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This review is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Cover of The Attitudes
Jazmine LinklaterPoised for Prayer
The Attitudes, Katie Griffiths (Nine Arches Press) £9.99
In Katie Griffiths’ ambitious debut The Attitudes individual poems take on the weird, commonplace mixture of faith, flesh, life, doubt and death, while a number of longer sequences interweave throughout the collection. Griffiths’ speakers assume various attitudes – physical and psychological – trying them on like outfits to compare in the dressing room mirror. It’s a book made of things side-by-side, grappling with binaries to tease out their broader complexities. Under pressure are the mind and body; the tangible and metaphysical; real and illusive.  

Many poems are written in two sections or short couplets. The title poem, for example, rewrites the biblical Beatitudes. Emulating those familiar couplets, Griffiths’ version feels more mythical, populated by seemingly ancient and mysterious characters including ‘earthmongers’, ‘soulscammers’ and ‘waterstabbers’. None here are blessed, and their various states are often the consequences of their own actions: ‘Torrid are those who amass / for their trinkets will devour’. The poem operates as a sort of contents list, introducing characters who reappear later in the collection across a scattered sequence of expanded portraits. These poems oscillate through complex relationships. ‘Moonbather’, for example, ‘wants to feel sorry for / you feeling sorry for her // and all the light you fail to exchange’, but later, when she ‘becomes moonlogged’ grows ‘innermost and full of retraction’. Griffith’s strangely emphatic symbology is most arrestingly developed in ‘Scargazer’, where ‘Scar’ is ‘suave as a flick, / clean as a plunge’, evoking disturbing images of self-harm. But her rhythm and syntax beguile: ‘see how easily / my arms went Scar / my back ...


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