UpStart is a non-profit voluntary arts collective.

Published: 2433 days ago

Interview with Sarah Maria Griffin

Tell me a litle bit about yourself.
I come from Dublin but I am currently living in Galway where I’m doing an MA in writing. I am a poet, mostly, although I’m working on a few other projects at the moment. My first collection Follies is coming out soon.

How have you heard about UpStart?
I used to go along to Wurm im Apfel which is a spoken words night run by Kit Fryatt, and it was through her I heard about the initiative. They were looking for poets to take part of the poster campaign. I sent one of my poems in andit was accepted. It is up near Jervis Street at the moment. I also performed at a recent UpStart fundraiser — the poetry and wrestling night.

It must feel strange to see your work out there in the street?
Yes, but it also feels great. You have to remember that this might be the first poem that people have read this week, this month, this year and it is fantastic to be part of that.

Do you think it is important to encourage a debate on the role of the arts in Ireland?
Oh absolutely. It is part of our culture and always has been and the current climate has encouraged creativity. Every single month there are so many nights where people put on spoken word shows and storytelling nights in Dublin, it has created a huge revival of that kind of culture. I think with the way things have gone, arts have taken a new place in people’s heart.

What about funding?
Most people I know who run those nights aren’t funded but they still do it any way because it isn’t about that, it is about loving what we do.

How long have you been writing?
Since I could hold a pen, so pretty much all my life.

Is there something in particular that triggered writing for you?
As you change from a teenager into an adult, a lot of things also change in your world, the way you look at the world, at people and the way they look at you. That for me, was really what pushed me into writing. Nothing is ever still, not even for a moment. Ever!  There is so much going on all the time, between people and outside, everywhere, I feel I have to track it.

Who are your favorite poets?
e.e. cummings wrote wonderful poetry on nature. Although I wouldn’t be inspired by nature I feel his use of the language pulled something out of me that nobody else has before. I discovered him through the film maker Woody Allen.  Th poetry featured in one of my favourite films,  Hannah and her Sisters, and that led me to e.e. cummings. On the other end of the scale, I also really like Charles Bukowski. e.e. cummings had an huge influence on Bukowski. He was the complete opposite of him, drinking, smoking, hating women…but what they shared in common was an identical visual style. Those two poets mean an awful lot to me but in terms of Ireland, people like Rita Ann Higgins had a huge influence on me.

What do you write about?
I write about being young. I write about being twenty-three. That’s all I know about. Finishing college, people moving away, having a partner. I write about my life with him and the not-so-fashionable notion of wanting to settle down.

So I believe you are working on other projects as well?
I have written a 1000-word short story which I think could be expanded. It has the potential to become a very long and interesting journey but it is hard to maintain stamina for long things, especially when the longest poem I had ever written  was a page and a half long!  Then you suddenly find yourself facing into writing 52 000 words, it can be a bit daunting. I’m also working on a screenplay called Sleep Skips my Heart based on a song called “Narcolepsy” by Ben Folds. It is going to be produced this week in NUI (Galway) on two nights as part of the Jerome Hynes one act series.

I wish you good luck with the writing and once again thank you for meeting up with me.

For more details on Sarah Maria Griffin, check out her blog:

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