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The Griffin Poetry Prize launched itself into the literary stratosphere today when the founder, Scott Griffin, announced that the prize money is doubling from $100,000 to $200,000 - a permanent change designed to mark the prize's 10th anniversary.

The prize is given annually in two categories: Canadian and International. The increased prize money means that the winner in each category will receive $65,000, making it the most lucrative poetry prize in the world.

As well, each nominated poet, including the eventual winners, will now receive $10,000, which means the grand total for winning the prize is now $75,000. Last year's winners each received $50,000.

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Griffin announced the new prize money just before unveiling this year's two shortlists. On the Canadian list are:

  • Karen Solie, for Pigeon (House of Anansi)
  • P.K. Page, for Coal and Roses (The Porcupine's Quill)
  • Kate Hall, for The Certainty Dream (Coach House Books)

P.K. Page is a posthumous nomination; the winner of the Governor-General's Award for Poetry in 1954 died in January of this year.

For Kate Hall, a Montreal writer, the nomination recognizes a debut collection, a rare achievement for a poet.

Karen Solie, who lives in Toronto, was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2002 for her debut, Short Haul Engine.

In the International category, the nominees are:

  • Grain, by Scottish poet John Glenday (Picador)
  • A Village Life, by American poet Louise Glück (FSG)
  • The Sun-fish, by Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Press)
  • Cold Spring in Winter, by French poet Valérie Rouzeau, translated by Susan Wicks (Arc)

Scott Griffin, speaking after the announcements, told reporters the decision to double the prize money came from a desire to increase the award's international visibility. "We're very keen to make an impact on the international market," he said.

"Most poetry prizes are limited to national markets, and we well feel poetry crosses borders. We feel it's very important for Canadian poets to mix and be interactive with international poets."

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Griffin said it wasn't his goal to make the Griffin Poetry Prize the most generous poetry prize in the world, but rather, "to make a statement that poetry is really important."

The seven finalists will be invited to read from their nominated works at an event in Toronto on June 2. The prizes will be handed out the next night.

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