Poems by Philip Gross
Philip Gross was born in 1952, near the slate quarries of Delabole in Cornwall. His mother is Cornish, his father a wartime refugee from Estonia. Brought up in Plymouth, he left for Sussex University in 1970, and has lived in the South-east ever since. At Sussex, he studied English Literature and stopped writing poetry (a Coincidence?), not to return to it until 1978, shortly after the birth of his first child (another coincidence?).
Familiars is Philip Gross’s first collection. The poems within it contain a good deal of autobiography, most of it untrue. Philip Gross won the Drake 400 Poetry Competition in 1980, a Gregory Award in 1981, and 1st prize of £1,000 in the 1982 National Poetry Competition for his poem ‘The Ice Factory’, which is included in the present collection.
Abstract and intimate, circling in your void,
you closed on us. The bubble of our world
warped, quivered. You would not be denied:
a mouth-tap at the glass, a blip of fear
on a dark screen, homing. I can’t tell
who called, who answered: you or us.
Or gravity, a dumb inevitable fall,
your lit speck skating over emptiness
irrupting here, in a dazzling antiseptic cell,
with dark before and after. “It’s a girl”,
this lean survivor, streaked with blood and foam,
alive. Now we must wash you into human form,
that venerable head, veined parchment, purple-
muddied map of a fabulous country, pulsing.
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Cover illustration: Paul Klee, ‘Mystisch-Keramisch’, 1925, reproduced by kind permission of Christies.
Publication: 1983 (32 pages laminated paperback)