Ever since he was a child sitting in the back of his parents’ car, Jeff Griffin has been taking explorative journeys into the desert. In 2007, as an art student, he started wandering the back roads of the Mojave Desert with the purpose of looking for a place to reflect in the harshly beautiful surroundings. What he found were widely scattered postmodern ruins—abandoned trailers and campers and improvised structures—whose vanished occupants had left behind, in their trash, an archaeological record of astonishing richness and poignancy.
Lost and is both a chronicle of Griffin’s obsessive journeying and a portal into a world of dispossessed people and enduring desires. Comprised entirely of unaltered reproductions of extraordinary found materials—drawings, charts, questionnaires, compulsively detailed letters, legal documents, jottings, journal entries, stunningly vivid and mysterious photographs—this is a work of sociological and literary daring that defies categorization. Part documentary history, part literary adventure, part mystical detective story, Griffin’s immersion in extremity has yielded wrenching annals of the modes and manners in which lost people inscribe their psychic, sexual, religious, and economic yearnings.
At the core of the work is a collection of poems, mostly handwritten and composed without pretense to literary sophistication, that give direct expression to the abiding impulse to tap language’s transformative potential. Assembled with deep regard for the dignity of its collective group of anonymous authors, Lost and is a book of profound conceptual originality—an engrossing, shocking, and tender work of art that strives to awaken voices from the wilderness of the inexpressible.
"Jeff Griffin scours the deserts of California and Nevada for artifacts—poems, photos, letters—discarded by lost souls who live in desolation. With Lost and, he arranges these sad, exhilarating, heavy voices into a stunning chorus, and he makes poetry out of pain. I’ve never read anything like Lost and. This is a wildly ingenious debut collection from an artist who has found a way to turn damaged lives into objects of wonder and beauty."—Don Waters, author, Desert Gothic
"In Lost and, Jeff Griffin offers found objects—mysteriously discarded photographs, notes, letters, and poems, often damaged and barely legible—that document the lives of people living in the deserts of the American West. With these documents, through which we feel the mysterious and fragmentary nature of the way lives are lived and forgotten, Griffin creates a physical and psychological landscape that is suffused with a powerful sense of the Uncanny. This book is a collage more strange and disturbing than the strangest work of the surrealists. Its cumulative effect is mysterious, often humorous, and ultimately heartbreaking—but never patronizing. Lost and is a riveting book of poetry—it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it verges on the miraculous."—Geoffrey Nutter, author, Christopher Sunset
"The reality of Lost and is distressing, discomforting, extraordinarily private, hauntingly familiar, and deeply moving. Its voices cut to the root of the poetic impulse: the need to write ourselves into the world, the risk we take in every attempt to record the facts of our existence, and our hope that someone is listening."—Jonathan Thirkield, author, The Waker's Corridor