Poetry Book Society Recommendation
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, which was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year) in 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' - Michael Symmons Roberts & Moniza Alvi, PBS Bulletin.
‘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, Lapidus Journal.
'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, Planet.
‘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.
‘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.
Philip Gross reads from The Water Table
Philip Gross reads two poems from his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection The Water Table, 'Sluice Angel' and 'Atlantis World'. This is an extract from a longer film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce of Philip Gross reading his work included in the DVD-anthology, In Person: World Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2017). He was filmed at home in Penarth, South Wales, in July 2009.
Philip Gross reads from The Wasting Game
Philip Gross reads his sequence The Wasting Game, his fatherly response to his daughter’s anorexia. Another poem from the same book, ‘Imago’, is included at the end, acting as a kind of postscript. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading his poems in July 2009 at his home in Penarth. This part of that film session is included in the DVD-anthology, In Person: World Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2017). First published in 1998, The Wasting Game is included in Philip Gross’s Changes of Address: Poems 1980-1998 (Bloodaxe Books, 2001).