Kenyon Review Online, A Micro-Review of Lighting the Shadow by Rachel Griffiths

"This fourth collection by Rachel Eliza Griffiths transforms what the eye sees; as a gifted photographer as well as poet, this poet is definitely up to the task. The majority of these poems display emotionally subjective meaning: the speaker nimbly drops into moments of import and rapidly gifts image after image, with the splendid attentiveness of her language bringing the reader close. Other poems do reveal their interiority to the reader, using a mixture of lyric and narrative in language that bends the knowable, such as “The Woman and the Branch”: “Carrying the glass / inside my skin to school, I was young. / Show us what you have, the world said.” The theme of womanhood appears immediately, with four poems in the first section using some variation of “woman” in the title, and one discovers that womanhood is essential to nearly all the poems. Griffiths builds thematic layers to create intersectionality, for history is a crossroads for women—the history of just-passed moments and ancestral history, too. Another theme is violence, but rather than relying upon terrifying physical spectacle, Griffiths translates trauma into beauty, and, in turn, presents political transgression. As one reaches the end of the book, Griffiths continues to braid political images through her lyrics, threads that tug the reader through mentions of various forms of abuse: police brutality, violence towards women, and various instances of inhumanity. But throughout this book, glimpses of joy: “Sometimes prayer.” Last words: Though themes reoccur, what is most striking about this collection is Griffiths’s amazing innovation. She revisits themes, yet her familiarity is never stale—she never writes the same poem. Instead, in the words of the ancestors, she “troubles” the moment."

-Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

"S" at LA Review of Books' new channel Voluble! by Rachel Griffiths

"Another author-made videopoem recently published by Voluble, this time from the enormously talented poet and photographer Rachel Eliza GriffithsClick through to listen to her artist’s statement, where she explains that “‘S’ is the first piece in a trilogy of videos that engage Audre Lorde’s poem The Black Unicorn.” Her discussion of the relationship between audio and video, hearing and seeing in her creation of the video is absolutely fascinating." - Moving Poems

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Johnson Museum of Art : Artist Talk with Rachel Eliza Griffiths by Rachel Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is the author of four poetry collections: Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015); Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011), which was selected for the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus American Library Association; The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011); and Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010). Also a visual artist, she is the creator of Poets on Poetry (P.O.P.), a series of interviews that gathers more than fifty contemporary poets together in conversation to discuss poetry in relation to individual human experience and culture. Her honors include fellowships from Cave Canem, the Millay Colony for the Arts residency, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Soul Mountain, and Vermont Studio Center. Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

This free public lecture is supported in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and held in conjunction with the Spring 2016 course “Embodying the Object: Writing with the Collection,” a collaboration between the Johnson Museum and the Creative Writing Program.

The Museum is open tonight until 8:00 PM!

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PEN TEN with Natalie Diaz by Rachel Griffiths

"Writers— like so many groups of people—are not monolithic. So, for myself, the responsibility is a hydra-headed practice of witnessing and action. That means accountability—to a greater world and to, especially, my own spiritual ecosystem. No matter how inward or outward my gaze, no matter how unbearable and impossible, I must try to keep my hundred eyes open and my thousand hands open, translating, transcribing, and making offerings wherever I travel, even if it’s only my own interior." - See more at:

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Strange Fire Collective Features Rachel Eliza Griffiths by Rachel Griffiths

ZJM: Your images, for me, invoke ideas about the conventions of gaze upon the black female body. Do you feel that your images serve as an interruption to this convention? 

REG: Kahlo once said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." I photograph the black body because I know it and at the same time I know it from the practice of the directed, reductive gaze that seeks to control and to erase its humanity. I definitely think that my images can be viewed as interruptions to the convention of the viewer's gaze but they are doing something else far more deeply, which is private for me and perhaps, other bodies of color. The more I interrupt and subvert the stereomythographies about black women's bodies, the more freed and open I become to discover, embody, engage, and liberate my own language and imagination in terms of identity. And through that intense concentrate I know it opens up a greater context beyond me. 


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PEN American Banned Books Week by Rachel Griffiths


"I remembered how it felt, as a young black woman writer, to be seen. When you are seen you can no longer disappear." - Rachel Eliza Griffiths

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