from Love Toward the Ashes

Joanna Trzeciak, translating from the Polish written by Tadeusz Rózewicz

copyright ©English translation copyright © 2011 by Joanna Trzeciak

What sprouts out of the ashes of
Samuel Beckett?

somewhere in this space is
his fading breath
and then a motionless utterance

in the beginning was the word
in the end of the body

What decomposes? What suffers?
meat still full of love
spoils in time
one has to bury it

Notes on the Poem

Reading the opening lines of the poem "Love Toward the Ashes", we realize that an oft-used symbol or image can deliver distinctly divergent effects when different poets wield it. Let's compare this poem excerpt - from the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Sobbing Superpower by Joanna Trzeciak, translating from the Polish written by Tadeusz Rózewicz - to another recent Poem of the Week selection. We pondered the symbolism and significance of ashes when Poem of the Week turned its spotlight on "Her Birthday as Ashes in Seawater" by Sharon Olds, from her 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Arias. Part of the exercise of gathering our thoughts and reactions to Olds' poem brought us to a purveyor of cremation urns, who offered interesting insights into religious and cultural interpretations of this end-of-life image and ritual. Olds' lyrical ebullience imbues ashes with lightness, life and the optimism of considering life's continuum in her poem. What a contrast, then, to encounter Tadeusz Rózewicz's abrupt words, translated into crisp English by Joanna Trzeciak, in reference to the ashes of Samuel Beckett. Olds' poem presumably comes from or at least arises from imagining a literal experience of spreading the ashes of a loved one. We can likely assume that Rózewicz's is a figurative reference, and might not be referring to the actual death of Beckett, but perhaps to Beckett's posthumous influence or oeuvre, based on an artistic arsenal of prose, poetry, drama and translation not unlike Rózewicz's own. Either way, both poems present ashes as a substance denoting a transitional state between life and death. And either way, ashes symbolize the end of something. Depending on the approach, that something could be sad, horrifying, disgusting, profoundly and irrevocably final, or it could be a beginning or continuum, positive, hopeful, part of a greater whole. (This examination of the phrase "ashes to ashes" in literature offers a range of examples.) Either way, ashes or the related materials of burning or decomposition are fertilizer, with all that suggests, but in comparison to Olds' treatment, Rozewicz's words as translated by Trzeciak are earthier and more explicit: "meat still full of love spoils in time stinks one has to bury it" The observation is acerbic, but not devoid of wit, either. 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize judge Heather McHugh captures this aspect of Rozewicz's voice and approach perfectly in her citation: "Rózewicz proves as wary ... of heaven’s offices as man’s. Alert to our condition’s own momentous momentariness, he’s funny, fierce, or casual; but never inconsequential.” Just because he's wary and acerbic and witty, funny, fierce and/or casual ... doesn't mean his words, for all their brisk, seemingly dismissive tone, lack positivity and, as the title points out, love.


Michael Palmer

copyright ©2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Michael Palmer

Soon the present will arrive
at the end of its long voyage

from the Future-Past to Now
weary of the endless nights in cheap motels

in distant nebulae
Will the usual host

of politicians and celebrities
show up for the occasion

or will they huddle out of sight
in confusion and fear

Notes on the Poem

When a poem is spare and succinct, how that affects readers may differ widely. Does it make the poem cold and clinical? Conversely, does the poem come across as more honest if it is unembellished and to the point? Is there a greater sense of calm - or perhaps a stronger sense of emotion - with fewer, presumably well chosen, possibly more powerful words? Michael Palmer's "Soon", from his 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Company of Moths, quietly stirs up these questions. The brief, unadorned presentation of Palmer's poem is reminiscent of, though not strictly structured as, haiku. Surprisingly, in 471 weeks of considering Poems of the Week drawn from Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted works, we've rarely come across the influential and much-emulated form. Not mentioned in Poem of the Week notes, but rather in the judges' citation, Jane Munro's 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize winning collection Blue Sonoma is commended for work with "the directness and clarity of haiku". Palmer's poems in Company of Moths seem to apply haiku-like constraints to achieve, like Munro, direct, clear words. The elegant simplicity of "Soon" imbues the words with both a sense of wise plainspokenness and timelessness. At a time when we perhaps have a particular appetite for it, the poem is glowingly prescient, although it was published over 15 years ago ... which feels like an eternity. Amidst its simple words and phrases, though, something intricate is being played with the sense of time. "Soon the present will arrive at the end of its long voyage" suggests that we or someone has been living in the past to this point. Fascinatingly, the concept of "future-past" is that something would have or should have happened in the past, but didn't necessarily. With the arrival of the present, the Now (importantly, maybe ominously capitalized), does this mean that we or someone has been living with regrets? The poem also features a notable and slightly disoriently absence of punctuation, when clearly statements are being made and questions are being asked. So in fact, the poem is not as simple and straightforward as it appears at first glance. Does this inform the title - "Soon" - with hope or trepidation?


