Friday, 28 February 2014

Baba Marta

For the first of March, you say. Чеctиtа Баба Марtа! 
Among bolts of bright fabric, embroidered shirts, painted bowls, carved spoons, in the shop at the Ethnographic Institute in Sofia, you’re telling me about martenitsi – these woven red and white bands. Warding off winter, heralding spring, these twists of thread keep Baba Marta happy. Grandma March likes red.  

Season of snowdrops and crocus, birdsong and breezes, unexpected frosts and click-clacking branches like stripped umbrellas – March is capricious. Wants trust. Demands to be placated.

On wrists, lapels, fruit trees, rose bushes, iron winter ends in red and white. 

In Bulgaria, 1 March is Baba Marta or March Day when red-and-white amulets or martenitsi are given as a sign that winter is over. 

Images & martenitsi: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Friday, 21 February 2014


Three, as in Chekhov.
Mottled, impatient,
are they waiting
for the right offer?
For some soldier-boys
to take them away?
For the moment,
they look happy enough
exactly where they are.

Friday, 14 February 2014

14 February: Wine Day and Valentine's Day

In Britain, the 14th February is St Valentine's Day, but in Bulgaria it's also Wine Day, so here's a double set of paintings and poems to mark both occasions ...

Still Life with Wine

Life’s blood, raw colour.
Between one sip and another,
potential, truth or lies.
You could say that, I suppose –
but, go on, pour me another glass.


Belief in it may be enough:
perhaps that is all you need –
and the luck of two who can see,
the faith of two who hold on.

Friday, 7 February 2014

House on the Hill

Somewhere someone will know these four walls
perched on the cusp of rocks and sky.
The path will have been walked.
Traces of us are everywhere.
Stories gather inside, waiting to be released.