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Recorded at The New School, New York City, 2014

About this poet

Rachel Eliza Griffiths was born on December 6, 1978, in Washington, D.C. She received an MA in English literature from the University of Delaware and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

She is the author of three poetry collections: Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011), which was selected for the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus American Library Association; The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011); and Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010).

Also a visual artist, Griffiths is the creator of Poets on Poetry (P.O.P), an intimate series of interviews, which gathers more than fifty contemporary poets together in conversation to discuss poetry in relation to individual human experience and culture.

Her honors include fellowships from Cave Canem, The Millay Residency, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Soul Mountain, and Vermont Studio Center.

Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New York City.


Bibliography

Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011)
The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011)
Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010)
 

26

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Your names toll in my dreams.
I pick up tinsel in the street. A nameless god
streaks my hand with blood. I look at the lighted trees
in windows & the spindles of pine tremble
in warm rooms. The flesh of home, silent.
How quiet the bells of heaven must be, cold
with stars who cannot rhyme their brilliance
to our weapons. What rouses our lives each moment?
Nothing but life dares dying. My memory, another obituary.
My memory is a cross. Face down. A whistle in high grass.
A shadow pouring down the sill of calamity.
Your names wake me in the nearly dark hour.
The candles in our windows flicker
where your faces peer in, ask us
questions light cannot answer.

 

About this poem:
"The imagery and language of the gun in the American memory must be buried. There is so much more to hold up, more to praise. This elegy is for all of us, because we all need to remember how to live in ways that reassert our humanity. This is one of the most literal poems I've ever written and it is like, as so much is in the times we live, an unanswerable flare, a cry for change."

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

 

Copyright © 2013 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 21, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 21, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths was born on December 6, 1978, in Washington, D.C. She received an MA in English literature from the University of Delaware and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

She is the author of three poetry collections: Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011), which was selected for the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus American Library Association; The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011); and Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010).

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poem
Woman, I wish I didn't know your name.  
What could you be? Silence in my house 
& the front yard where the dogwood 
wouldn't make up its mind about flowers. 
Aren't you Nature? A stem cringing, half-
shadowed beneath a torque of rain. 
I too am leaving. I too am half-spun. 
The other day near the river
I