Emblems and Imagery: Sarah Gridley Wins Creative Workforce Fellowship

Poet Sarah Gridley has been selected as a 2010 Creative Workforce Fellow in Literature by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture in Cleveland, Ohio. The $20,000 fellowships are awarded to local artists in support and recognition of their work. Gridley is Assistant Professor and Poet in Residence at Case Western Reserve University, and her latest collection, Green is the Orator, will be published in April.

In this interview from the Poetry Society of America, Gridley reflects on poetry’s connections with nature, literature, art, and language, and her own inspirations. Asked if she structured Green is the Orator around any particular idea, she responds that she centered the book around several emblems, rather than ideas: “There is Osiris, green orator, god of dismemberment, vegetation, Lord of Love, Lord of Silence. There is the emblem of the veil or screen through which the acousmatic voice is heard. There is the emblem of a treasure house, the root meaning of the word thesaurus. There is the loom and the thread, emblems of the Oratrix, the mother, the Lady of Love and the Lady of Silence, giver of life.”

In this 2008 ‘Off the Shelf’ podcast from Case Western Reserve University, Gridley discusses her influences, the emblems of surprise and chance, borders and intersections—land and sea, spirit and matter, subjectivity and objectivity— that appear in her 2005 collection Weather Eye Open, and poses the question: “What is the language using us for?”

Listen to Sarah Gridley on the CWRU ‘Off the Shelf’ podcast

An excerpt from Green is the Orator:

Coefficient

About the star-cold abundance of August sand—

this spell of my two hands working in the dark
I liken to the feeling of your two hands working
behind me, or your two hands coming before me
in the white mirth of bright drapes, white lengths
the wind sends in salt-light through the feeling
your two hands have in coming to find me.

There are things I liken to crossbeams

inside of things I call politeness, things I liken to superintendence,
seashells, pale hosts of erosions, fadings
I liken to insight. There in the window
of your soloist house, I think that nothing
is holding up

this thought that is feeling you moving.

—Sarah Gridley, from Green is the Orator, UC Press, 2010