Saturday, February 02, 2008
Bill Griffiths and Lollipop
Bill Griffiths died in September 2007.
The obit in the Newcastle Journal describes him as a poet, Ango-Saxon [sic] scholar and champion of North-East dialects. Nicholas Johnson in the Independent has him down as an experimental poet fascinated by the dialect and history of north-east England. William Rowe in the Guardian describes him as a poet, scholar, translator, pamphleteer and publisher.
The Times Online goes further and tells us that he was not only a gifted poet, publisher and Anglo-Saxon scholar but also an accomplished book designer, small press publisher, biker, houseboat owner, pianist, archivist and social historian.
My own contacts with Bill came about initially through the Association of Little Presses. He was the editor of PALPI, a magazine that listed publications by members of ALP. We exchanged publications, and I reviewed some of his poetry and dialect pamphlets in New Hope International. I also recall meeting him at some of the Small Press Poetry Conventions that were held in the 80s and 90s.
In the late 90s there were problems with ALP and, as I recall, it drifted into oblivion rather than being officially wound-up. Whatever happened, what followed was the creation of the Lollipop: List of Little Press Publications, an internet listing opportunity open to little presses of the U.K., free of charge. It was inaugurated by Bill Griffiths, Bob Trubshaw, and Peter Finch, in March 2000.
Peter Manson has now re-launched Lollipop at http://llpp.ms11.net/ as a tribute to Bill, and will continue his work in support of small press publishing in the UK.
Bill's own website is still accessible. It contains a wealth of material, poetry, art, articles on dialect and social history. It is hoped that the majority of it will find a place somewhere before the plug is pulled on the site.
There is a great deal of information about Bill on Tom Raworth's memorial pages from where these pictures have been taken with permission.
There is also an excellent personal memoir and critique on David Caddy's Poetic Letters From England.
The photograph below is by John Seed and was taken in September 2004