Clayton Eshleman, translating from the Spanish written by César Vallejo

copyright ©2007 The Regents of the University of California

Poet and translator Clayton Eshleman

   I tell myself: at last I have escaped the noise;
no one sees me on my way to the sacred nave.
Tall shadows attend,
and Darío who passes with lyre in mourning.

   With innumerable steps the gentle Muse emerges,
and my eyes go to her, like chicks to corn.
Ethereal tulles and sleeping titmice harass her,
while the blackbird of life dreams in her hand.

   My God, you are merciful, for you have bestowed this nave,
where these blue sorcerers perform their duties.
Darío of celestial Americas! They are so much
like you! And from your braids they make their hair shirts.

   Like souls seeking burials of absurd gold,
those wayward archpriests of the heart,
probe deeper, and appear … and addressing us from afar,
bewail the monotonous suicide of God!

Notes on the Poem

We were sorry to learn this past week of the passing of respected poet and translator Clayton Eshleman. We are grateful for the poetry and translation works he has left us. He was immensely dedicated to poetry and translation throughout his career, with distinguished work on Aimé Césaire, Pablo Neruda, Antonin Artaud and more. His translation of César Vallejo's work was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Poetry Prize, and we are going to revisit one of those powerful pieces this week. In January, 2019, Poem of the Week considered again how Eshleman beautifully transformed into English the work in Spanish of César Vallejo. That work is encompassed in The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition. In the fall of 2018, we also pondered Eshleman's work in the poem "Spain, Take This Cup From Me". If one is proficient in both Spanish and English, the delight and the challenge of reading work like this is the facility with which one can alternate between the meaning and nuance of the original and translated text. Knowledge of both languages gives one the privilege of assessing the quality of the translation. The bilingual reader is afforded the luxury of determining if the poem has traveled safely and soundly from one language and culture to another and is still, arguably, poetic. But if one is reading work that has arrived in English from an origin in which one is not conversant, what then? Trust in the translator is essential, not just to employ linguistic accuracy, but to apply cultural sensitivity, historical context and more, along with an ear for the original's lyricism and music. Here is an interesting collection of reactions to what can and cannot be translated when poetry moves from one language to another. Ellen Welcker ponders this and more in her 2009 essay "Only Poems Can Translate Poems: On the Impossibility and Necessity of Translation" in The Quarterly Conversation. Her piece includes ruminations by 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted poet Joy Harjo, who performs a startling type of translation in her work by, as a person of Muskogee heritage, not writing in her native tongue but in, as the essay describes it, "the language of her people’s colonizers". This powerful essay posits:
"In poetry, as well as in translation, there is no ultimate meaning. Indeed, the “trans” in translation and trans-creation indicates that we are always moving across languages, across cultures."
and concludes:
"As post-colonial translation and trans-creation become bolder and more experimental, the idea of ownership of language falls away. Each newly created text becomes the author’s, and simultaneously becomes the world’s. These poetries are dialogues, conversations. Language becomes three-dimensional as it encompasses more of its history and culture. Poems to be translated are no longer mathematical equations filled with estimations and “equals” signs. As new poetries assert that there can be both “homage and reappropriation,” new methods of translation arise and language is stretched, tested, discovered, and discovered anew."
When we read poetry in translation, we either trust poetic and linguist guides such as Clayton Eshleman, Susan Wicks, Heather McHugh, Mira Rosenthal, Joanna Trzeciak and more to present us with a faithful rendition of the original work, or we are in a position to critique the quality of their work because we're conversant in the original and translated languages. Either way, we can appreciate that translators undeniably embark on daunting missions, often crossing thorny terrain, often crossing it alone, to bring us poetry from a place of origin to a new place that still respects and holds precious a work's roots and essence. As Welcker observes, "translation and trans-creation are not only about what is lost, but also about new solidarities, built by a fusion of language."

