Next Big Thing Interview SeriesMariela Griffor (March 2013) Susan Kelly DeWitt, one of Sacramento's best poets, tagged me for the "Next Big Thing Interview Series", a new Internet phenomenon in which writers answer the same ten questions about new books, forthcoming books, work-in-progress or collaborations. Here are the questions and my responses: 1. What is the working title of your book? The Psychiatrist 2. Where did the idea come from for the book? I was asked by a poet friend to put together a New & Selected book. I sent the book out to several publishers and for months, more than year in fact, I didn't hear anything until I got an email from Eyewear Publishing in the UK. Todd Swift, the editor, wrote me an email and asked for a new updated version which I sent immediately. At the end of the year I was offered a publication date for this New & Selected. I was delighted. The launch of the book will be October 2013 at The London Review Bookstore (The LRB), in London, UK. The address is 14 Bury Place, London, WC1A 2JL. 020 7269 9030 if you would like to join us. 3. What genre does your book fall under? Poetry 4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? If I were to choose actors to perform my poems, I would like to see Stina Ekblad, Carolina Cartagena, Carolina Vera - actors that appreciate and understand poetry - perform the poems and promote the book or the poems. For me it is revealing to hear and see other people perform my poetry and the poems of others, too! 5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? These poems will prompt you to slow down, think and remember. 6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? The poems were written in between 1986 and 2009. It took me almost two years to put together the poems for this New & Selected. It is my third book in almost twenty three years. 7. What other books would you compare this to within your genre? Many other books come to my mind, but mine is better! 8. Will your book be self-published or published by a press? The book will be published by Eyewear Publishing in the Fall of 2013 as I mentioned before. It will be distributed in the States and be available at Eyewear Publishing This collection contains 50 poems, written in the period from 1986 to 2009. The poems are about traumas of the past that lead to the tension between political idealism, motherhood and the shifting ground of modern social structure. It is a range of voices from the past and the future that speak of a vision of a new social order. 9. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? I would say there is a complex but interesting journey - to say the least - from a first poem born in a refugee camp where I lived in 1985 to the solitude and reflective times in my suburban home in the States. The painful experiences and events of a family completely torn apart by the politics of a country on the verge of collapse. It is a book that will entertain your mischievous mind, give you a kick of unusual events and if I'm lucky make you reflect for a while. Please share a sample of the writing: A MOTHER THING When I got "home" from the hospital there was a bed and a baby bed beside it, and a letter from my mother that was forwarded from the refugee camp. In the letter my mother said that she had missed the bus that would have brought her from the South of Chile to the airport to say goodbye. Somebody told her that I was leaving. She had read about J's death in the newspapers. More than 1000 people came to his funeral and the riots that followed were covered on national TV. Reuters smuggled pictures out of the country and in the archives of The Agency that I would read 20 years later it would say: …the case of J's may turn into another scandal similar to the case concerning the death of the three "degollados". The last paragraph of the letter said "I hope now when you are a mother yourself you can understand your own mother a little bit better." I couldn't answer her. Not because I didn't have anything to say but it was so hard to say it. I wish I could have written something to her at that time to bring us closer. But I still couldn't think clearly. It would be a long time before I could. (from The Psychiatrist, first appeared in the Aldebaran Review) 10. Make up a question you think is pressing in the way of poetry today. What are some of the challenges of writing poetry today? I think the incessant pressure for publishing and producing printing material can damage the quality of writing. Poetry cannot be written in a short period of time and in the tremendously demanding day to day life without suffering the consequences of that. The other challenging part is to find a balance between writing and publishing periods. The first one is so private and fragile and the second one completely the opposite, is very public and a commanding, all of this needs a sovereign balance of mind or a terrific literary network! Thanks Susan Kelly-DeWitt for tagging me for The Next Big Thing. It was fun! I'm tagging Chard deNiord, Travis Denton, Chad Sweeney and Jennifer Tseng.
by Mariela GrifforMayapple Press 2007 HOUSE is a love affair between the poet and Chile. While making real the struggles of war, becoming an expatriate and the alienation that accompanies the immersion in a new culture, Griffor also conveys the beauty and nostalgia she feels for her home country. She commands our attention, and we share her sadness, compassion, anger and hope. Influenced greatly by the American lyric tradition, Mariela's poems play softly and skillfully; the smooth strum lingers in the readers ears. Mariela Griffor is the author of EXILIANA. Born in the city of Concepcion in southern Chile, she attended the University of Santiago and the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. She left Chile for an involuntary exile in Sweden in 1985. Ms. Griffor lives in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, where she is founder of the Institute for Creative Writers at Wayne State University and Publisher of Marick Press.
In terms of subject matter, House is about pillow talk, stars in the sky, and childhood innocence. It is about torture chambers, bloodshed done in the name of God. It praises love for an aunt, a grandmother, a daughter, a friend. Its prayers need answers from a God sometimes not felt or found. Have we offended You?, the poet pleads. The words of House spring from a mind whose mother tongue is not English—therefore we can forgive her sometimes far from bull’s-eye diction. For example, in “Twenty-Nine: Yellow Ribbons,” she writes, My skin is curdled with hope. This expression is odd. When speaking of hope, a writer should select a word more positively charged, such as “brimming” or “shining.” Yet these kinds of mistakes can be forgiven, as Griffor’s art does the important job of reminding one that murder is murder in any country; tears are tears no matter what the nationality. more ... — Heather McMacken of thedetroiter.comMariela Griffor transcends the terrible and sordid hell of our sociopolitical everyday to penetrate into territories of moving sands...zones where the imagination leaves the body's prison to lead us to new experiences, subtle, hopeful, contradictory, and in the end, very human. more ... — Camilo Marks author of Altiva Musica de la Tormenta The author's voice is ours: And, yet, the politics are inescapable, their deeply felt human urgency pierces the reader (at least this reader) with the sense of recognition, compassion, understanding. The love poem and political poem are brought together in these lines and their unity is clear, and also somehow instructive to many American poets of our time. — Ilya Kaminsky author of Dancing in Odessa
ExilianaLuna Publications 2007 The poetry of Mariela Griffor, a Chilean poet by way of both Sweden and the United States, refreshes itself at every turn: at once vivacious and soulful, candid and lyrical, fraught with the exigencies of exile, but perfumed by memory. — Molly Peacock author of Cornucopia It is not just her lyrical voice and not her biography that attracts me to Griffor's work it is "her ability to write about love in the time of war, attempting to make of memory's violent imprint into language an art. Reading this book, I am most interested in Griffor's constant pursuit of both tenderness and truth. — Ilya Kaminsky author of Dancing in Odessa An incredibly powerful and complex journey beyond the window of exile into the depths of the experience. Exiliana is brilliant and maddening in its uncensored truth about love and death, war and life-brilliant in the richness and detail that can only come from a mind rare enough to focus on both, the war-torn graves of Latin America and the politics of thrown away pink sofas on the streets of Detroit, maddening in the way it forces us to continuously question the reality of our own lives. This is a significant work by any standard. — Rainelle Burton author of The Root Worker
Site design by © 2006 Mariela Griffor. All Rights Reserved. Last Update: June 2012. ^ Back to top