The poems in John Glenday’s Grain are unassumingly stoic and plainspoken, ranging from wistful and tender to self-deprecating to harrowing (“Song” and “Grain” have, unfortunately, particularly unforgettable images). Even when he jolts the reader, though, all of the work in this succinct volume has a strong underpinning of humanity and wry compassion.
Grain was recently shortlisted for the 2010 International Griffin Poetry Prize. The judges’ citation captures well the essence of this deservingly nominated work:
“[Glenday] listens carefully to the language he works in. [His poems are] also playful: a tin can, a peculiar fish, invented translations, made-up saints all can suggest poems. It’s refreshing to discover a poet whose work is earthly, full of rivers and hills and islands, but where old ideas like ‘love’ and ‘soul’ have not been banished. Grain is the work of an unhurried craftsman; John Glenday has made poems of understated integrity and humanity.”