from No Sky

Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan

copyright ©2019 by Etel Adnan English translation © 2019 by Sarah Riggs

Truths are
department stores:
you are going up,
you take the escalator,
you don’t come back

In the tentative
darkness of the
raisins there was
half of the
then the shadow
of the past

Sometimes I get ready for the
  voyage of no return,
but dawn raises the curtains,
  and my adolescence
  is standing at the corner
      of nowhere

Under the wonder of
cold skies

Notes on the Poem

What an intoxicating experience, when a poem introduces you to an image, in just a few words captures your attention and fascination ... and then takes you in unexpected directions from what you thought the image might mean. This crisp excerpt from 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize winning collection Time, by Sarah Riggs, translated from poetry originally written in French by Etel Adnan, is endlessly surprising. "Truths are department stores" is a statement that instantly intrigues. A truth is considered an absolute, a single entity. How, then, does that equate to an entity that houses many sections and varieties of items? Or does that single truth house many dimensions? Navigating that single place with many places within it ... well, an escalator is the perfect conveyance, isn't it? Not only is an escalator a piece of everyday magic - that we take for granted while it miraculously transports between building floors, airport terminals, from subway to street and more ... "you are going up, you take the escalator" but it creates illusions that both charm and can cause harm. "you don't come back" With your usual comings and goings, you go and you do come back. What does it mean, then, when a mundane or innocent thought or activity necessitates being ready for a possible "voyage of no return"? Should we always be prepared for the epic and irreversible? This particular escalator - enchantingly but also rather deceptively - is taking you up but never returning you, to the departments through which you have passed, to your adolescence, to your past.

The Next to Last Draft

C.D. Wright

copyright ©C.D. Wright, 2002

More years pass and the book does not leave the drawer.
According to our author the book does not begin but opens on
a typewriter near a radiator. The typing machine has been
aimed at the window overlooking a park. It’s been oiled and
blown out. At heart it is domestic as an old washer with them
white sheets coming off the platen. In the missing teeth much
has been suppressed. In the space and a half, regrettable things
have been said. Nothing can be taken back. The author wanted
this book to be friendly, to say, Come up on the porch with
me, I’ve got peaches; I don’t mind if you smoke. It would be written
in the author’s own voice. A dedication was planned to
Tyrone and Tina whose names the author read in a sidewalk on
Broad. The machine’s vocation was to type, but its avocation
was to tell everyone up before light, I love you, I always will; to
tell the sisters waiting on their amniocenteses, Everything’s
going to be fine. And to make something happen for the
hundreds of Floridians betting the quinella. It would have
dinner ready for people on their feet twelve house a day. And
something else for the ones making bread hand over fist, the
gouging s-o-bs. But the book was too dependent. Women were
scattered across pages who loved the desert, but moved into
town to meet a man. The women, understand, weren’t getting
any younger. Some of these women were pecking notes into the
text when the author was out walking. One note said: John Lee
you’re still in my dreambooks, et cetera. The author had no
foresight. In previous drafts the good died right off like notes
on an acoustic guitar. Others died of money, that is, fell of
odorless, invisible, utterly quiet wounds. The work recorded
whatever it heard: dog gnawing its rump, the stove’s clock, man
next door taking out his cans, and things that went on farther
down, below buildings and composts, all with the patience of a
dumb beast chewing grass, with the inconsolable eyes of the
herd. Basically the book was intended as a hair-raising
document of the organisms. Thus and so the book opens: I have
been meaning to write you for a long long time. I’ve been
feeling so blue John Lee.

