Philip Gross; reviews & interviews for The Thirteenth Angel

Philip Gross; reviews & interviews for The Thirteenth Angel


‘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 TS Eliot prize.’ – Kate Kellaway, The Observer (Poetry book of the month)


Philip Gross's 27th book of poetry The Thirteenth Angel, was published by Bloodaxe Books in November 2022.  It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Winter 2022 and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2022.   He is a previous winner of this award, having won the T S Eliot Prize 2009 for his collection The Water Table

'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

An in-depth interview with Philip Gross was featured on the T S Eliot Prize website ahead of the prize being announced on 16 January 2023.  Read here.

'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



Wales Arts Review, Philip Gross: The Artist Q&A, online 27 July 2023

An interview with Philip Gross has gone online in Wales Arts Review. He was speaking about his background, his creative process, and the joys of collaborating with other artists.

‘In the latest of a new series of Q&As with some of Wales’s leading artists, musicians, performers, and writers, award-winning poet Philip Gross discusses the influence of origins and the “essential nutrient” of collaboration.’



The North, Issue 69 (also posted online on Edmund Prestwich’s blog of 19 November 2023)

Reviewer Edmund Prestwich has posted his excellent review of Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel on his blog.  This was first published in the Autumn issue of The North as a joint review together with books by Sean O’Brien and Selima Hill, and was reproduced on Edmund’s blog with permission from the Poetry Business.

'Its fertility in ideas, images and perceptions is almost breath-taking. So is the vivid precision of its language of physical description. The world it presents is above all crowded with movement.  This is a part of the experience of modern life that Gross captures brilliantly. Glittering details seem to leap off every page ... The Thirteenth Angel offers an almost continuous exultation in the sheer plenitude of life and a rejoicing in opulent language.' – Edmund Prestwich, The North

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New Welsh Review, online 2 August 2023

Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel was well reviewed in detail in New Welsh Review in summer 2023. 

The Thirteenth Angel is Philip Gross’ twenty-seventh collection and it’s a masterly addition to an already impressive corpus of work. A Poetry Book Society Recommendation, it was also shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize (which Gross won in 2009 with The Water Table) and it continues Gross’ metaphysical investigation of the relationship of the self to the wider world.’ – Vicky MacKenzie, New Welsh Review

Available to read online for free.


Review 31, online 6 June 2023

The Thirteenth Angel was very well reviewed in depth in the online literary review Review 31 on 6 June 2023.

‘A preoccupation with matter attends Philip Gross’ new book of poetry, The Thirteenth Angel ... The Thirteenth Angel moves out of the shadows of his previous books, by placing matter — its presence and absence, and the interplay — as part of larger questions of embodiment, attention and breath. Gross however creates new poetic worlds by allowing digital spheres inside us, as part of a fresh reckoning of human and machine, in bits and bytes of digital pulse.’ — Amlanjyoti Goswami, Review 31

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The High Window, online 23 March 2023

An excellent review of The Thirteenth Angel was featured online in The High Window on 23 March 2023. Read in full here.

The Thirteenth Angel, his 27th book of poetry, is [a] refreshingly outward-looking collection, comprising a series of long, descriptive/contemplative pieces interleaved with shorter poems. Reading the whole book is a deeply absorbing, enlightening and thought-provoking experience. I greatly enjoyed Gross’s constantly inventive ways with form and language… truly magnificent…’ – Jill Sharp, The High Window

The Friday Poem, online 13 January 2023

An in-depth review of Philip Gross’s T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel went online at The Friday Poem on 13 January ahead of the announcement of the award on 16 January.  Victoria Moul considered this 27th book of poetry in the context of Philip Gross’s work as a whole.

‘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

Read this wonderful review in full here:

An interview with Philip Gross went online on The Friday Poem on 24 February 2023.  He was in conversation with editor Hilary Menos about writing poetry about his family in The Wasting Game and Deep Field, the importance of self-knowledge, and what makes a ‘good’ poem.

