Friday, May 8, 2009

Bill Griffin

Bill Griffin
“Musings” for April 23

Bill Griffin is a family doctor in rural North Carolina and long time Board member of the NC Poetry Society. He is also a fine poet. Author of three collections of poetry, his work has appeared in many regional and national journals including: Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Poem, NC Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, and Illuminations.
His most recent chapbook is Snake Den Ridge: a Bestiary (March Street Press 2008). In it the various creatures of the Smoky Mountains speak their mind. Bear, for example, states:

if you hear me, it will be the rising chest
of the mountain and its timeless slow
and if you hear me
it will only be because
I didn’t hear you first.

As if the words are not beautiful and authentic enough, each poem is accompanied by a sublime drawing by Bill’s wife, illustrator Linda French Griffin.
In a recent review of Snake Den Ridge, I said the book could be used “to add immediate aesthetic beauty, intellectual depth, and meditative calm to any living room or waiting room fortunate enough to have the book placed therein” because “the poems’ unique combination of intellect and readability and the visual appeal of the sketches will make any room a more interesting place.”
Often today it seems the only ones interested in reading poetry are other poets, and just as often it seems poets are all-too-willing to write only for that audience. Such is not the case with Griffin. His poems are compelling and intricate, full of precise language and imagery, but they are also straightforward and familiar enough for any reader to enjoy. At the end of each poem I find myself thinking, “Yeah. That’s it. That is what a bobcat or hawk would say.”
My own favorite of his creatures is the first and last to speak, the raven, who says at the beginning:

I know from twenty circles
of snowdeep and hungry moons
and twenty circles of fresh shoots
that Sky . . . Water . . . Earth . . .
none of them are mine.

And I know none are yours.”

And at the end:

Don’t sigh
at my passing -- each morning
and for every dawn to come
I will spread my soul of wings
where they cast no shadow
and invite you to join me as part
and presence
of Snake Den Ridge.

Griffin will visit Hickory on May 12 to read from his work with poet DB Cox as part of Poetry Hickory, held at 6:30 at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse. Those who attend will meet a poet of great warmth, hear poetry of ineffable beauty, and perhaps learn what so many poets have wanted us to understand, that the natural world is sacred, invested with a divinity which is too often and too easily obscured by our obsession with ourselves as prime mover.

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