Philip Gross is a poet whose collection The water table won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009, I spy pinhole eye Wales Book of The Year 2010, and Off road to everywhere the CLPE Award for Children’s Poetry 2011. Deep Field (2011) deals with voice and language, seen through his father’s aphasia—an exploration of the limits of the self continued in a new collection, Later (2013). He has also published ten novels for young people, collaborated with artists, musicians and dancers, and since 2004 has been Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Wales, where he leads the MPhil/PhD in Writing programme.

Voices in the Forest

Three ways of conceiving of a work in progress with selected pieces from Evi and the devil

This hybrid piece presents a substantial piece of unpublished work in progress, a representative selection from a prose poetry sequence with the working title Evi and the devil. Set on the offshore islands of Estonia and written in the persona of a poet silent since the last days of the Soviet regime, this evolved out of and may in its turn evoke a new prose narrative. Exploring ways to account for its origins and so elucidate the creative quandary it presents to its author in its unfinished state, a three-part introduction sets the extracts against three kinds of discourse—a storytelling approach (with implications for creative writing pedagogy, in particular the ‘critical reflection’), a historical contextualisation against a set of British poetry collections speaking in the voices of invented writers in a Cold War setting, and a discussion of the lyric and narrative modes in the creation and evolution of this piece.