Philip Gross’s The Wasting Game, about his daughter’s struggle with anorexia, was his first book published by Bloodaxe. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award and is now included in his 2001 retrospective Changes of Address. His 2011 collection Deep Field, about his father, was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Poetry Award in 2012.

Read the interview here:


London Grip, online 10 February 2023

A very warm review of Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel went online in London Grip on 10 February.

The Thirteenth Angel is haunted by mortality, by the mess the world is in, but also by all the ways the beauty of the world slips through the mesh of experience, flickers on our sense and lives in our memories. It is a profound meditation on existence, to be relished and read again and again.’ - Colin Pink, London Grip

Read in full on London Grip here.

Sheenagh Pugh reviewed The Thirteenth Angel on her Live Journal blog of 1 February 2022.  Read in full here.

'Gross’s observation, and his ability to encapsulate it in often unexpected language and imagery, are as sharp as ever...This is a very cerebral, thoughtful collection, though not without moments of humour.' - Sheenagh Pugh, Live Journal


‘Gross presents us hurtling forwards, across the circuit board of the modern city, but making the same old mistakes. What we need is perspective, an opportunity to gain some objectivity, and The Thirteenth Angel offers us this divine intervention [of angels] and the opportunity to step outside of ourselves and to view the world from a fresh angle.' - John Field, T S Eliot Prize reviewer

The full review can be seen on the T S Eliot Prize website here.

The  T S Eliot Prize newsletter devoted to Philip Gross, including videos, reviews and Readers' Notes, can be seen here.


The Thirteenth Angel was reviewed online in DURA on 18 December 2022 as part of a set of reviews of collections shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2022.

‘The final poem, the titular ‘Thirteen Angels’ completes Gross’s message. Each Angel is a thing, an experience of reality that one may come across – breath, mistake, music, emptiness… The angels are the lines by which we can truly experience the natural world, beyond the urban trappings of modern life… ‘And the thirteenth angel is the world itself.’’ – James McLeish, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts)

Read in full online here.



The Verb TS Eliot Prize, BBC Radio 3, Friday 20 January 2023, 10pm

Extracts from The T S Eliot Prize Readings, held at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 15 January, were featured on a special edition of The Verb on 20 January, reintroduced by Ian McMillan, who was also host at the London readings.  Philip Gross read his poems ‘A Near Distance’ followed by ‘A Glassy Thing,’ from the final sequence ‘Thirteen Angels’.  

‘Philip Gross has been writing poems for many years, and with each new collection he seems even more technically assured, even more in control of his work, even more confident to let the work speak for itself.  The Thirteenth Angel takes in that strange time of the pandemic, as well as looking back beyond it to a kind of poetic middle distance that seems as present as, well, the present.’ – Ian McMillan, introducing Philip Gross’s reading on The Verb TS Eliot Prize

‘On The Verb this week join Ian McMillan for a celebration of remarkable poets and poetry as he presents readings from all the collections shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the T.S. Eliot Foundation for the best collection of the year and the winner receives £25,000. Anthony Joseph was declared this year's winner by the judges for his 'luminous' collection Sonnets for Albert.  Alongside readings from the poets themselves, Ian reflects how their work reverberates with the here and now, refreshing the language and giving us maps and signposts for these turbulent times.’

Ian McMillan introduces Philip Gross at 5:52. Listen via BBC Sounds here.


A video of the T S Eliot Prize Readings can be seen on YouTube here. Ian McMillan introduces Philip Gross at 59:20.

All ten poets shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2022 read at this event at London's Royal Festival Hall hosted by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan. Philip Gross read poems from his shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel.



Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 3 January 2023, 7.15pm

A recording of Philip Gross reading his poem ‘Moon, O’ from this T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel was played at the end of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on 3 January, introduced by presenter Samira Ahmed.

