Three Canadians have been named to the 10-book nomination long list for the $130,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, in what marks its first year combining its awards for domestic and international poets.
British Columbia poet Susan Musgrave is nominated for her book Exculpatory Lilies (McClelland & Stewart), which includes the poem Postscript, about the death of her 32-year-old daughter Sophie in 2021 to a drug overdose.
University of Alberta professor Iman Mersal’s book The Threshold (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which collects poems in Arabic from Prof. Mersal’s first four books and was translated to English by Robyn Creswell, is also nominated.
Cretan-Canadian poet and translator Manolis Aligizakis, based in Vancouver, received a nomination for his English translation of Greek poet Tasos Livaditis’s Poems, Volume II (Libros Libertad). If a translated book wins the Griffin Prize, 60 per cent is awarded to the translator and 40 per cent goes to the original poet.
The annual Griffin Prize was first handed out in 2001. Books by Dionne Brand, Anne Carson, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Alice Notley, Paul Muldoon and John Ashbery are among the past winners – though Canadians previously competed in their own category. After more than 20 years of offering separate awards, founder Scott Griffin and the prize’s trustees said last September that they would merge the Canadian and international prizes into one.
Doing so doubled the pot for the big prize, making the award one of the world’s most lucrative, but it also meant there would be no stepping-stone for Canadians elbowing their way onto the prestigious nomination list.
In an interview after the announcement, Mr. Griffin told The Globe and Mail that, “In a sense, there is a statement here that’s saying Canadians can hold their own.”
Organizers also said last year that they would, however, offer a new award to Canadians for first books of poetry, with a prize of $10,000 and a six-week Italian residency. That winner was not announced Wednesday.
This year’s prize judges are Macedonia’s Nikola Madzirov, American Natasha Trethewey and Canadian Gregory Scofield. Together, they picked the nominees from a group of 602 books submitted by 229 publishers.
Short-listed finalists will be announced on April 19; those that do not win the final prize will take home $10,000. The final prize will be revealed at a public event at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on June 7.
The other long-listed books are by Joshua Bennett (The Study of Human Life, Penguin Books); Sarah Holland-Batt (The Jaguar, University of Queensland Press); Ada Limón (The Hurting Kind, Corsair Poetry); Sharon Olds (Balladz, Alfred A. Knopf); Warsan Shire (Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, Penguin Canada); and Ocean Vuong (Time is a Mother, Cape Poetry and Penguin Press).
With files from Marsha Lederman
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