Colin Phillips

Fighting Cancer with Culture: The Colin Phillips Project

You might remember that last year my old friend Colin Phillips passed away after a long battle with cancer. We went to university together, and had known each other for over thirty years.

Colin Phillips by Nick Simington
Colin Phillips – Portrait by Nick Simington

Colin was one of those people that are just larger than life. Even now, almost a year after his death, it’s still difficult to really believe that he’s gone. He was like a character from the pages of Conrad or Kipling, or even Dickens, a dissident intellectual, a traveller, and a man whose wit, wisdom and generosity of spirit enriched the lives of everyone who knew him. Marxist, existentialist, piss artist and cyclist, Colin was a man who transcended his humble origins to seek out a richer cultural life in India, where he met and married the love of his life. He was immensely well-read, and fluent in half-a-dozen European and Asian languages. He liked a smoke, a drink and a song, and his tales got taller with every telling, though nearly all of them were true. He was a great raconteur, but although his friends always nagged him to write an autobiography and publishers wanted travel narratives, he was above all else a poet.

When he died, he left behind boxes full of unpublished manuscript poetry. Colin’s wife, Gulcheher, put Gracie and I in charge of this material, and we are slowly beginning to collate, edit and transcribe it, with a view to eventual publication. As a first step, we have set up a website where we’ll be posting poems by Colin regularly. The Colin Phillips Project is intended to celebrate the life and work of this remarkable man, bringing his poetry to a wider audience, while also raising awareness for those suffering from or affected by cancer in all its forms, and raising money to fight this terrible disease.

This is a large editorial undertaking, of which this website is the first stage, and we will continue to add new poems to it as we edit and transcribe them. Colin left behind thousands of pages of unsorted writing, most of it poetry. The manuscripts are mostly typed and then edited by hand, and there are multiple drafts of many of the poems. We are working towards producing an anthology of Colin’s select poetry, provisionally entitled The Last of the Soho Poets with any profits to be donated to Cancer Research UK in Colin’s name. Looking forward, we also hope to release additional volumes, which will either be arranged according to theme or period, again with all profits going to Cancer Research UK.

This is a big job, and we are presently working voluntarily and independently. We are now seeking funding by donation to continue. This will cover time and basic expenses only, with any other monies going to Cancer Research UK. You can find details of how to donate on the website.

If you could check it out and spread the word we’d be very grateful. Please like and share to fight cancer with culture!

With thanks for your support…

Steve and Gracie

You can find the website Colin Phillips: The Last of the Soho Poets here

For my obituary of Colin please click here

To make a donation, please go to the website and click the ‘Donate’ tab

For more details on the project, please feel free to email me at: stephen.carver@unthankschool.com

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