Notes on the Poem

So much is packed with deceptive ease into the flowing, colloquial, wise and wisecracking poem "The Next to Last Draft" by the late C.D. Wright from her 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Steal Away, so much so ... ... that it encompasses subjects from two other recent Poem of the Week selections. The poem is another nod to Ars Poetica, as discussed with the poem "Night-black silver, January's luminous", composed in Danish by Ulrikka S. Gernes, translated into English by Canadian poet/translators Per Brask and Patrick Friesen. The poem is also immensely enhanced by the singular delivery of the poet, as we observed with "Faceless" by Tongo Eisen-Martin. Like the Gernes/Brask/Friesen poem, Wright contemplates the process of writing poetry on a ruefully intimate scale, starting with: "More years pass and the book does not leave the drawer." This explanation of the "art of poetry" ranges through the mechanics of the artist's tools to the wanderings of the artist's attention to thoughts that might or might not further what is being created. As Gernes' narrator scribbled in a newspaper margin, Wright's narrator was making notes, too, perhaps a little more distractedly: "Some of these women were pecking notes into the text when the author was out walking. One note said: John Lee you're still in my dreambooks, et cetera." Let's remind ourselves of C.D. Wright's much-missed voice, unforgettably offering a zinger like this: "I told him I’ve got socks older than her but he would not listen" ... and then imagine that voice bringing these words to crackling life: "The work recorded whatever it heard: dog gnawing its rump, the stove's clock, man next door taking out his cans, and things that went on farther down, below buildings and composts, all with the patience of a dumb beast chewing grass, with the inconsolable eyes of the herd." That voice, applied to those words ... will, oh my, be the last word indeed on the art of the "art of poetry", Ars Poetica.

from Faceless

Tongo Eisen-Martin

copyright ©2017 by Tongo Eisen-Martin

My dear, if it is not a city, it is a prison.
If it has a prison, it is a prison. Not a city.

When a courtyard talks on behalf of military issue,
all walks take place outside of the body.

Dear life to your left
A medieval painting to your right

None of this makes an impression

Crop people living in thin air
You got five minutes
to learn how to see
through this breeze

When a mask goes sideways,
Barbed wire becomes the floor
Barbed wire becomes the roof
Forty feet into the sky
becomes out of bounds

When a mask breaks in half,
mind which way the eyes go.

Notes on the Poem

Not only are the poems of Tongo Eisen-Martin's 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Heaven Is All Goodbyes gripping on the page, but they are astounding and compelling to hear presented by the poet. We were so fortunate to do just that during the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize readings ... Once you have heard him speak, we contend that it's impossible to go back to the words on the page and not hear his voice. His demeanour has an offhand ease that makes the words seem extemporaneous, but they are faithful to the words written. The almost unearthly calm of his delivery actually demands your full attention - you are leaning forward to catch every phrase and line and absorb their intensity. Added to the marvel of Eisen-Martin's readings is that the lecterns before him are bare of pages or notes. So go ahead: read this excerpt from the poem "Faceless" and register what is revealed through imagining his voice bringing it to life. On Monday, January 18th, 2021, Tongo Eisen-Martin's indelible voice will be applied to a special keynote address he will present online for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in conjunction with Reed College of Portland, Oregon. The address is described as endeavouring "through poetry and exposition [to] investigate the trajectories of liberation for Black people in the United States and what it will require of our imagination and commitment." Even if he doesn't have notes before him for that address, we hope the blazing words will be available after - like the poems we've experienced here - for all of us to learn from and revere.

Night-black silver, January’s luminous

Per Brask and Patrick Friesen, translating from the Danish written by Ulrikka S. Gernes

copyright ©Danish Copyright © 2015 by Ulrikka S Gernes / English Translation Copyright © 2015 by Per Brask and Patrick Friesen

morning-darkness leaves behind its blacking,
rubbing off on everything I touch.
It could be worse, it could
always be worse, but could it
be better? No, never better than
this moment, it’s perfect, it’ll never
come back. The child sleeps,
the cat plays with its tail, traffic
sighs past on Falkoner Allé. I jot this down
in the margin of the newspaper, drink
a cup of tea, somewhere someone
opens a book, the year has just begun,
and life, the late dawn sneaks in,
polishes the dark spots clean.

