Philip Gross

Image by Stephen Morris

Philip Gross

b. 1952

The opposite of the octopus's disappearing trick: the poem creates a cloud of ink in order to appear behind it (rather to its own surprise).

Flying Down Wales

Philip Gross

Vocable (part 19)

Philip Gross

Fire Forms (part 1)

Philip Gross

The Duke of Nowhere

Philip Gross

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About Philip Gross

Philip Gross was born in Delabole, north Cornwall, as the only child of a wartime Displaced Person from Estonia and the village schoolmaster's daughter. He grew up in Plymouth, studied English at Sussex University, and began writing in the 1980s. He raised his family in Bristol, and spent many years as a freelance writer, leading workshops and visiting schools. He now lives with his wife Zélie in Penarth, South Wales, and since 2004 he has been Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales where he leads the MPhil/PhD in Writing programme, previously teaching for some years at Bath Spa University College. He also reviews and contributes articles about writing to literary magazines, academic journals, conferences and books.

Gross is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, as well as radio short stories, including the radio poem/documentary Touching Estonia in 2002, plays, and fiction for young adults. His earlier poetry books, up to 1998's The Wasting Game, a troubling and deeply moving account of a teenage girl's anorexia (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize), are collected in Changes of Address (Bloodaxe, 2001), after which he has published five books with Bloodaxe: Mappa Mundi (2003), The Egg of Zero (2006), The Water Table (winner of the 2009 TS Eliot Prize), Deep Field (2011) and Later (2013).

He has also published ten novels for young people, most recently The Lastling and The Storm Garden. His children's poetry includes The AllNite Café which won the Signal Award, and Off Road To Everywhere, winner of the CLPE poetry award 2011. I Spy Pinhole Eye, a collaboration with photographer Simon Denison, was the English-language winner of Wales Book Of The Year 2010. Gross's poetry for children is available to listen to as a separate entry on the Poetry Archive's website. He is a Quaker, and has said that questions based in that experience underlie much of what he writes.

In this selection of recordings made for the Poetry Archive, Gross's primary subject emerges as the role language plays in the exchanges between the self and the world - from the understated music of 'Severn Song', describing a mercurial landscape where 'two things can be true', to the words withheld, constrained, lost or relinquished that can mask or disclose private suffering in 'Fire Forms' and 'Vocable' - we are powerfully reminded of the variety of ways in which speech and writing can articulate, disguise and elevate a range of human situations, through 'slight modulations of the bare vowels of animal need.'

This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 29 January 2013 at Attic Attack, Bristol and was produced by Richard Carrington.


Phlip Gross's favourite poetry sayings:

The lies of the poets are lies in the service of truth. – John of Salisbury, d. 1180

Interviews and other readings

Philip Gross Interview

Philip Gross answers questions about his inspiration and process for...

Additional material and useful links

Christmas poem by Philip Gross

Philip Gross reads his Christmas poem on YouTube.

Two poems from Deep Field

Philip Gross reads two poems from Deep Field, his latest collection, of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, on youtube.

Selected bibliography

Later, Bloodaxe, 2013


Deep Field, Bloodaxe, 2011


The Water Table, Bloodaxe, 2009


The Egg of Zero, Bloodaxe, 2006


Changes of Address: Poems 1980–1998, Bloodaxe,...



1981 Eric Gregory Award

1982 National Poetry Competition

2009 TS Eliot Prize

2010 Wales Book of the Year

Books by Philip Gross