Philip Gross

author for adults and children

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A FOLD IN THE RIVER by Philip Gross and Valerie Coffin-Price

Review from Wales Arts Review: Unsurprisingly, the book, is, in itself, a compelling aesthetic object, both in feel and presentation. Price’s art work and Gross’s poems are combined in riverine and arresting ways that immediately hook the reader. You travel the Taff with both artist and poet, as they bear witness to its many manifestations and the residue of its history. Gross makes an engaging guide in a series of poems that flow from surface to depths and back, linking the origins of the river, its industrial past and its elemental properties. His tone typically intimate, conversational, balancing a philosopher’s finesse with wit and precise observation that always delivers its ancient topic in a memorably fresh light. Price’s graphics create a sense of linear propulsion, as if you are in a boat, passing through one experience of the river to the next in a shifting equation of light, mood, memory, and cultural trace.
click to read the whole article.

Coming to South Wales, TS Eliot-Prize winning poet Philip Gross lived on the banks of the River Taff near Quakers Yard. Here, his poems and journals from that encounter meet the visual responses of artist Valerie Coffin Price grounded, through walking, in an immediate engagement with place. Together they in-fold past and present landscapes, in a subtle creative conversation with each other’s art and ways of seeing, as well as with the river itself. The result is A Fold in the River, a stunning collection of poetry and original artwork.

For festival performances: Philip Gross reads from the poems, and then opens out a discussion with Valerie Price about the different ways of seeing artists and writers bring to the world. Valerie brings insights from her career as a walking artist, immersed in nature. They can bring a powerpoint presentation of the book’s images, subject to facilities, and can also provide an exhibition of the artwork if space permits.

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DEEP FIELD by Philip Gross

A Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2012

"a powerful and tender successor to the T S Eliot prize-winning The Water Table’ ‘The writing is sinewy, urgent and resourceful. This poet is a master of form, deploying his visual and aural patterns for emphasis, as if the page were a musical score…. The collection evokes an essence of what it is to be human, the sense of both wonder and estrangement, our place within science, the sheer oddness of who we are. Deep Field is as strong in celebration as in lamentation. With language as its theme, it soars linguistically."
PBS Bulletin - selectors’ comments

Philip Gross's previous collection, the T. S. Eliot Prize­winning The Water Table, suggested a deepening vision based on focused contemplation of the world and our place - or lack of place - within it. This new collection takes us deeper still, sustaining with extra­ordinary virtuosity a series of meditative variations on the related themes of language and wordlessness, human existence and the loss of identity.’
Jem Poster, in Planet

In his nineties Philip Gross’s father, a wartime refugee, began to lose his several languages, first to deafness, then profound aphasia. Deeply thought as well as deeply felt, these poems reach into that gulf to find him – through recovery of histories both spoken and unspoken as well as an excavation of the spoken word itself.

Readers who admired Philip Gross’s subtlety and range in his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection The Water Table will find those qualities brought to a new human urgency in the compelling sequences of Deep Field.

‘This book speaks directly to the heart of Lapidus concerns with how language can convey, transcend and re-enchant human experience. Philip Gross has not only honoured his father but created something of great beauty and wonder out from those final wordless years.’
Victoria Field, in Lapidus Journal

Philip Gross reads two poems from Deep Field, his latest collection of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books - see below.

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THE WATER TABLE by Philip Gross

Winner of the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2009

'A book of great clarity and concentration, continually themed but always lively and alert in its use of language. Gross takes us from Great Flood to subtly invoked concerns for our watery planet; this is a mature and determined book, dream-like in places, but dealing ultimately with real questions of human existence'
Simon Armitage, T.S. Eliot Prize judge's comment.

