NEW: A brand new collection of poems for children and adults alike, with one foot in real science, one in wild imagination – my words doing a dance with Jesse Hodgson's deft and vivid illustrations
- published by Otter-Barry Books, 2018: https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/dark-sky-park
And here's Jill Bennett's wholehearted adventurous plunge into all its heights and depths https://redreadinghub.blog/2018/09/28/dark-sky-park/
... and Alison Kelly's generous thoughtful review from the Schoolzone section of readingzone.com: https://readingzone.com/index.php?zone=sz&page=book&isbn=9781910959886&utm_source=phplist11&utm_medium=email&utm_content=HTML&utm_campaign=Free+review+copies%2C+author+Q%26A%27s+and+Latest+Reviews
... and Kate Wakeling, in the Winter 2018 issue of Carousel. "The poems in this dazzling new collection from Philip Gross are rare, distinct and mesmerising as the the creatures and landscapes he explores here. By turns witty and elegiac, his poems gaze in fierce wonder at the worlds of snow leopards, tardigrades and glacial worms, while also starkly challenging humankind’s cruelty and greed. … This is an imaginative, urgent and beautifully crafted collection."
A 'weekend of calm alertness and serious creative play' at Ty Newydd Writing Centre, North Wales, 13 - 15 July (tutors / Lynne Rees & Philip Gross) is already a good memory, with not just haiku but all kinds of testing of the edges of that form, with expansions and contractions, haibun prose, several lovely fluid rengas and a challenge to offend against as many of the conventions as we dared...
Tŷ Newydd is located in the village of Llanystumdwy, between the towns of Cricieth and Pwllheli on the southern coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. Reflective moment caught by Lynne Rees, of part of the group just where the river Dwyfor meets the sea:
the width of the world
is measured by the oystercatchers’ wheep
its centre, always
shifting, by the plop of sea trout
coming up for flies
Image in ink by Rose Gamsa (2018)
Words by Philip Gross (2018)
Sometimes I can't tell if your poems are a joke or if they're serious. My Mum says they must be one thing or the other. Which are they meant to be?
Ah, there are different ways of being funny. I hope some of these poems make you smile... and at the same time make you think. Some of the jokes are about the most serious things, like whether human beings are going to learn to take care of the earth before it's too late. I don't like the kind of a joke that says "Just kidding, there's nothing to think about here" — or the kind that's laughing at somebody or some thing. I like the kind of humour that surprises us and helps us look at things in a new way.
One of my teachers tells me poetry has got to rhyme. Another one tells me nobody writes rhyming poetry these day? What should I do?
There are some great modern poets who always rhyme, and some who never do. What they all do is listen to the sound their words make, and try to make the sound fit what they are writing about. When you are writing poems, try them out by reading them out loud. See where they want to race along, and where they want to pause — where they want to make a sound like singing (they'll probably rhyme) and where they want to sound like talking (they'll probably not).
Have you seen all these creatures in your poems, or are you just making it up?
I'm not a deep sea diver, so I haven't seen the ones that live at the bottom of the ocean. I've talked to scientists from the museum who have. And most of us these days have seen some brilliant wildlife documentaries on the TV. There are some very ordinary things, too, in the poems — like the tiny flower called Ivy-Leafed Toadflax. I bet you've seen that on a pavement or a wall, but you might not have known that's what it was. And OK, I've made up a few things, in the poems that play an imagination game. I've always told the readers when I've done that, though.
There are more than a thousand different species of tardigrades, a group of tiny creatures that has been on earth for at least 500 million years. Short, plump and eight-legged, they grow to half a millimetre long. They have been found in most environments on earth, and can survive most conditions (including the vacuum and radiation of deep space) by drying themselves out to a tiny capsule. They are also known as water bears or moss piglets.
(For more about tardigrades, look in the Dark Sky Park Zone. They are the real heroes of that book.)