The Truth about Birmingham
Updated: Mar 8
Dedicated to Philip Hill, my friend and Poet
I met Phil and his incredible, courageous beautiful wife Geraldine in the mid 1990’s in Birmingham Uk. We shared a few things in common, namely the struggle with severe mental illness and our attempts at adaptation to the world that had broken us at various points in time during our lives.
Phil was already writing prolifically, both autobiographic prose and poetry. His early poems spoke of the love and gratitude he had for his wife as well as the difficulties he had navigating a way in the world as someone with a severe psychiatric diagnosis.
Life in Birmingham for many is not easy, it’s vast and unfriendly; there are many strangers. People struggle for food, homes, jobs, money and to feel happy. And yet, there, in those midst's true pearls of wisdom can be found. They are not obvious, not easily seen, but through all the angst, the lamentation, the drudgery of everyday life, a poet such as Phil, digs deeply into the realms of our shared experience and existence to find true light and real love.
No-one knows it like the person who has lived in Birmingham, the place that people know of but mainly to have only ever ‘driven through’. To live there you can’t help but feel the desolation and deprivation, no matter how brave a face you put on it.
Step by step through adversity, Brummies hold the key to the strongest and most nourishing love there is. So much so that I believe it has the power to take on the world. Anyone who can access this divine source in whatever creative form it comes, will find their lives enlivened and enriched beyond anything you thought might be possible.
Such is the mystery of life, the mystery of Birmingham. A place that was nothing a few centuries ago, maybe a homestead here and there and routes through and around it. The place we know now came about through the provision of heavy industry; vast and cruel factories. I know Satan is in Birmingham, he’s in the museum (he really is, and it’s significant, believe me).
Phil Hill’s book of poems speaks of loneliness, fright, alienation and the deepest darkness in a world full of people and yet there it is, it’s there all along, a source of strength and nourishment, an undying love for all things and of all things.
Fantastic poetry, I know you will enjoy them as I have, and that you will feel glad for the people and the place, Birmingham, where Phil and others have held the precious pearls of wisdom and looked after them.