Samira introduces Philip Gross’s poem at 39:15.  Listen here.



The Observer, Poetry book of the month, Sunday 20 November 2022

An excellent in-depth review of Philip Gross’s T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel ran in The Observer of 20 November as Kate Kellaway’s poetry book of the month. Her review was accompanied by the poem ‘Psalm: You’ from the collection.  

‘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 TS 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)

Kate Kellaway’s review can be read online via The Guardian's website here.


Poetry Society Young Critic Aliyah Begum reviews Philip Gross's 'unexpectedly hopeful' T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel. A thought-provoking, perceptive and very engaging review of Philip Gross's 27th book of poetry.

'What I love about this collection is the language, particularly the motif of glass. There's lots of mirrors, windows, screens, shards of glass - all things that relate to connection and how we view the world.  If you were to run your fingers along the words of this collection, it would feel like a broken phone screen in that it's fractured and disjointed, but still whole and smooth and part of a bigger thing'. - Aliyah Begum, Poetry Society Young Critic, on The Thirteenth Angel

Aliyah took part in the Young Critics Scheme, a joint project from the T. S. Eliot Prize and The Poetry Society. Ten 18-25 year olds were asked to review the collections on this year’s T. S. Eliot Prize shortlist, following a series of online workshops.



Buzz Magazine, January 2023 issue, online 30 January 2023

An excellent review of The Thirteenth Angel features in the January 2023 issue of the South Wales magazine Buzz.  Read in full on the Buzz website here.

‘The poetry in The Thirteenth Angel… is beautiful, breathtakingly brilliant, visionary, and profound
… Anyone with any pretension to being a poet should definitely read this one: inspiring stuff for any reader, poet or poetry-lover alike.’ – Mab Jones, Buzz Magazine


‘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

‘Gross is a consummate master of figures of speech, many of them satisfyingly original ... It has been a privilege and a pleasure to read and review a collection which emphasises the achievements of Philip Gross, one of our major contemporary poets, and easy to see why it is a PBS Recommendation, and was shortlisted for the 2022 T. S. Eliot Prize.’ – Philip Dunkerley, Orbis, on The Thirteenth Angel



The Simple Things, Pause poem feature, March 2023

‘Transient’ from The Thirteenth Angel is featured as a full page in the March 2023 issue of The Simple Things magazine.

‘This quietly powerful poem is full of wild spring weather and sharp winds, as it tracks the ragged migration of the overwintering redwings… honing in on a lone bird, separated from the large, loose flock.’ – The Simple Things, on ‘Transient’ from The Thirteenth Angel

The Yorkshire Times, Poem of the Week, online 23 February 2023

‘The Displaced Persons Camp’ from Philip Gross’s 2001 retrospective Changes of Address was featured by Steve Whitaker as his Poem of the Week in the online regional newspaper The Yorkshire Times on 23 February 2023. The poem was also credited to Neil Astley’s Staying Human anthology.  The poem was accompanied by Steve Whitaker’s commentary.

‘Philip Gross’ desperately moving poem has never been more relevant.’ – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times

Read the feature here.




Tuesday 22 November 2022, 7pm GMT, joint Bloodaxe launch

Philip Gross launched The Thirteenth Angel with a joint live-streamed reading and discussion event on 22 November 2022 hosted by Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. They were in conversation with Slovenian poet Aleš Šteger, whose UK retrospective Burning Tongues: New & Selected Poems (translated by Brian Henry) was also published by Bloodaxe in November.

This event is now available on YouTube (just click play on the video below).



Philip Gross recorded four videos for the T S Eliot Prize in which he speaks about his work and reads poems from his shortlisted collection.  All four of his videos are on the T S Eliot Prize YouTube channel here.


Philip reads 'Of Breath (Thirteen Angels)' from The Thirteenth Angel.


Philip Gross talks about his work and his shortlisted collection The Thirteenth Angel.

[21 November 2022]

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