The medieval Mappa Mundi showed the real world hedged about with wonders. Philip Gross's poems in Mappa Mundi are as vividly observed and sometimes fabulous as the traveller's tales of antiquity.
Like those creatures in the margins of old maps they are hybrids of real longings, truth and lies. Each is a journey, open-ended and surprising, giving glimpses of the Middle East, the Pacific North-West, or a Europe of lost spas. There is an encounter with Edward Lear in a Balkan republic of Coromandel, there is snow in the outback, plus some impossible countries that you somehow recognise.
These poems explore the spaces that can open between buildings in a city street, in the shifting lights of love and ageing, or in the gaps between words. Heady and sobering, unsettling, celebratory, they come home with findings from the real world of the senses, heart and mind.
Philip Gross won the T.S. Eliot Prize for his 2009 collection The Water Table.
"A book of great clarity and concentration, continually themed but always lively and alert in its use of language. Gross takes us from Great Flood to subtly invoked concerns for our watery planet; this is a mature and determined book, dream-like in places, but dealing ultimately with real questions of human existence."
Simon Armitage, T.S. Eliot Prize judges' comment.
"Great poetry is like walking on water. In this paradoxical, humane collection, Philip Gross achieves that miracle."
Polly Clark, The Guardian
"Philip Gross knows how to make silence and suggestion resonateÖ he touches an alien, intractable dimensionÖ Gross's poems are about lost bearings and blurred frontiers."
Terry Eagleton, Independent on Sunday
"Haunting, vividly imagined poems, whose fierce intelligence is gentled by the sonorous grace of the languageÖ A considerable poetic talent offers us an elegant and subtle re-evaluation of the modern world."
Sarah Crown, The Guardian
"Some of the poems are marvellous, not because they are brave about their subject, not even because of the technique on display, but because they are electrifyingly well observed and beautifully written."
David Morley, Poetry Review
"This marvellous collectionÖ The poems are destabilising but revelatory visions of the worldÖ The tensions between his close attention to qualities and the wit and bravura with which he interprets them is held by the scope of his linguistic resources and techniqueÖ I repeat: buy and view the world anew! ñ astonished!"
Judy Gahagan, Ambit