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 Zelie 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 eighteen 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 (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize), are collected in Changes of Address (Bloodaxe, 2001). Since then Bloodaxe have published Mappa Mundi (2003), The Egg of Zero (2006), The Water Table (winner of the 2009 TS Eliot Prize), Deep Field (2011), Later (2013) and Love Songs of Carbon (2015), while the poetry/art collaborations I Spy Pinhole Eye, The Abstract Garden and A Fold in the River have appeared from Cinnamon, Old Stile Press and Seren, respectively.

He has also published ten novels for young people, most recently The Lastling and The Storm Garden. His children’s poetry includes The AllNite Cafe 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.’

Phlip Gross’s favourite poetry sayings:

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

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

Poems by Philip Gross

Fire Forms (part 1) - Philip Gross
Severn Song - Philip Gross
Vocable (part 19) - Philip Gross
Flying Down Wales - Philip Gross
The Duke of Nowhere - Philip Gross
Philip Gross in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.

Books by Philip Gross



Eric Gregory Award

Prize website

National Poetry Competition

Prize website

Signal Award for The All-Nite Cafe

Prize website

T.S. Eliot Prize

Prize website

Wales Book of the Year for 'I Spy Pinhole'

Prize website

Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award for 'Off Road to Everywhere'

Prize website

Featured in the Archive