Notes on the Poem

We have found the perfect poem with which to start a new year in which we're all investing with particular hope. The poem opening with the charmingly enigmatic line "Night-black silver, January's luminous" comes from Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments, composed in Danish by Ulrikka S. Gernes, translated into English by Canadian poet/translators Per Brask and Patrick Friesen. Gernes, Brask and Friesen introduce us to the dawning of a new day in subtle, sweet fashion. How the darkness turns to light has a literally smudged aspect to it: "January's luminous morning-darkness leaves behind its blacking, rubbing off on everything I touch." As the new day rouses, small acts and observations take on warmth and intimacy: children and cats doing the quiet things they do, the narrator scribbling in a newspaper margin, and imagining someone somewhere opening a book. That bit of scribbling suggests the new day might also herald new work. That snippet, what the narrator registers around her that might later evolve into ... well, this poem ... gives what we're reading a pleasingly circular element of Ars Poetica to it. Also pleasingly, we circle back to those smudges of darkness with which the day began. By the end of the poem ... "the year has just begun, and life, the late dawn sneaks in, polishes the dark spots clean." Accepting and contented to start a new day, inspired to perhaps start a new work, we are now very ready to start a new year.

Her Birthday as Ashes in Seawater

Sharon Olds

copyright ©2019 by Sharon Olds

By now, my mother has been pulled to the top
of many small waves, carried in the curve that curls
over, onto itself, and unknots,
again, into the liquid plain,
as her ions had first been gathered from appearances
and concepts. And her dividend,
her irreducible, like violet
down, thrown to the seals, starfish,
wolf spiders on the edge-of-Pacific
floor, I like to follow her
from matter into matter, my little quester,
as if she went to sea in a pea-green
boat. Every separate bit,
every crystal shard, seems to
be here — her nature unknowable, dense,
dispersed, her atomization a miracle,
the earth without her a miracle
as if I had arrived on my own
with nothing to owe, nothing to grieve,
nothing to fear, it would happen with me
as it would, not one molecule
lost or sent to the School Principal
or held in a dried-orange-pomander strongbox
stuck with the iron-matron maces
of the cloves. My mother is a native of this place,
she is made of the rosy plates of the shell
of one who in the silt of a trench plays
music on its own arm, draws
chords, and then the single note —
rosin, jade, blood, catgut,
siren-gut, hair, hair,
hair — I miss her, I lack my mother, such
peace there is on earth now every
tooth of her head is safe, ground down
to filaments of rock-crab fractals
and claw facets, the whole color wheel
burst and released. Oh Mom. Come sit
with me at this stone table at the bottom
of the Bay, here is a barnacle of
egg custard, here is your tiny
spoon with your initials, sup with me
at dawn on your first day — we are all
the dead, I am not apart from you,
for long, except for breath, except for

Notes on the Poem

The title "Her Birthday as Ashes in Seawater" makes pretty clear what this selection from Sharon Olds' 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Arias is about. What will reassure you that you should venture into the poem, even knowing it is about an observation in conjunction with someone's death, is that Olds will find a way to affirm life even as she looks unflinchingly at the ritual. Look no further than a purveyor of cremation urns for insights into the symbolism and significance of scattering ashes. Different faiths and traditions view cremation and the spreading of the deceased's ashes in a variety of ways, from "a way of freeing the soul or spirit", to environmental considerations to "a submission to God's will and created order, as well as a proclamation of hope in his power to raise the dead to life in an act of re-creation." All of these perspectives seem to combine in Olds' heartfelt description: "I like to follow her from matter into matter, my little quester, as if she went to sea in a pea-green boat." In her details of what is happening to her mother's ashes ... "her dividend, her irreducible, like violet down, thrown to the seals, starfish, wolf spiders on the edge-of-Pacific floor" "now every tooth of her head is safe, ground down to filaments of rock-crab fractals and claw facets" Olds manages to still be poignant amidst her clinical, verging on enthusiastic fascination with the processes under way. That poignance draws each of us in as she concludes: "we are all the dead, I am not apart from you, for long, except for breath, except for everything." Somehow, this poem is achingly appropriate as we consider the ashes of a past year we're relieved to release, knowing with both cautionary trepidation and optimism that what has been disposed of flows into the continuum of what comes next.

Glass Box

Michael Longley

copyright ©Michael Longley, 2014

for Bel Mooney

Imagine a shallow glass box
About nine inches by seven,
She writes, a bundle of papers
Inside, tied with brown ribbon,
Photos of our battlefield trip
Interleaved with war poems
She has copied out in longhand.
A shrapnel ball (in cellophane
For protection) nestles there
And rusty shrapnel casing
And the chestnuts and acorns
We examine in one photo.
In another, under a cross,
What can we be looking at?
Embroidered postcards evoke
Men who fought and loved and died,
She says. I who wrote the poems
Imagine a shallow glass box.

