A new full-length book entitled “Crossing the River” by local poet Dr. Bill Griffin is slated for release at the end of the month. Griffin has had several short collections of his poems published but will be his first full-length book of poetry. Griffin said “Crossing the River” includes poetry he has written over a 20-year time span.
Griffin has been writing poetry for about 20 years now. He said he has gone to workshops and read lots of poetry to help hone his skill at the craft
Other collections of his poetry include “Little Mouse” and “Snake Den Ridge,” which features illustrations done by Griffin’s wife.
Griffin, an Elkin resident, has worked as a family doctor in Jonesville since 1981. His daily trek across the bridge from his home to his office was the inspiration for the title “Crossing the River.” He referenced the old adage, “you can’t step in the same river twice.” Not only does the flowing of the water change the river moment by moment, but the person crossing the river also changes over time, Griffin said. That concept has inspired many of the poems in the new book.
“We’re always changing, hopefully we’re learning something, hopefully we’re discovering something, so some of the poems are just about maybe a little glimpse of some idea or revelation. Some of them are little bits and pieces of people’s life stories,” Griffin said. “The poems are about people and change, but also about constancy and kind of the constant thing is the place. Our place here is definitely one of the characters in the poems.”
The area of the Yadkin Valley that Griffin calls home serves as the setting for nearly all of the poems in the book.
The title poem of the book, Griffin said he wrote especially for the publication and it ties all the other poems together. He said the old bridge that once connected Elkin and Jonesville is one of the characters featured in the title poem.
The cover art for the book was designed by Griffin’s niece, April Bleakney, using photographs of the former high bridge in Elkin.
“The other inspiration, as a family doctor, one of my main tasks is just to listen, listen to people,” Griffin said.
By listening to his patients and connecting with them, he has found himself inspired.
In today’s world of fast-paced sound bites and short tweets of communication, poetry is something Griffin said can offer more connection, but it requires participation as well.
“To get something from a poem, to receive whatever gift it has to give, the reader also has to give — attention, curiosity, imagination, thought. Reading a poem takes a degree of commitment. So if the poem is a key, the reader is the hand that turns it in the lock,” he said.
“Crossing the River” is slated for publication by Main Street Rag Publishing Company later this month. The book will for $14, but can be ordered now for $8 by placing an advance discount order at the MSR Online Bookstore at https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=crossing-the-river-bill-griffin.
Griffin said he hopes to plan a reading and book signing event at the Elkin Library once the book is out.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.