The poems in Terrestrial Variations respond to the sheer chanciness of life. They are elegies for friends, relations, dead selves, and unrealised lives, but - like Jane Griffiths' previous poems - they are also full of things, both real and remembered, whose importance is as much literal as it is symbolic. Linguistically playful and sometimes ironically impatient with their own attention to detail, they record repeated attempts to make sense of the world and the strange business of getting on from day to day. Their slant perspective invites the reader too to realise: 'You'll never again say this is where I stand, and mean it.'
Jane Griffiths' previous book Another Country: New & Selected Poems was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Terrestrial Variations shows her extending her explorations of people and place with delight at 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
Jane Griffiths reads from Another Country and Terrestrial Variations
Jane Griffiths reads seven poems, the first six from Another Country: New & Selected Poems, and the last from the manuscript of Terrrestrial Variations: ‘Emigrants’, ‘Migration’, ‘Bilingual’, ‘Russian Dolls’, ‘Auricular’, ‘Another Country’ and ‘Border Crossing’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce ﬁlmed her reading a selection of poems from Another Country and from the manuscript of Territorial Variations before her reading at Ledbury Poetry Festival on 11 July 2012. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).