Spotlight: Eva Griffin

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Losing Dogs & Author Bio

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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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.

Hiram Larew

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The Power of Poetry

Poetry doesn’t vote.  It can’t rule.  It sits on no juries.  It signs nothing into law.  It runs no companies or houses of worship.  And, it never ever wins an Academy award.  On all of these fronts that matter, poetry is powerless.  And for that very reason, of course, it is incredibly powerful.

Poetry is our trees, our anger, your life, my death.  It’s the birds that stitch air.  It’s the soul of night, the feast of day, and that ever present caution that’s careless.  Poetry doesn’t decide.  It doesn’t provide.  If it answers at all, it does so with questions.  And, to be honest, poetry doesn’t care; it cares as deeply as wells do, yes, but it never brings you water.  It wants nothing from you except wanting – this is probably its most gifting power.

And it soars, when allowed to, over just about anything else we can imagine.  It’s not the clouds themselves so much, but our need for them.   Said all at once, poetry is powerful for what it cannot be, and for the dreams it wants.

If you should ever encounter a poem that makes you jump, ask yourself why.  Most likely, the answer – if there is one – will be from so far-fully inside you that ancestors will wink.

Finally, poetry is really nowhere and so it’s just about everywhere around us.  It lives in the corner of your eye.  It rents most all of your willingness from you.  It aches with whatever is gone.  And, it cheers – even raves – for what may never be.  Thank goodness – and badness – for poetry, and for our never being completely sure how powerfully potent it really is.

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Biography

Larew’s poems have appeared most recently in Honest Ulsterman, Amsterdam Quarterly, vox poetica, Every Day Poems, The Seminary Ridge Review, Shot Glass, Forth Magazine and Viator.  He lives in Maryland, USA. His Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/hiramlarewpoet/

Carmina Masoliver

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Looking At The Same Thing

Singing on the back of your motorbike

through mountains, my favourite memories

 

surprise me. The return of love, like it never left,

you holding me in each and every bed,

 

except the ones without air-con to cool us,

where we laid like starfish, salty skin

 

and the heat is never something you can picture,

but this winter, I think back to summer shorts,

 

only wearing sleeves to show respect,

the land abundant with temples,

 

rice fields, motorbikes, smells

distinct to every country.

 

We were tested with con-men, swaying boats,

sea urchins, our own minds. Somehow

 

we coped, we survived and now we are back,

wanting to keep these memories alive. And sometimes

 

it’s the snapshots of everyday, changing landscapes,

we walked through side-by-side, for the most part.

 

Rolling shrimp in rice-paper with satay dripping off,

the sweetest popcorn at the cinema.

 

At other times, it was like we were dropped

into a postcard, and I question reality

 

when I think of the blue of that water,

the kindness of strangers, the feeling

 

of swallowing beer in a hammock,

of tasting the food from the side of the road.

 

We are back now, but let’s never stop

climbing mountains, taking in views,

 

plunging into unknown water.

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Biography

Carmina Masoliver is a poet and teacher from London, England. She is founder of She Grrrowls feminist arts night, and is a regular contributor to The Norwich Radical. Her work has been published in various magazines and anthologies, such as Popshot, and her chapbook was published by Nasty Little Press in 2014. She has featured at events including Bang Said the Gun, Latitude, Lovebox, Bestival and Goldsmith University’s The Place for Poetry. She has facilitated workshops independently, as well as whilst shadowing Ross Sutherland, Niall O’Sullivan, and Michael Rosen. She currently lives and works in Córdoba, Spain.

www.carminamasoliver.com

www.shegrrrowls.tumblr.com

@CarminaPoetry

@shegrrrowls


 

Margarita Serafimova

Five Unnamed Poems

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I was going up and down the garden,

between glimpses of flowers and my thoughts of you.

You were giving me death, the times were giving me light.

I was making circles as an earth.

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Spring came,

but you did not come to your senses.

The bloom left you behind.

