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A poetry collection on inheritance, loss, and the relationship between real and imagined lives.
In Little Silver, moments of crisis - a near-drowning, a fall down a mine-shaft, the death of a friend - prompt reflection on the stories 'we tell ourselves about our / selves', and on the sheer strangeness of existing in our bodies and in time. The book's title sequence responds to the recent demolition of Jane Griffiths' childhood home, whose absence appears as 'a little silvering between the trees'. Setting its absence against the memory of 'Little Silver', a small enclave of houses in Exeter that she passed on the way home from school (and whose name fascinated her), she considers the gap between the two as the space of the imagination: the origins of her writing.
Other poems centre on the theme of childlessness and the relationship between that and other kinds of making; a sequence centred on conversations between an artist and her imaginary children concludes when the daughter asks 'So if we existed the tree could stand alone?' The emphasis in these poems is on inventiveness and endeavour, on lifelines and human traces.
Bloodaxe Books, 9781780376127, 80pp.
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
About the Author
Jane Griffiths was born in Exeter in 1970, and brought up in Holland and Devon. After reading English at Oxford, where her poem 'The House' won the Newdigate Prize, she worked as a book-binder in London and Norfolk. Returning to Oxford, she completed her doctorate on the Tudor poet John Skelton and worked on the Oxford English Dictionary for two years. After teaching English Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and then at the universities of Edinburgh and Bristol, she now teaches at Wadham College, Oxford, and is literary editor of the Oxford Magazine. She won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry in 1996. Her book Another Country: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008), which included a new collection, Eclogue Over Merlin Street (2008), together with large selections from her previous two Bloodaxe collections, A Grip on Thin Air (2000) and Icarus on Earth (2005), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Her later collections from Bloodaxe are Terrestrial Variations (2012), Silent in Finisterre (2017), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and Little Silver (2022). She co-edited the study Architectural Space and the Imagination: Houses in Literature and Art from Classical to Contemporary (Palgrave, 2020) with Adam Hanna.