Here is an exceptional pamphlet, studded with some of the very best of Steve Griffiths’ work.
Updrafts explores the richness of the poet’s life- long connection to place – and wider skies – in poems of spare but deeply felt and vivid imagery.
The landscapes of Anglesey and Shropshire feature here, but so too, do ‘three herons, slow/ and upside down over Harringay’ as the poet exercises in his flat.
These poems celebrate life, and remind us there is ‘no joy but in recognition and discovery.// No resilience/ but in the delicate’.
Steve Griffiths’ poetic voice is distinctive and engaged: this is poetry attentive to the world, its rhythms, its planetary movements, its seas and hills, its chastening weather.
There are scrupulously filtered recollections of an Anglesey childhood, moving but unsentimental, and fine observations of nature and the elements as a frame for the poet’s humane response to society and the individual’s place in it in a time of crisis.
The poems are lean but rich in imagery: metaphor, assonance, and words chosen for their onomatopoeiac effect… The poet’s appreciation of Nature is a pulse… personal and elemental are inextricably intertwined.
Steve has a fantastic and sparing but highly individual use of metaphor and of sensory experience, like lying on your back and looking up and finding an imagined world: take his murmuration of starlings that…
turn in on themselves/ in a glove/ that fills the whole/ dusk above the water,/ and out, and in again
His metaphors emerge from a wonderfully rich store of imagination and free association.’
Marilyn Miller (therapist and poetryreader)
The tone in Steve Griffiths’ Updrafts has a tendency to the lyrical.
However his powers of observation never allow that tendency to become soft-focused or sentimental.
This pamphlet is the result of Ludlow Fringe 2020’s Beautiful Earth project. Workers for the Fringe had the idea that to cheer us all up at a difficult time, Ludlow should be decked out with bunting, each pennant with an artwork or a poem celebrating the beauty of the Earth. Steve Griffiths saw this and began to collect poems from past and future books that would fit the bill: Updrafts, they aim to lift your flight, if you’re a bird or a reader – with just a few shadows. They complement his Late Love Poems, many of which are included in his latest: Weathereye: Selected Poems. Ludlow Fringe and Fair Acre Press agreed, and this pamphlet is the result.
In these times many people are struggling to make ends meet, particularly as things close down as a result of the Pandemic. We will raise money to support Ludlow Food Bank from sales of the pamphlet.
About Steve Griffiths:
Steve Griffiths was born and raised in Anglesey, spent his working life in London, and now lives in Ludlow. He published seven collections of poems between 1980 and 2016, all but the first with Seren Books and Cinnamon Press. Last year, his poetry was brought together in Weathereye: Selected Poems (2019). He has broadcast widely, and has read in several countries, including a series of seven readings in New York in 2012. He is one of the hundred twentieth-century Welsh poets writing in English featured in The Library of Wales’ Poetry 1900-2000 (2007, Parthian Books). His poems have appeared in many anthologies, most recently the NHS anthology These are the Hands. You can see filmed performances of his Late Love Poems on YouTube.
Steve was once a welfare rights worker in Islington, and later became a researcher and policymaker, writing area profiles of deprivation and health inequality across England, including Manchester, Walsall and six London boroughs. He has written four public health reports and a baseline study for reducing emergency hospital admissions. At the start of the century, he was one of the architects of a billion-pound annual investment in supported housing, much of it now taken apart. His poetry website is www.stevegriffithspoet.com
The first poem in the pamphlet:
Who brought me into the light
Those hills in their slow motion
undulation, their ripple of
shaken planes, their t’ai chi
celebratory whip of energy:
they are shaken sheets.
Who’ll hold the corners
as they meet and fold?
Not my mother who taught me
to grip on in stiff wind
so they wouldn’t tear
from my fingers and trail
in the grass.
Not my mother
who’s long gone
but who showed me
the danced pattern of meeting
and folding, those waves
of light and shadow
on land, so quick on the sea,
a lifetime where I stand.