Dancing+in+the+Streets%3a+A+Review+of+Andy+Christ%27s+Philip+%26+the+Poet


Philip & the Poet
Poems by Andy Christ
Mayapple Press, 2008
28 pages

In Philip & the Poet, Christ expertly fuses philosophy, his faith and introspection with wordplay and vivid imagery. His poems are playful and engaging while at the same time, incredibly thought-provoking pieces that resonate in your mind long after you've finished their closing sentences.

Christ's poems are full of colorful snapshots of people, the poems themselves bearing the brightness of Polaroid moments. Along the journey, we meet monks in Tibet, Fyodor Dostoyevsky at a dinner party, and even God.  In the title poem "Philip and the Poet," we are swept away with feelings of nostalgia as the speaker recalls watching a young boy dive into the water with a head full of imagination:

there goes Philip in my memory,
Trotting toward the water,
calling out, "To the Netherlands!" or maybe "To China!"

The appeal of Christ's poetry also lies in the scope of its variety, both of subject matter and tone, as well as the moments of universality in which we see ourselves mirrored. In "Driving Home," the speaker converses with God as he examines feelings about self and purpose:

Trust in my Word.
My Word goes out and does not return
until it is fulfilled," says God.
Is life like that too? I go out and don't
return until I am fulfilled?" I ask.
God smiles at me and winks.

"Reverie" reads like an intimate love poem filled with every day images, much like a Ted Kooser valentine. Far away from the object of his affection, the speaker laments in the final stanza: "…and the lights on the ground / are nothing like your eyes." We feel for the young man and relate easily to his predicament.

Yet "Groupthink" comes across as the poetic equivalent of a Dali painting with a mysterious pull on the reader, who is introduced to the poem's character in the opening line, "A neon-yellow fish steps out / of its vehicle…"

All in all, Christ muses on war and love, literature and philosophy, past and present in a voice that ranges from being comfortingly familiar to challengingly exotic. Each poem is like a gift waiting to be opened. By book's end, we have found Andy Christ to be not only a poet, but storyteller and prophet, both the boy next door and the sage on the mountain.

© Amy L. George, 2009