Launch of new collection by Tipp poet
On February 3, John Griffin, a native of Tipperary Town, gave a reading to launch Erosions, his first full collection with Salmon Poetry.
John travelled home to Tipperary Town from Saudi Arabia where he is the academic director in a private, international school, to launch his book. John, who has been writing since his early 20s, has two chapbooks published in the US: After Love (Pen and Anvil) and Absences: A sequence (The Esthetic Apostle). Erosions is John’s first full collection published by the renowned Salmon Poetry, a publishing house based in County Clare. This collection represents John’s earliest poems, written, he says, in the 1980s with many completed manuscripts ready to be launched into the world.
In his Irish Times article, John wrote that his collection is “as much about nature, both violent and calm, as it is about exile, chasing the exotic, confronting illness and death, searching for identity…”.
Many of the poems in Erosions make reference to John’s childhood in Tipperary town. His short sequence ‘Ars Poetica’ describes an initiation rite into a group of friends – here the speaker keeps his ear to the track in the meadow until the train is in sight. Later in the poem he recalls the “sudden death in a car accident of one of our boyhood friends that marked our loss of innocence”. Of that determining moment, John writes that we had now “matriculated into a world where even our young friends could accidently perish”. It was a moment that marked the start of his writing life.
John’s book and reading was introduced by Eleanor Hooker, his sister, also a published poet, who lives in Dromineer. Eleanor said that John’s writing achieves “that which is at the heart of all poetry – the craft of making the world anew, making what we thought we understood, strange and beautiful and full of awakenings”. Eleanor described his writing as erudite, and learned, but always accessible. A leitmotif throughout the collection, she said, is the plight of the émigré and what separation and absences entail.
In addition to John’s siblings and large extended family, guests included John’s uncle Brendan, a former Fine Gael TD, who served as Junior Minister for Culture, his former Abbey School English teachers, Michael Ryan and Tom O’Donoghue; Eleanor’s former English and History teacher, Dr Desmond Marnane; photographer, Olly Griffin; artist, Stephen Rhatigan; poet, Sinéad Griffin; artist and writer, Gary Lonergan, and wood-turner, Robbie Kingston. Family and friends travelled great distances to celebrate the launch with John, including one of his siblings, who writes and publishes short stories and creative non-fiction under a pseudonym.
At the close of the event John thanked Jessie Lendennie and Siobhan Hutson at Salmon Poetry for producing such a beautiful book, and also librarians Catherine Fogarty and Majella Hickey for hosting the event.
Erosions is available to buy at all good bookstores and directly online from https://www.salmonpoetry.com/