"Haunting, vividly imagined poems, whose fierce intelligence is gentled by the sonorous grace of the language ... A considerable poetic talent offers us an elegant and subtle re-evaluation of the modern world"Sarah Crown, The Guardian

"Some of the poems are marvellous, not because they are brave about their subject, not even because of the technique on display, but because they are electrifyingly well observed and beautifully written" David Morley, Poetry Review

A powerful and ambiguous body of water lies at the heart of these poems, with shoals and channels that change with the forty-foot tide. Even the name is fluid - from one shore, the Bristol Channel, from the other Môr Hafren, the Severn Sea.

Philip Gross's meditations move with subtle steps between these shifting grounds and those of the man-made world, the ageing body and that ever-present mystery, the self. Admirers of his work know each new collection is a new stage; this one marks a crossing into a new questioning, new clarity and depth.

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I SPY PINHOLE EYE by Philip Gross and Simon Denison

Winner of the Wales Book of the Year award 2010

cover of I SPY PINHOLE EYE by Philip Gross

"What Denison presents ­ the dark rootings of steel and concrete; the feeling of something slamming into the earth, establishing its narrow vocabulary of grass, stone, mould, leaf, strut, and the strange, focused moony chill that freezes everything ­ moves through the clarity, steadiness and humaneness of Philip Gross's verbal imagination to create something new. And that, after all, is the idea: the making new, the exploration, or apprehension of the way things are too much and terrible ... there always being something else under and beyond the changing names of things." From the Preface by George Szirtes

This collaborative work of poems and photographs addresses ideas of perception, revelation and truth. The camera sees differently from the human eye, yet suggests what might be perceived if we could only see more deeply, more imaginatively, than we normally do. Simon Denison uses a pinhole camera to photograph the most mundane of objects ­ the footings of electricity pylons ­ and so transfigures them into dark poetic images that release worlds of association. Philip Gross's poems step back inside the eye of the pinhole camera to explore the act of seeing and interpretation, in work that is meditative, playful and profound.

See Simon Denison's website for more information and sample pictures and poems

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THE EGG OF ZERO by Philip Gross

Shortlisted for the Roland Matias Prize 2006

cover of THE EGG OF ZERO by Philip Gross

"Philip Gross knows how to make silence and suggestion resonate ... he touches an alien, intractable dimension ... Gross's poems are about lost bearings and blurred frontiers" Terry Eagleton, Independent on Sunday

"He should be recognised as one of England's very best poets, not only for the exuberance of his imagination, but because of what he is writing about" John Greening, Times Literary Supplement

The zero at the heart of these poems is not nothing - not simply absence, forgetting or loss, though there are moving elegies among them.

This is the not-quite-definable O that gives surprising edge to life and language round it. By turns meditative, subtle, searching, playful and direct, this is poetry to engage the heart and mind.

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MAPPA MUNDI by Philip Gross

A Poetry Book Society Recommendation

cover of MAPPA MUNDI by Philip Gross

"Nature, people, the obscurities of one's self, yield up their otherness in those epiphanic moments when Gross' peripheral eyesight catches them off guard.

His is a voice that is mordant, obsessive, compelling - but nonetheless grateful for the rewards of living..."
Poetry Book Society Bulletin

The medieval Mappa Mundi showed the real world hedged about with wonders.

These new poems are as vividly observed and sometimes fabulous as travellers' tales of antiquity.

Like those creatures in the margins of old maps they are hybrids of real longings, truth and lies.

To read an extract from the title poem, see the poems page

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Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

cover of CHANGES OF ADDRESS by Philip Gross

"...he should be recognized as one of England's very best poets, not only for the exuberance of his imagination, but because of what he is writing about.

An urban poet, who knows the rural mythologies and lost Romantic instincts, he has fixed many transient details of modern life for his readers;

but he also speaks, often playfully, and always with a consummate formal control, of a sense of nothingness...'
Times Literary Supplement

From its opening page - a refugee's first sight of England - this book presents a journey through our times, a search for the meaning of 'home'.

With its humour and deep honesty, its vivid storytelling, its sense of history and brilliant observations of the here-and-now, this book of poems is as rich and multi-layered as a novel.

