Notes from a bug house bookseller.

I catalogued yesterday the first copy I have handled of Richard Griffin’s The Melancholy Yak [1917]; it is a work that strangely seems less common than a few of his earlier titles, viz. the expanded edition of A Tale of Fraunces’ Tavern A.D. 1765 [1915] . It should perhaps be remarked that by 1917 Griffin was also shepherding the first iteration of his collected verses, Bug House Poetry [1917] through the press, an undertaking well calculated to sap the resources, both financial and artistic, of any poet.

While digging for information on this elusive literary (and totemic) figure for this bookselling concern, I stumbled across this essay on Griffin by poet and translator Bill Zavatsky in the New York journal The Sienese Shredder. Besides serving as a lovely critical introduction to the eccentric work of this poet, the piece sheds some new light on that fact that Griffin likely once trod the boards of the theatres of New York (see also this tantalizing mention in the archives of the New York Times). Zavatsky suggests that, given that Griffin had stored the remainders of his various books at the Lambs’ Club library, perhaps some further clues may rest in the club’s archives.

This latest essay, taken in conjunction with bookseller Eric Korn’s earlier brief survey of Griffin’s work in the TLS in the 1980’s, continues the slow and steady processing of building the more stately mansion of critical esteem that a poet of Griffin’s talent deserves. My hope is that one day the name of the man responsible for such lines as,

Up in the apple tree
There waits your lobster.
Farewell and think of me
Don’t fail your Slobster.

will be on the lips of every truly literate American.

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