Dark Sky Park
By Philip Gross, Otter-Barry Books. £6.99. 9781910959886
Shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2019
Subtitled ‘Poems from the Edge of Nature’ the poetry in this collection reaches deep into the past and wide across the world, burrowing into the earth and the sea to discover those creatures less observed rather than those that have more often captured the imaginations of our ‘invasive species, Homo Sapiens’. Philip Gross keeps returning to the tardigrade, of which he tells us in one of the notes appearing throughout the book ‘There are more than 1,000 species … Sort, plump, eight-legged, they are also known as water bears or moss piglets.’ He gives this tiny creature voice ‘I was there from the off – the sound of life revving up all over.’ Other small creatures emerge, such as the worms that eat the sunken bones of whale. The first plant on dry land comes ‘shuffling out of the cool, the all-providing sea.’ Jesse Hodgson’s black and white illustrations complement the elemental voices while leaving plenty of room for the imagination to soar.