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Philip Gross, The Thirteenth Angel – review

Allowing for density of print, The Thirteenth Angel probably contains well over twice as many words as O’Brien’s Embark. 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. Looking down at a road at night the poet sees ‘the cold blush of blue / on a cheek: stranger, her mobile tingling / with presence.’ He … Continue Reading

Philip Gross, Between the Islands – review

The epigraph to Between the Islands is a quotation from Guillevic’s Carnac, ‘Nous n’avons de rivage, en vérité, / Ni toi, ni moi’: in John Montague’s translation, ‘We have no shore, really, / Neither you nor I’. This questioning of boundaries is followed by ‘Edge States’, three poems that seem to find them everywhere:

Sunlight, late
…………………..in the year, the edge
of winter. Light like stainless steel.
Just out of hearing,
…………………………..the ring
of its thin blades fencing with itself.
Light like glass
…………………….that, let fall
on water growing harder at the edge
of freezing,
……………….could break.

What makes that opening gripping … Continue Reading

Review – Philip Gross, A Bright Acoustic

Philip Gross, A Bright Acoustic, 96 pp, £9.95, Bloodaxe Books

Philip Gross is much admired for the intellectually exploratory side of his writing. Not having a philosophical or scientific mind, I have difficulty with longish works held together by ideas of an essentially abstract and cerebral kind, as is the case with the sequence “The Same River”. What I love about this poet is the way his imaginative power, skill in sensuous description and darting intelligence work in more localised and concrete contexts.

“Wren Time” shows the power with which Gross thinks in metaphors and the speed with which he moves between … Continue Reading

Review – Philip Gross, Love Songs of Carbon

You can link to my review of Love Songs of Carbon in PN Review by clicking here.

Later by Philip Gross. 64 pp. £9.95 paperback

Carrying on where Deep Field left off, Later explores thoughts and feelings springing from Gross’s nonagenarian father’s physical decline, aphasia and death. The experiences behind the poems are poignantly personal. It’s a testament to Gross’s skill and moral sensitivity that he writes about them with tenderness and deep feeling, without ever seeming to breach barriers between the public and the private or to intrude on the reader. More, even as he makes us feel the sadness of so much of what he writes about, the strongest feelings we’re left with, I think, are a heightened sense of the richness of … Continue Reading