In the course of forty years an increasingly subtle conversation has evolved between words and silence at the core of Philip Gross's poetry. This is never more so than in the poems of this edgy homage to Estonia, the country of his refugee father’s birth.
At this collection’s heart, the shapeshifting prose-poem monologues of Evi And The Devil weave a haunted landscape out of folktale, dark humour, the routine atrocities of history and a vividly present sense of place. The island of Vaikus (one of several words for silence in Estonian) is Estonia condensed, refracted in the dark waters of a bog pool. The voice that speaks with such compelling otherness is a channelling of a culture and a disposition often drowned out in successive occupations by the empires of the day, but always alive, and whispering. The resulting book is both a bold departure and a drawing together of the whole range of a writing life.
The Shores of Vaikus is Philip Gross’s 28th book of poetry, and his 13th from Bloodaxe, following The Thirteenth Angel (2022), which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
'The Thirteenth Angel, like all Philip Gross’s work, fuses the physical and the metaphysical, and lights the profoundest subject matter with shafts of playful humour. He is a poet with exceptional gifts of observation, whether it’s a panoramic view of the earth and its inhabitants or ‘the mutterings of quiet circumstance / under the threshold of attention.' – Jean Sprackland, chair of judges, T.S. Eliot Prize 2022
‘Mastery is what you would wish for in a 27th collection and it is what you find in Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize... His easy, fluent ways with form contrast with his conflicted subject matter. He has a questing eye and now, more than ever, writes to make sense of the world in its inexplicable multiplicity.’ – Kate Kellaway, The Observer (Poetry book of the month)
‘Philip Gross has long since found his groove. His 27th collection, The Thirteenth Angel, muses on shadows and light, reflections and absences…’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Daily Telegraph, reviewing the T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist
‘Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel is a book with its finger firmly on the pulse of the sounds of the contemporary world... Gross uses language which is precise and sharp one moment and then veers into a familiar colloquial style the next, which makes him intensely readable.’ – Mona Arshi, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Winter 2022
'An unashamedly conceptual and ambitious book... Gross has written a coercively memorable book about the tumults of our time that makes the art of forgetting as enticing as the art of remembering.' – Kit Fan, The Poetry Review, on The Thirteenth Angel
‘Philip Gross has been publishing poetry for more than forty years and this is an experienced collection in all senses of the word: full of literary expertise but also the pleasures and tolls of maturity…. ‘Angel’ means ‘messenger’, and this sense of poetry’s communicative power – at once modest and metaphysical – is the defining feature of this memorable, strange and often beautiful collection.’ – Victoria Moul, The Friday Poem, on The Thirteenth Angel
Philip Gross reads ‘Of Breath (Thirteen Angels’) from The Thirteenth Angel for the T.S. Eliot Prize video readings series.
Philip Gross reads ‘Moon, O’) from The Thirteenth Angel for the T.S. Eliot Prize video readings series.
Philip Gross reads ‘In the Light of the Times’ (‘Springtime in Pandemia’, 4) from The Thirteenth Angel for the T.S. Eliot Prize video readings series.
Philip Gross talks about The Thirteenth Angel for the T.S. Eliot Prize video readings series.
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