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poet ● novelist ● arts collaborator ● teacher


A Part of the Main in Oxford, Sat. 12th October

A Part of the Main will be one in a series of thought-provoking poetry events in the resonant space of Oxford Quaker Meeting House.

Free admission with a fundraising collection + refreshments @ 6.30 for 7pm till 9pm, on Saturday 12th October.

Other events in the series include Jenny Lewis, Gilgamesh Retold on 5th October, Fiona Sampson on 16th November and Lucy Newlyn on November 23rd.

Tardigrades on the Moon

Look! The tiny creatures who are the real heroes of my Dark Sky Park are in the news, starring in their own real-life disaster movie...


Giant Steps… 50 poets on the moon landing and beyond 

Giant Steps: 50 poets reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and beyond (Recent Work Press, Canberra, 2019) – a richly thoughtful anthology that goes beyond the historic occasion to explore our relationships with Space.

And a couple of poems, recorded as my way of being at the launch event in Canberra, are here:

Voices of the Earth – making poetry and art at Woodbrooke

2nd - 6th September 2019

Last chance to book this year for this creative exploration of our relationships with the world we inhabit. The course uses the rich resources of the Woodbrooke Quaker study centre in Birmingham, with art room and extensive gardens.  We'll work with poetry and a range of media and art forms, individually and collaboratively, to recharge our ways of seeing.

Tutors: Philip Gross is a Quaker, poet, prose writer, and until recently, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. Zélie Gross is a Quaker writer and editor, with a background in making and teaching of visual arts. She brings skills in exploratory group work in her teaching.

1046 Bristol Road. Birmingham
 B29 6LJ

+44 (0)121 472 5171

A Part of the Main – first London reading

Quaker Centre Bookshop,  173-177 Euston Road   London  NW1 2BJ

Fri, 21 June 2019      18:30     and livestreamed on the Quaker Centre Facebook page.

Philip Gross and Lesley Saunders read from their collaborative book A Part of the Main, the outcome of what began as an email conversation between them during the political upheavals of 2016-17, and developed into an improvised poetry sequence that moves, in swerves and echoes, beyond the immediate occasion into themes of migration, exile, loss of love or home or language, even life itself.


Lines on the Wall… in Manchester

Lines on the Wall – poetry and performance at Friends’ Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester. Thursday 4th July           ... the walls that divide us, and the walls that we want to remember. Philip GrossTania Hershman and several Open Mic readers shared poems on the theme of walls, division, or borders, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. The wall that still stands on the Bootle Street side of Friends’ Meeting House is where peaceful pro-democracy protesters were wounded and killed.

HeadRead festival in Estonia

Jason Goodwin, festival organiser, writes: "The Tallinn HeadRead literary festival, like Tallinn itself, is small but perfectly formed. Run by Estonian writers, publishers and translators, the festival is a feast, a conversation and a joy..."

Philip Gross appeared in three events:
Spores and Sparks, with Doris Kareva - Tuesday, 21 May at 17:00, Estonian National Library, Tallinn - followed by discussion with other British writers, Jason Goodwin, Michel Faber, Louisa Young, Nikky Smedley

Solo reading - Saturday, 25 May, at Cafe Ait, Vene 14, Tallinn

Poetry Mass, with Kalju Kruusa, Berit Kaschan, Adam Cullen, Kai Aareleid, Rein Veidemann, Veronika Kivisilla and Maarja-Liis Mölder. Music: Katariin Raska - Sunday, 26 May, in Niguliste church/museum 

Between The Islands – coming early next year




Dark Sky Park – shortlisted for the CLiPPA award

Dark Sky Park: Poems from the Edge of Nature was on the shortlist for the prestigious CLiPPA award for children’s poetry. Go to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education's POETRYLINE for videos of poems by all five shortlisted poets - Kwame Alexander, Stephen Camden, Eloise Greenfield, Rachel Rooney and myself.

Congratulations to Stephen Camden, announced as winner of CLiPPA 2019 at a ceremony at the National Theatre in Wednesday 3rd July, in front of 900 children from across the UK who took part in the CLiPPA shadowing scheme in their schools in the run up to the award.

Each book was represented by a performance from one of the schools, as well as the writer in person or (in the case of the US poets) on video. My poem Aleppo Cat was performed – no, better than that, embodied – by Imogen and Poppy from Whitehill Junior School, Hitchin, who really got inside the words and became them. What more could any poet ask? My thanks to them, and all the staff and classmates who supported them.


A Part of the Main – Philip Gross and Lesley Saunders – poetry to give perspective in troublesome times

Poetry responding to a crisis…

..... ‘The events of recent months have left me stunned, shocked and bewildered; underneath the rage and disappointment I think I’m heartbroken. I feel the need to remake, reconceive, re-vision, the idea of who ‘we’ are.’ (Lesley to Philip, 2016)
..... ‘I’ve watched my friends, and myself, going through all the classic stages of mourning – anger, denial, bargaining, depression, relative acceptance – in overlapping waves... My instinct is for a conversation where the utterances are quick and open-ended, with quiet spaces for reflection in between. Nothing must aim to be the final word.’ (Philip to Lesley, 2016)

This was during the political upheavals of 2016–17 – with the referendum, the migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the polarisation of discussion all around the world. From that exchange of emails grew a conversation in poems, vivid, exploratory verses shuttled back and forth over three or four months. Trusting to the improvisatory flow, the sequence moves in swerves and echoes, far beyond the immediate occasion into themes of migration, exile, loss of love or home or language. In a time of soundbites and binary rhetoric, it gives the pressing questions about individual and national identity more breathing-space, more heart- and head-room. In the words of reviewers, ‘this poetic voyage feels irresistible, urgent and unrelenting in the best sense’ ... 'resolutely alive with flint-sparking metaphor... a clarion voice in a din of obfuscation'.

A Part of the Main  is now available, a truly beautiful thing, published by Mulfran Press. It comes with a handsome and thoughtful design by Valerie Coffin Price, whose own work explores all kinds of connection between people, landscape and ideas. For more details, or to request a review copy, contact Leona Medlin of Mulfran Press

Philip and Lesley's performances bring out the dialogue of many voices in the poems, and open out into discussions at the end. So far, they have take in to venues from Cardiff to Aldeburgh, via London, Oxford and Kent. For interviews and possible events, contact:
Lesley Saunders and/or Philip Gross