News from Steve Griffiths
Great review of Weathereye: Selected Poems by Jon Gower in Nation.Cymru
Weathereye is the harvest of 40 years of poetry from Steve Griffiths.
While the poems range freely from bullfighting to ancient burial chambers, from nuclear warheads to geological events there is one place, one theme, that recurs more than any other.
It’s the poet’s home town of Amlwch, on the north western rim of Anglesey, … recast as a place entirely unlike any other place on earth. It is now called Al-Chwm, a place where time isn’t linear, its currency is uncertainty and the locals wear mirrors on their clothes in a ‘town that strains on the leash/that slips out of my hand.’
It’s a place where one alternative history maintains it once expanded to the size of Siberia, or where a person is rewarded for something by being left alone. It’s a very odd, mutable mirage of a town, built on the shifting sands of the poet’s imagination. There are lines in one of the poems that may help explain the wondrous, mythical recasting of Amlwch as Al-Chwm:
A man carries the place he comes from
on his back as he unravels
it is transformed with every step as he is.
The Arabic sounding name is echoed in the fact that the al-Hambra palace has been magically transported, in one verse, from southern Spain and rebuilt on the site of an old chemical works on a coastal promontory, and furthermore by a discovery made through DNA that connects its denizens with a ‘small Saharan people.’ Uncertainty reigns here, in a town which is ‘up for some kind of prize but the judges get lost’ and the unemployed get taken by lorry to work short shifts in the Elysian fields.
The Al-Chwm poems are both playful, accessible and profound: think Jorge Luis Borges, the blind, visionary Argentine poet meets one of the Liverpool Beat Poets.
Robert Minhinnick (is) the dedicatee of a lovely lyric meditation on the geology of Shropshire called ‘The Shelveian Event.’
But Griffiths is his own man, a ranging intelligence and an exquisite chronicler of later-life love and its complications and rewards. The poems chosen from his volume ‘Late Love Poems’ are worth the price of admission all by themselves, tender, telling and true as they are. …. this fine selection ….has given this reader at least a dozen poems he will return to again and again, certain in the knowledge that they will continue to reap rewards.