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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Griffin Fever

June 3, 2010 | 1:38 PM | By Zoe Whittall

The 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize will be handed out at a ceremony in Toronto this evening. Verse lovers are making bets on who will take home the world’s most lucrative award for a collection of poetry in English. One prize honours a Canadian poet, and another is awarded to an international poet. This year the prize money has increased from $50,000 to $65,000 for both recipients, with each shortlisted author receiving $10,000.

The Canadian shortlist includes debut collection The Certainty Dream by Kate Hall (Coach House Books). The judges wrote in their citation: “I like the feeling her poems give that as we read them we are amidst an actual process of thought.” The book is regarded as a long-shot by some, as a first collection has yet to win a Griffin.

Coal and Roses by the late P.K. Page (Porcupine’s Quill), is a collection of 21 glosas by the iconic poet. “How heartening to be reminded that creativity, zest and curiosity can endure, even flourish, into great old age,” wrote the judges. Page’s collection Planet Earth was nominated for the Griffin in 2003, and some are speculating the 2010 award will go to her in part to honour her considerable life’s work.

Pigeon (House of Anansi Press) is Karen Solie’s third collection of poetry. This is Solie’s second Griffin nomination, and some surmise this one might secure a win. From the judge’s citation: “Among the greatest of Solie’s talents, evident throughout the poems of Pigeon, is an ability to see at once into and through our daily struggle, often thwarted by our very selves, toward something like an honourable life.”

Over a thousand people attended last night’s Griffin readings at the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning. American poet Adrienne Rich was awarded the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award.

The judges for this year’s prize are Anne Carson, Kathleen Jamie, and Carl Phillips.


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