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The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry announced its shortlist for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize on Wednesday.

The nominees for the organization’s two categories, international and Canadian, were chosen out of 639 books of poetry from 16 different countries. Judges Adam Dickinson from Canada, Valzhyna Mort from Belarus/United States, and Claudia Rankine from Jamaica/U.S. read all of the submissions, which included 57 translations from 24 languages.

The winners will be announced June 15 through the Griffin Trust’s social media channels, and each winner will receive $65,000. The other finalists – three international and two Canadian entries – will be awarded $10,000 each.

The international shortlist is:

Late to the House of Words, Sharon Dolin (translated from the Catalan by Gemma Gorga)

Sharon Dolin.Handout

The translation by Dolin of Late to the House of Words brings together six of Gemma Gorga’s poems, which explore the physical and metaphysical and new ways of understanding the world. Dolin has previously translated Gorga’s Book of Minutes (2019) as well as a memoir, Hitchcock Blonde (2020).

Sho, Douglas Kearney

Douglas Kearney.Bao Phi/Handout

Kearney uses his powerful words to navigate the history of Black vernacular traditions, myths and pop culture. Providing a look at the African-American experience from the inside, Kearney’s book displays his vulnerability and virtuosity.

Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow, Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky (translated from the Ukrainian by Natalia Bilotserkivets)

Ali Kinsella.Handout

Dzvinia Orlowsky.Handout

Natalka Bilotserkivets’s book gathers a selection of poetry from the past 40 years of her career. Bilotserkivets was part of Ukraine’s renaissance during the country’s independence period from Russia. While the landscape of her home country continues to shift, the power of her poetry remains as powerful as ever.

Asked What Has Changed, Ed Robertson

Ed Robertson.Handout

Robertson confronts the dangerous concept regarding the uncertain future of humanity. The themes of social inequality and climate change are woven throughout his works as he explores what it’s like for a species to live on the brink.


The Canadian shortlist is:

Dream of No One But Myself, David Bradford

David Bradford.Handout

Bradford’s book is one of self-understanding, using essayistic lyrics that examine the writer’s own past and the multitude of options for the future. Bradford also recounts family inheritances, trauma through generations and domestic tenderness.

Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, Liz Howard

Liz Howard.Ralph Kolewe/Handout

Liz Howard’s book explores the necessity and danger of living with one another. Combining the knowledge and histories of Western and Indigenous sciences, Howard asks the question: Who do we become after the worst has occurred?

The Junta of Happenstance, Tolu Oloruntoba

Tolu Oloruntoba.Caroline Latona/FranctalStudio/Handout

Oloruntoba’s poetic debut collection explores disease, dis-ease, the immigrant experience and urban/corporate anxiety. Oloruntoba journeys through social injustice with elegance and intelligence as he finds beauty in chaos.

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