The Thirteenth Angel, by Philip Gross

Author: Philip Gross. Review by Jonathan Wooding.

'Silence that is our whole habitation, here-ness, how this water-planet thinks and breathes and speaks.'

Philip Gross is not a Quaker mystic, if that’s what you’re thinking when you see the word ‘angel’ in the title of his latest book of poems. He’s not a Quaker ranter, either, I might say – not angry and satirical, which he could have been, what with all the wretched illiberalism and political scamming we’ve seen over the last few years. No. He is, rather, a poet of what we might call ‘unluck’ and hazard (not superstition – I don’t think that’s what the number thirteen means here). So, a poet of the satisfyingly bleak (to speak oxymoronically); a poet who abides in what one of Iris Murdoch’s characters refers to as ‘charmless holiness’ (another oxymoron there).

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