Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 Griffin Poetry Prizes

The 12th annual Griffin Poetry Prizes were recently awarded. Sponsored by the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, the prize is the most generous of it's kind. The winners each receive $65,000 in recognition of their talent and contributions to the world of poetry.

By funding the Griffin Poetry Prize - the world's largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in, or translated into English, from any country in the world - the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry aims to spark the public's imagination and raise awareness of the crucial role poetry plays in our cultural life.

The 2012 winners are:

Canadian category:

Methodist Hatchet (M)
by Ken Babstock

"Babstock is the live wire in the gene pool: stirring things up, rocking boats, disjoining easier conjunctions, jolting the culture’s DNA. From sea-and-skyscapes literally lettered, from the suspect core of our ‘d├ęcors? (‘lost heart’ informs that fashion’s stock and trade), he winds past mere mundanities to find the world again, with words for his divining wands." - excerpt from Judge's citation

"Marooned in the shiftless, unnamed space between a map of the world and a world of false maps, the poems in Methodist Hatchet cling to what's necessary from each, while attempting to sing their own bewilderment. Carolinian forest is echoed back as construction cranes in an urban skyline. Second Life returns as wildlife, as childhood. Even the poem itself - the idea of the poem - as a unit of understanding is shadowed by a great unknowing. Fearless in its language, its trajectories and frames of reference, Methodist Hatchet gazes upon the objects of its attention until they rattle and exude their auras of strangeness. It is this strangeness, this mysterious stillness, that is the big heart of Ken Babstock's playful, fierce, intelligent book." - publisher

International category:

Night
(M)
by David Harsent

"David Harsent conducts an examination of the human psyche that is unique in both the unflinchingness of its gaze, and the fabular metaphors it uses to explore dream, terror and hidden impulse. Truly significant poets write like no-one else, and Harsent is both sui generis and unsurpassed. " - excerpt from Judge's citation

"Among the poems that open Night, David Harsent's follow-up to his Forward Prize-winning collection Legion, is a startling sequence about a garden - but a garden unlike any other. It sets the tone for a book in which the sureties of daylight become uncertain: dark, unsettling narratives about what wakes in us when we escape our day-lit selves to visit a place where the dream-like and the nightmarish are never far apart. The book culminates in the seductive and brilliantly sustained Elsewhere, a noirish, labyrinthine quest-poem in which the protagonist is drawn ever onward through a series of encounters and reflections like an after-hours Orpheus, hard-bitten and harried by memory" - publisher

Lifetime Recognition Award:

Seamus Heaney (M)

"Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature `for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth', was honoured with The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry's 2012 Lifetime Recognition Award at this evening's Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings event. Trustee Robin Robertson paid tribute to Seamus Heaney and presented him with his award. The announcement was met with great enthusiasm and applause from the house.

Scott Griffin commented "Seamus Heaney's acceptance of the Lifetime Recognition Award brings great honour and prestige to the Griffin Poetry awards." Griffin Poetry Prize

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