Notes on the Poem

Let's visit again the poem "Glass Box" from The Stairwell by Michael Longley, winner of the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. This poem both hearkens back and looks from a present day perspective at historical events that have informed a significant part of Longley's work - the First World War. The poem "Glass Box" is dedicated to Bel Mooney, a British journalist and broadcaster who has most recently written columns and articles for the tabloid newspaper Daily Mail. It was for that publication that she wrote a touching account of retracing her grandfather's wartime path. The tour she took to visit the scenes of her grandfather's World War I experiences was orchestrated by The War Poets Association, an organization that "promotes interest in the work, life and historical context of poets whose subject is the experience of war." Michael Longley is the only living poet among those whose biographies are showcased on the War Poets web site. Both Longley's poem and Mooney's reflections in her article circle back repeatedly to the simultaneously heartbreaking and spirit bolstering importance of things - letters and pictures are both fragile and vital. Postcards combine letters and pictures, and interestingly, both pieces gaze longingly at them. Mooney remembers: "As a child, I played with the silken postcards he’d sent her from France ..." Longley carefully points out: "Embroidered postcards evoke Men who fought and loved and died, She says." ... perhaps depicting the very same postcards to which Mooney refers. Mooney mentions repeatedly how significant poetry was to her in pulling together her respectful and sorrowful response to revisiting her grandfather's experiences. In turn, Longley acknowledges the poet's essential role in delicately preserving wartime memories - the physical mementoes, but also the feelings - in this final line: "I who wrote the poems Imagine a shallow glass box."

poem for your pocket

Doyali Islam

copyright ©2019 by Doyali Islam

what my pockets have kept over seasons:

coffee change. house keys. ttc tokens.

emptiness and silence and my ungloved

reticent hands. poems. thoughts of miklós

radnóti – he who hid in his pocket

a thin notebook on his forced march toward

death in some unallied forest.

beyond reason to one mass grave, one mass
silence. still, one silence his overcoat

pocket would not keep: eighteen months
passed before his wife unpacked that pocket

of earth – rifled through corpses, clothing – found
what remained. it was love. love rifled through

miklós’s silences – love gave his damp
last pages back to sunlight’s keep. oh yes

yes, it was love announcing in him, i
will find my way to you, i will come back.

Notes on the Poem

In a brief CBC interview, poet Doyali Islam packed in a plethora of rich insights into her 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection heft and her creative process, as well as potent advice for aspiring poets. She reveals that as she was crafting the work that became part of this collection, she was asking herself a lot of questions, including "Where is tenderness in our world?" and "Where are resilience and resourcefulness in daily life?" The poem "poem for your pocket" answers those questions to both startling and heartening effect. In it, the poem contrasts the mundane contents of the narrator's pocket to the lengths to which Hungarian Miklós Radnóti went to hide messages of courage and love in his pocket, messages that gave powerful solace even as they outlived him. In the interview, Islam also discusses her efforts innovating form in heft. She created the parallel poem form that she uses throughout the collection, with each poem displayed sideways on each page to accommodate two columns of poetry separated by a slim middle column. As readers will discover as they make their way through the collection, the relationship of each set of two columns varies from poem to poem. In addition, Islam has worked with different variations of the sonnet, a timeless and surprisingly versatile poetry structure. Over the years we've been presenting the Poem of the Week, we've regularly marveled at the unique ways the sonnet form has been explored and wielded by Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted poets such as Rachael Boast, Paul Muldoon, Don Paterson, Hoa Nguyen and Mira Rosenthal (translating from the Polish written by Tomasz Rózycki). Islam is assuredly in fine company as she takes the form in directions that bolster her contentions about the power of poetry that's personal, so well illustrated in "poem for your pocket". Although we were not able this year to celebrate the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist with live readings, the poets provided us with wonderful audio tracks with which we crafted readings videos. Here is Doyali Islam's reading from heft: and the rest of the 2020 readings are here for your enjoyment.