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I knew now where this love was going –

it was re-entering the cells of my eyes,

it was permeating my irises, infiltrating their lights and colours.

It was washing their clearness and depths in tears,

and they were glistening, ready for the sight of

the air, mighty with empty vividness, over the Homeric seas.

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All forces of reality –

the breath of the sea, the crystalline shoots of the tamarisk –

were converging, and in clear mute voices speaking to me:

You live in order to live.

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Mountains and deer are sending snow

because they care for our renewal.

We sleep in their cold, sumptuously curled up

as in an embrace of oneself.

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Biography

Margarita Serafimova has published one book of poetry, “Animals and Other Gods”, in the Bulgarian (Sofia University Press, 2016). Her second book, “Demons and World”, also in the Bulgarian, is forthcoming in May 2017 (Black Flamingo Publishing, Sofia). In English, pieces of Margarita’s have appeared in Outsider Poetry, Heavy Athletics, Anti-Heroin Chic, the Peacock Journal, Noble / Gas Quarterly, In Between Hangovers, Window Quarterly/ Patient Sounds, with others forthcoming in The Voices Project, Obra/ Artifact, The MockingHeart Review, London Grip New Poetry, and The Birds We Piled Loosely. Margarita is a human rights lawyer. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaritaISerafimova/

Robert Ford

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In The Moment

The kids are in love, and so sweetly

you can see it melting out of them,

see gravity getting smashed into

a million pieces beneath their feet

as they bounce along, occasionally

touching down because they can.

 

In their free hands, the ones not

holding the other’s, they clutch balloons

painted in colours we can no longer see,

inflated with their restless thoughts of

an unmapped future, raw materials

yet to be processed into anxieties.

 

Don’t you remember the first days of our

being? The damage we caused to gravity?

Our balloons? How the brilliant shock

of it interrupted time itself, and made

the future evaporate, while we failed to

notice ourselves not breathing properly?

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Biography

Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear PoetryWhale Road Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/

Bee Smith

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I Was A Peculiar Woman Child
 

After I discovered Emily Dickinson

At age eleven

I took to writing cryptic poems

with a homemade quill,

a seagull feather nib

dipped into a bottle of Quink.

 

On Sunday nights for Bonanza

I donned a pioneer dress and sunbonnet

made for my sister to wear

in a sesquicentennial pageant.

I liked to immerse myself

In full period dress for TV.

 

Just as my bosoms budded,

my brothers’ burst into off key renditions

Barbara is Bustin’Out All Over,

twanging the straps of my training bra,

I became obsessed with the past,

the kind at least a century old

 

before hot pants and halter tops

flip flops on hot sidewalks

the flush of shame at strange men’s eyes

looking at me as I walked down Chestnut Street,

arms loaded with library books,

their wolf whistles sounding like cat calls.

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Biography

Bee Smith facilitates Word Alchemy Creative Writing Workshops in West Cavan and is on the Irish Art Council’s Writers in Prisons panel. Her articles can be found widely across the blogosphere. She is the author of “Brigid’s Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine” available as an ebook on Amazon. BrigidsWay.

Eva Griffin

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Losing Dogs

I call my mood swings me and you;

We will shit on everything you love.

We raised our bodies on streets,

Growing up under the chill and

Approaching every momentary

Lapse of happy

With the affection of a kitten

That has never seen heat.

Have faith in our bad taste,

We are the flavour of your mouth

That no soap can tackle.

We bet on losing dogs for fun,

But the love songs would still

Be written without them;

A few broken windows

Can make you empathetic

After all.

We mark our territory by crying on things.

Is it any wonder we enter this world

Wet and screaming?

Going from one thing

To everything

So suddenly,

We pass into the grand narrative

In tangled terms,

Our cries like little laughs.

Tickle some sun beams

And if you’re happy

We’ll grow up like you,

But we are only

What you think you are.

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Biography

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.

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Editor’s Note

If you’d like to read more about Eva Griffin, and we highly recommend that you do, please click here for our Issue #5 poetry and art spotlight.