A couple of months back I decided to explore the works of female poets, having realised that the vast majority of poets in my library are men. This led me to the works of Jane Griffiths, a poet born in 1970 and perhaps most famous for her doctorate on the Tudor poet John Skelton and Poetic Authority. I purchased her first collection, A Grip on Thin Air, and read it with great anticipation after I had browsed through the tantalising titles in the index. I realised, from the titles alone, that Jane Griffiths is the sort of poet I very much want to like and admire. After having read her first collection, however, I could not make up my mind what I thought of her poetry and I decided to dedicate two blogpost to how I read Jane Griffiths so as to elucidate the matter for myself. I have decided to make this an opus germinatum, a twin-work with a prose component and a poetic component, in the manner of Sedulius Scotus and Aldhelm of Malmesbury. This blogpost is the poetic part and it treats my reaction to A Grip on Thin Air. The poem is not exhaustive in this regard, it does not explore all the motley particulars of my reaction to this collection, but it sums up the general idea. Once I have read her second collection, Icarus on Earth, I will compose the prose part.
For Jane Griffiths
He, when thinking of her poetry, imagines fields
that playfully stretch towards the horizon,
the artificially divided landscapes
and skylines begging travellers to play catch.
He imagines the middle-worlds of airports
whose transient inhabitants are reduced
to numbers and last names, whose faces
are by the edifice made faceless, mute and blank.
He imagines the kingdoms that the airports make:
realms of their own reality whose strange laws
dictate their own geography and claim
that Schiphol is not really a part of Holland.
He imagines the armadas of aeroplanes,
quaint homeless things on whom they all depend:
the kingdoms and their rulers and their denizens
whose gyrovague existences come and go.
He imagines the sun through windows. Behind glass
the sun reflects in metals and the fleeting clouds
and sometimes, almost taunting, can be seen
singeing the horizon in its constant calm.
He imagines this and more of these conjured kingdoms
when her versed pages pass beneath his gaze,
perfunctorily and well beyond his scrutiny,
drifting but leaving imprinted memories.
- May 27 2012