The North 47 & Bill Griffiths

The North 47 has just arrived – a strong issue, with 25-word poems commissioned to celebrate 25 yrs of the Poetry Business. Glad to have contributed a review of Bill Griffiths’ wonderful Collected Earlier Poems. Here’s the opening of the review:

Bill Griffiths died in 2007 age 59. This collection, edited by Alan Halsey and Ken Edwards, brings together, for the first time, his poems up until 1980. The final poem in this book, ‘Building: The New London Hospital,’ contains the lines: ‘even in the middle of a swimming-pool / I still know my own feet’. The puzzling clarity of this, the sense of sudden insight, of finding your feet where you don’t expect to, and the combination of seriousness and playfulness, come some way towards describing what it’s like to read these poems. Griffiths’ note on the poem illustrates his approach: ‘this long sequence centres on the theme of reincarnation and contains covered refs to an alleged murder committed outside a pub in Stepney, which tho I put the passages in the first person, was nothing to do with me. Otherwise most of the info comes from fellow-workers on the London Hospital extension.’ The combination of such disparate material and the wry reference to his non-involvement with the murder is typical Griffiths…


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