Seeing the Body: Poems
Nominee for the 2021 NAACP Image Award in Poetry
An elegiac and moving meditation on the ways in which we witness "bodies" of grief and healing.
Poems and photographs collide in this intimate collection, challenging the invisible, indefinable ways mourning takes up residence in a body, both before and after life-altering loss.
In radiant poems―set against the evocative and desperate backdrop of contemporary events, pop culture, and politics―Rachel Eliza Griffiths reckons with her mother’s death, aging, authority, art, black womanhood, memory, and the American imagination. The poems take shape in the space where public and private mourning converge, finding their magic and music alongside brutality and trauma. Griffiths braids a moving narrative of identity and its possibilities for rebirth through image and through loss.
A photographer as well as a poet, Griffiths accompanies the fierce rhythm of her verses with a series of ghostly, imaginative self-portraits, blurring the body’s internal wilderness with landscapes alive with beauty and terror. The collision of text and imagery offers an associative autobiography, in which narratives of language, absence, and presence are at once saved, revised, and often erased. Seeing the Body dismantles personal and public masks of silence and self-destruction to visualize and celebrate the imperfect freedom of radical self-love.