Silent in Finisterre by Jane Griffiths Summer Recommendation
PBS Summer 2017 Recommendation
The houses and landscapes of childhood exert a strong presence in Silent in Finisterre. Recalled by name, in incantation, or described in ways that recapture their irreducible reality to a child for whom they are the totality of the world, they become a kind of memory theatre: for Jane Griffiths physical things are remembered both for their own sake and to explore how they continue to shape the self.
Style impresses as much as content in her resonantly evocative poems, with sentences played against line breaks to create constant small disruptions of the expected sense, while predictable phrases and forms of words are summoned only to be rewritten. Here language is not a transparent means of conveying a message but a medium that – no less than charcoal or oil paint – materially affects what is expressed through it. Form and subject are as inextricably entwined as ‘the echo of port in the night’s starboard, / the terra firma that is silent in Finisterre’.
Jane Griffiths' Another Country: New & Selected Poems was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2008, and followed by Terrestrial Variations in 2012. Silent in Finisterre shows her extending her explorations of people and place with delight at being in the world, despite the threat of loss.
'Jane Griffiths is a poet attracted to the cross-hatchings of matter and spirit; inner and outer; air and water; foreignness and a sense of home…she has something of the Dutch still-life painter's eye: the comprehension of solid form as nothing, finally, but the effect of light. Sensuously wrought and even, at times, subtly erotic, her poems simultaneously evoke another level of pure abstraction, with words in place of coils of paint.' – Adam Thorpe, Guardian
'For Griffiths, meaning is not so much to be teased out of the universe as it is to be seen. Her underlying conviction seems to be that, if we can eliminate our own warring needs, distractions and expectations, we can read the language of the world.' – Rose Solari, Poet Lore
'A major achievement... outstanding...complex and subtle in thought, supple of tone and piercing in its observation.' - Sarah Broom, Times Literary Supplement
'The extraordinary exuberance of Jane Griffiths's poems is a product of their strange balancing between the image and the idea. The images seem to have a verbal life of their own, generated by a dominating thought that the reader is hardly aware of. But then it dawns on you, slowly but unforgettably, and you enjoy the things in the poem all the more when you see what they are for.' - Bernard O'Donoghue
Published by Bloodaxe books April 2017