure
— jeans, a fitted t-shirt, long brown hair —
but for the confidence with which she stood
where any car would slam straight into her.
Almost as soon as we jerked to a halt
and I got out the car to remonstrate,
the space around her ruptured
with the opening of wings
as colourful as the flocks of paradise.
She stretched her hand towards me, said
I know you’ll take good care of it and poured
from her palm into mine a sleeping child,
scarcely the size of a nut and sprouting
from its belly a shoot topped off by a tiny leaf.
I tried to ask the obvious questions, but she
folded herself from our vision.
I felt her gift stir slightly, though it slept
as soundly as it does now in my hand.
How can I drive on with this entrusted to me?
I’m rooted here, keeping watch
on the growth of what is planted in my palm —
this difficult, unasked-for joy.

Andrew Philip

Rob A. Mackenzie was born and brought up in Glasgow. He received a law degree from Aberdeen University and then abandoned the possibility of significant personal wealth by switching to theology at Edinburgh University. He wrote over seven hundred songs and doubled on guitar and saxophone for cult art-rock bands Pure Television and Plastic Chicken. Despite airplay on Radio Scotland and a rash of gigs in tiny Glasgow pubs, he failed miserably to achieve rock stardom. He spent a year in Seoul, eight years in a Lanarkshire housing scheme, five years in Turin, and now lives in Edinburgh with his wife and daughter where he organises the Poetry at the Great Grog reading series by night and works as a Church of Scotland minister by day.

'Rob A. Mackenzie’s vibrant, kaleidoscopic poetry displays a playful, witty and fertile imagination' Bernardine Evaristo

His pamphlet collection, The Clown of Natural Sorrow, was published by HappenStance Press in 2005, and The Opposite of Cabbage was published this year by Salt Publishing. His poems, articles and criticism have featured in many literary publications over the last decade or so. He is an associate editor with Magma magazine. [page on Salt website]

Tuesday 26th April, The Punter, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30pm Readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £4/£3.


We staggered down the via della Guerra, the wind
snatching at the bedlam of each overflowing bin,
and you told me of voices crowding your head
like sharp stones, as if the entire street had moved in
with simultaneous post-theatre analysis, girls on boys
and boys on girls, drunk sermons on the brink
of violence, and how often the confusion
made more sense than a single, real voice,
including mine — a gloss which left me speechless
as we entered the bar and your beer order
was understood despite the anarchy
of discourse drifting to the ceiling fan,
which is where most conversations drift
and spin at a height and resonance
just beyond reach, along the wiry ventricles
of the city’s brain, before settling
for that rented room where my reply, finally
and dutifully performed, is already dulling
to a murmur beneath the bed’s bright quilt.

Rob A. Mackenzie