Eva Griffin is a poet living in Dublin. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Gender, Sexuality & Culture in University College Dublin and is the former Visual Arts Editor for HeadStuff.org.
How do you begin a poem?
I don’t really have a set work ethic to be honest. Something will usually pop into my head that I’ll have to get down quickly, either into a notebook or my phone if I haven’t brought one with me (I made the mistake of choosing a hefty enough notebook as my go-to poem keeper). I do often think of my writing process as collage. I collect phrases and words that I read all over the place and once I’ve amassed a certain amount I’ll start seeing little links and soon I’ve started putting poems together from them. A lot of my poems consist of random lines that eventually find meaning in different combinations.
What’s your favourite poem you’ve ever encountered, and how did you encounter it?
I’m not sure I could pick a favourite. I did have a very visceral reaction to seeing Paula Meehan read ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’ at Dublin Book Festival two years ago, and I’ve gone to see her read countless times since to get that feeling again. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered someone else who reads like her; her rhythm is overwhelming. In more recent memory, my mum picked up a couple of collections at Singapore Writers Festival which was an excellent way to expand my scope of reading. Too often I’m looking to the same Irish and American poets and it’s good to get into something different. I’m pretty sure she just asked someone for a bunch of feminist writing and bought what was suggested! One of them was Is My Body A Myth by Heng Siok Tian which I’ve been going back to a lot, particularly the titular poem which is a long-form reflection on motherhood, femaleness and embodiment.
You were previously the Visual Arts Editor at Headstuff; how do you spread your time between art and poetry? Is one a more predominant focus than the other?
Well I volunteer at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios at least once a week, so that’s a pretty great way of getting my recommended dose of art in. I can’t say which takes up more of my time. I’m not actually an artist (though I do have a sketchbook full of doodles that no one should ask to see) so in that way I’m definitely spending more time on poetry. I’d say I spend an equal amount of my spare time between poetry and art events, and of course the two often overlap. Dublin is a great place for both and there’s always something on. I’ll often write while I’m invigilating in Temple Bar; aside from the amazing exhibitions it’s a great place for people-watching!
What’s your favourite piece of art you’ve encountered, and how did you encounter it?
Also another tough one! I have a print of The Sunshade by William Leech that I adore. I’m not sure when I first saw it in the National Gallery but something about it struck me instantly and I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since. I’ve also had a major Warhol obsession since I was 15 and got into David Bowie. I did a history project on him in school as an excuse to buy every book by and about him that I could find. All in the name of good grades. I think the best exhibition I went to recently was the Daphne Wright retrospective ‘Emotional Archaeology’ in the RHA. The name of the exhibition itself was enough to make me fall in love.
How does your field of study influence the way you view or create art?
Very heavily. I think I approach everything with the same eyes I put on to write an essay. My mum requesting any feminist related poetry collections for me says a lot! I think anything that keeps your mind active is essential for writing, and it can happen in surprising ways. Reading so widely, even if it’s mostly theoretical work, can lead you to a different head-space and spark up some ideas. My course has also been a great way to encounter new poets. This semester I took a module called Queer Frictions during which I was introduced to LGBTQ+ poets like Danez Smith. If you want to be amazed, watch him perform ‘Genesissy’ or read ‘Tonight, In Oakland’.
What are your thoughts on amalgamated works? Art featuring poetry, and vice versa?
I’m definitely a big fan of breaking rules when it comes to form, and I think it’s a natural connection to make especially with the popularity of both spoken word and performance art. It may not be exactly answering the question, but this brought to mind a certain book. Temple Bar Gallery run a book fair where I picked up Hidden by John Hutchinson which is a series of of paintings and vignettes that he describes as “a group exhibition or an album of songs”. I think that’s such an interesting thing, to put a book together like an exhibition. I think that must be what putting a poetry collection or anthology together is like. It really is curating, and if mixed mediums is what gets your artistic message across then go for it.
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