Getting attached

Confronting our emotional support systems

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  • Published 20240507
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-95-5
  • Extent: 203pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

I’LL NEVER FORGET the thrill of reading Philip Larkin’s 1971 poem ‘This Be the Verse’ for the first time. I must have been about twelve – the ideal age to encounter Larkin’s deliciously forthright (and famous) opening line. You know the one: ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad.’ A timeless sentiment, to be sure, and extremely on brand for Larkin, who cultivated a curmudgeonly public persona. And yet ‘This Be the Verse’ wears its pessimism lightly; the passing on of intergenerational failings isn’t intentional, Larkin reminds us, but inevitable, a steadily expanding root system of faults and foibles that simply comes with the territory of being human. 

I thought a lot about this poem in the early days of putting this edition together, and about the ways in which our personalities, families, cultures and histories inflect – sometimes without our conscious knowledge – the bonds we form and the ways in which we keep or break them. More than fifty years after Larkin lamented the emotional inadequacy of generations past, we’ve equipped ourselves with an extensive vocabulary with which to characterise, analyse and diagnose our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the places, objects and ideas that shape our sense of who we are and who we wish to become. Yet still we face the same old set of conundrums: from parasocial connections and fractious family politics to the solace we seek in non-human entities, our myriad attachments continue to offer us comfort and complication in equal measure. Where would we be without them?

THIS EDITION OF Griffith Review attempts to untangle some of these tricky emotional knots. While it’s impossible to survey all the contexts in which our attachments form and grow, this collection nonetheless traces a sprawling lineage of feelings about parents, children, pets, lovers, work, bodies, concepts and communities. It questions our increasing reliance on therapy speak; parses the complexities of connection to place and Country; reveals the intimacies of writing another person’s life; questions the truth of national narratives that occlude unpalatable histories; lifts the curtain on the limits of Method acting; busts some myths about breastfeeding; discovers the healing power of punk; explores the curious allure of other people’s problems; and much, much more.

Special thanks to the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund for their support of our Emerging Voices competition. We’re delighted to feature work by two of our four 2023 winners, Brooke Maddison and Scott Limbrick, in this edition.

‘This Be the Verse’ remains just as resonant in 2024. We’re still passing on our failings and our fears; we’re still loving and hating those close to us and those we’ve never even met; and – luckily for those who work at a literary journal – we’re still writing poems about it. We’re just trying to work it out. In that spirit of contemplation, Attachment Styles is Griffith Review’s small contribution to humanity’s long history of talking about relationships. I like to think we’ve added something extra to the conversation, just for you.

March 2024

Photo credit: Nathan Dumlau from Unsplash

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