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Backlist titles

The following books are out of print, although many of their poems appear in CHANGES OF ADDRESS.
If you would like to purchase copies direct from the author, please email for prices and availablility.

THE WASTING GAME by Philip Gross

a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize

cover of THE WASTING GAME by Philip Gross

"Throughout this vigilant and human collection, Gross engages us in the drama of his poetry's self-aware twists and turns, as it explores unsimple feelings of loss, apprehension and love."
Times Literary Supplement

"These are elegies for the living, piercing in their clarity and depth of feeling."
Helen Dunmore


Includes the much anthologised and broadcast title sequence about anorexia, as well as sequences about Estonia and life and love.

Philip talks about The Wasting Game in an interview for the Poetry Society. Follow this link to download a pdf of the interview: Poetry Society


Published by Bloodaxe 1998 ISBN 1-85224-479-8 paperback £6.95

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A CAST OF STONES by Philip Gross

cover of A CAST OF STONES by Philip Gross

"...a contemporary response to the power of two famous ancient circles.

John Eaves' brooding pictures of Stonehenge draw poet Philip Gross into a game of shadows, at once playful and perceptive.

A medieval tragedy is the narrative thread for Gross' exploration of Avebury, treading a line between past and present, fact and fiction, irony and celebration, loss and love: a sensual vision mirrored in F.J.Kennedy's lively paintings..."
Mike Pitts, author of 'Hengeworld'


Beautifully illustrated, this book is a collaboration with two fine and very different artists,

Questions and suggestions weave round the mysteries of Avebury and Stonehenge.

Follow this link for an interview with Philip about archeology and A Cast of Stones British Archeologist



Published by Digging Deeper Press, Avebury 1996 ISBN 0-9514076-4-3 £11.99

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by Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris

a Poetry Book Society Choice

cover of THE AIR MINES OF MISTILA by Philip Gross

A whirlwind collaboration with poet Sylvia Kantaris produced this haunting and surreal verse fable.

It is full of wry lights on the real world and real relationships.

With illustrations by Kim Lewis.

Published by Bloodaxe, Newcastle 1988 ISBN 1-85224-055-5 paperback £4.95

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More Backlist Titles by Philip Gross


London: Faber and Faber Ltd 1994
ISBN 0 571 17235 0 paperback

The Son of the Duke of Nowhere

Faber and Faber Ltd 1991
ISBN 0 571 16140 5 paperback £4.99

Cat's Whisker

London: Faber and Faber Ltd 1987
ISBN 0 571 14895 6 paperback £4.95

The Ice Factory

London: Faber and Faber Ltd 1984
ISBN 0 571 13217 0 paperback


Liskeard: Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets, 1983
ISBN 0 905291 46 8 paperback

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Limited Editions


with pochoir illustrations by Vance Gerry

Publication details:
Prospero Poets 1995
Limited edition of 499 copies


Poems specially written for this fine limited edition,
with wood engravings by Ros Cuthbert

Publication Details:
Yellow Fox Press 1995
ISBN 0 9524734 2 9
Limited edition of 110 copies

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Works for Radio by Philip Gross

Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards

short story. Producer: Christine Hall
broadcast on BBC Radio 4; 9 June 2005

Touching Estonia

a radio-poem/documentary. Producer: Tim Dee
broadcast on BBC Radio 3; 21 February 2002

In Deep

short story. Producer: Sara Davies
broadcast on BBC Radio 4; 19 September 2002

Enough Said

short story. Producer: Sara Davies
broadcast on BBC Radio 4; 5 June 1993

Internal Affairs

won the BBC West of England Playwriting Competition, 1986

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Works for the Stage by Philip Gross

Rising Star

Play, performed by Show of Strength, Bristol 1996

Snail Dreaming

Opera - with composer Glyn Evans and the Britten Sinfonietta (Cambridge 1997)

Dancing the Knife

Dance drama with dancer Medea Mahdavi (Bristol 2002)

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Current titles are available from any bookshop
To order copies of backlist titles, please email your requirements and we will check availability.

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