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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 four poetry collections: Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015); 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

Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015)
Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011)
The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011)
Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010)
 

Aubade to Langston

When the light wakes & finds again
the music of brooms in Mexico,
when daylight pulls our hands from grief,
& hearts cleaned raw with sawdust
& saltwater flood their dazzling vessels,
when the catfish in the river
raise their eyelids towards your face,
when sweetgrass bends in waves
across battlefields where sweat
& sugar marry, when we hear our people
wearing tongues fine with plain
greeting: How You Doing, Good Morning
when I pour coffee & remember
my mother's love of buttered grits,
when the trains far away in memory
begin to turn their engines toward
a deep past of knowing,
when all I want to do is burn
my masks, when I see a woman
walking down the street holding her mind
like a leather belt, when I pluck a blues note
for my lazy shadow & cast its soul from my page,
when I see God's eyes looking up at black folks
flying between moonlight & museum,
when I see a good-looking people
who are my truest poetry,
when I pick up this pencil like a flute
& blow myself away from my death,
I listen to you again beneath the mercy
of a blue morning's grammar.

Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Originally published in the Southern Humanities Review, Vol. 49.3. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Originally published in the Southern Humanities Review, Vol. 49.3. Used with permission of the author.

Rachel Eliza Griffits

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.

by this poet

poem
26

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

2
poem

I remember the boys & their open hands. High fives

of farewell. I remember that the birches waved too,

the white jagged limbs turning away from incessant wildfires.

 

The future

poem

I wish I were like Johnny Cash
& thought my heart was mine.

I’ve worn a black suit
my entire life. It suits the war
my eyes ignite.

My sins sit on my lap,
bald, blind, desperate
for the mercy of lost roads,
glottal white lines.

Only smoke will take me
far to