Tonight, Saturday June 20, 2020, at 7:00pm ET, Books and Books (and the Miami Book Fair Online) presents “An Evening with Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Edwidge Danticat,” discussing Griffiths’ Seeing the Bodies: Poems. Available via Crowdcast.
“Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ mother died around the same time as mine. As we both mourned, she sent me incandescent words to comfort me, phrases that read like invocations and felt like salves and balms. Her work has always wowed me with its beauty, depth, and luminosity, and there it was also healing me. Radiantly elegiac, this hybrid work of poetry and photographs is one we all need for living, loving, and letting go.”—Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything Inside
“She died & I— / In the spring of her blood, I remember” (19) opens Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ powerful new collection, Seeing the Body: Poems. Dedicated to Griffiths’ late mother, this fierce elegy tackles grief, womanhood, blackness, family, and love. An accomplished photographer, Griffiths also includes a series of ghostly black-and-white self-portraits that add to the intimacy and imagination of this significant work.
Set against the evocative and desperate backdrop of contemporary events, pop culture, and politics, Seeing the Body also encompasses more public losses. In “Cathedral of the Snake & Saint,” she remembers a memorial for iconic writer Maya Angelou, a moment of both pain and celebration at the weight of a great life. “Our people screamed / her name in the hollows,” she tells us, “Maya Maya Maya / while she rose up & flew with wings so wide I was cold / from the brilliant shade they made” (38). Elsewhere, Griffiths explores the long legacy of grief and generational trauma with which black Americans live.
About the Author: RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS is the author of four previous collections of poetry, including Lighting the Shadow. Her literary and visual work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Paris Review, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.
About the Moderator: EDWIDGE DANTICAT is the author of numerous books, including Everything Inside: Stories (Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Story Prize and the 2020 Vilcek Prize in Literature), The Art of Death, a National Book Critics Circle finalist; Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times Notable Book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah’s Book Club selection; and Krik? Krak!, also a National Book Award finalist. A 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature winner and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” grant, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere.