Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection
Jane Griffiths writes mysteriously resonant poems about home, exile and shifting frontiers in classically precise language. Another Country presents a selection from her first two collections, A Grip on Thin Air and Icarus on Earth, as well as a whole collection of new work, Eclogue Over Merlin Street. She has since published a later collection, Terrestrial Variations.
Where the earlier books are shot through with a migrant’s sense of estrangement, her new poems explore what it might mean to settle in a place. The central sequence Eclogue Over Merlin Street highlights this changing perspective through a dialogue between two voices of an immigrant in London, one embracing her new life but the other still haunted by displacement. Many other poems echo this tension, caught between love of a place and the fear of losing it.
Jane Griffiths celebrates the landscapes she lives in by observing and recording them, yet with a strong awareness that these places exist in and of themselves, regardless of her observation. Hers are poems that delight in being in the world, despite the threat of loss.
'Jane Griffiths is a poet attracted to the cross-hatchings of matter and spirit; inner and outer; air and water; foreignness and a sense of home…she has something of the Dutch still-life painter's eye: the comprehension of solid form as nothing, finally, but the effect of light. Sensuously wrought and even, at times, subtly erotic, her poems simultaneously evoke another level of pure abstraction, with words in place of coils of paint' – Adam Thorpe, Guardian
'For Griffiths, meaning is not so much to be teased out of the universe as it is to be seen. Her underlying conviction seems to be that, if we can eliminate our own warring needs, distractions and expectations, we can read the language of the world' – Rose Solari, Poet Lore
'A major achievement... outstanding...complex and subtle in thought, supple of tone and piercing in its observation' - Sarah Broom, Times Literary Supplement
'The extraordinary exuberance of Jane Griffiths's poems is a product of their strange balancing between the image and the idea. The images seem to have a verbal life of their own, generated by a dominating thought that the reader is hardly aware of. But then it dawns on you, slowly but unforgettably, and you enjoy the things in the poem all the more when you see what they are for' - Bernard O'Donoghue