Green is the Orator follows on Sarah Gridley’s brilliant first collection, Weather Eye Open, in addressing the challenge of representing nature through language. Gridley’s deftly original syntax arises from direct experience of the natural world and from encounters with other texts, including the Egyptian "Book of the Dead” and the writings of Charles Darwin, Peter Mark Roget, William Morris, William James, and Henri Bergson. Gridley’s own idiom is compressed, original, and full of unexpected pleasures. This unusual book, at once austere and full of life, reflects a penetrating mind at work--one that is thinking through and re-presenting romantic and modernist traditions of nature.
The windmill's labor is contingent upon the weather, upon what air masses, at any given time, overlie its landscape. Anticipatory in mood, Weather Eye Open adopts the emblem of the windmill, seeking what Merleau-Ponty calls the "inspiration and expiration of Being." The windmill serves as analogue to the perceiving subject, to the poet, whose consciousness, though rooted and partial, is yet always receptive to being energized, turned. Like open sails, the perceiver ushers the weather indoors, converting one motion, the wind, to another, the grinding burrstones. The poems in this collection pursue a similar transmutation through language, a staying open to its various weather (and whether) systems. For Sarah Gridley, language strikes at the "X" of experience: part presence and part absence, part spirit and part matter, part home and part homesickness, part harnessed and part wild. In the face of such weather, the stance of the poet is both rapacious and passive, searching and struck still.
The word loom calls us to the edges, perhaps even limits, of life—to what appears as the space and means of creation—and to what appears on that horizon, soliciting reflection and response. In Sarah Gridley’s third collection of poems, the word serves as emblem and omen, as signal object of meditation. At the loom—and looming—is The Lady of Shalott—poetic specter of Tennyson’s surfaced—and silenced—anima. Trusting in the deep ambiguities of text and textile, spirit and matter, masculine and feminine, Loom calls the Lady back to life, out of isolation, circumscription, and distraction. A book of poems set against the work of disconnection, Loom searches for reconstructions of gender, dwelling, and the sacred.