Book Review: “Because the Light Will Not Forgive Me: Essays from a Poet” by Shaun T. Griffin

An outstanding book in so many ways.

I met the author of this book at the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame event in December 2023, when Megan received her Silver Pen Award. Shaun is the chair of Nevada Humanities which is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities and provides funding and programming for authors and artists throughout Nevada. He is also the author of fourteen books, he has translated three others and edited four anthologies. His work has been honored in a number of literary awards and he is a gifted and insightful poet.

The collection of essays, in this book, Because the Light Will Not Forgive Me: Essays from a Poet were written between 2009 and 2018. There is a lyrical quality to all of his prose that makes me think of music, being sung, when I read the essays. The first section of the book shares experiences that most of us living in Nevada will recognize as being from our “home turf.” From wildfires to the stories about life lived in the Great Basin, his essays have the profound power of being both familiar and exotic at the same time.

But there was much in this book that was new to me. I was not familiar with the poetry of Joanne de Longchamps or Carolyn Kizer and I am grateful for the introduction. And it was very interesting learning more about the work of Hayden Carruth and the role that Shaun played in supporting him in the later stages of his life. I think the unexpected and wondrous parts of this book reflect Shaun’s work as a poet in Ireland, Chile, South Africa and his leadership in poetry workshops at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, Nevada.

You will be pleased that Shaun T. Griffin in a Nevadan and creating such monumental works. It was a joy to read this book.


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