Friday, 19 February 2021

The February Backroom: Steve Griffiths

We are overdue a fine Welsh poet. Steve Griffiths was born in Anglesey, spent his working life in London, and now lives in Ludlow, where I met him a few years back. Ludlow is a wee artists' town on the border between Wales and England where I discovered, I think, the world's most perfect pub. It seemed to me a great place for poetry to thrive. The town and the pub. Steve has published eight collections of poems, most recently a pamphlet, 'Updrafts' (Fair Acre Press, 2020), and 'Weathereve: Selected Poems' (2019), the fruit of seven collections, all but the first published by Seren and Cinnamon Press. He is one of a hundred twentieth century Welsh poets writing in English featured in The Library of Wales ‘Poetry 1900-2000’ (2007, Parthian Books). 

'Poetry', he says 'holds body and soul together, which has not always been the case.' The poem he is reading here today is about words, an appropriate subject for a poet, but which here take on strange Hitchcockian significance, almost a malevolence. A poet in the stasis of lockdown surrounded, as ever, by a persistent swarms of words.


Don’t get me wrong,
some of my best friends
are words,
especially my own.
There are more of them about

than there used to be:
they stick to your face
and drop to the ground
with odd numbers of legs
protesting at the air.

They don’t string together
on the page and stay there:
like birds on the wire
they abandon you, autumn
can come any time.

There’s no knowing whither
they’ll be bound: perhaps
to the forgotten crossroads
where an adult’s words
manhandled you aside

as you tried
to describe the thunder.
There’s no ceiling to belief
in their power: what they say
goes before they wither.

There is so much hurt in words,
there are not enough
eyes in the world
to flinch from it,
those eyes lit up

that are looking hungrily
for words to do justice to them.
The words are greater in number
than the maggot or the starling,
than the sum of meaning.

Friends tell me, sit and listen
to what’s there where none
penetrate, but they do,
through cracks and keyholes
and channelled down the wind 

in the grass where I lie.
It's a wise man
who can turn away from them.
Even as I look up the clouds are
heavy with little ones.

Steve's Website:

His Author's page at Silverwood Books:

A Video poem Sequence: Late Late Love:


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