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GriffinPrize – Shortlist Announced for World’s Largest Poetry Prize

TORONTO, Ont. – Three past winners of Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Poetry have been shortlisted for the world’s most lucrative prize for verse writers. Last week, the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize finalists were announced, which awards $40,000 (Canadian) to the best single volume of poetry published last year.

P.K. Page’s Planet Earth, Margaret Avison’s Concrete and Wild Carrot, and Dionne Brand’s thirsty will compete for the Canadian prize.

The international shortlist includes Kathleen Jamie’s Mr. And Mrs. Scotland are Dead: 1980-1994, Paul Muldoon’s Moy sand and gravel, Gerald Stern’s American Sonnets: Poems, and C.D. Wright’s Steal Away: Selected and New Poems. The above authors will compete for a separate $40,000 (Canadian) award.

Scott Griffin, who founded the prize three years ago with high-profile authors Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, will announce the winners in Toronto on June 12.

Derek Weiler, news editor of book-trade magazine Quill & Quire says Griffin winners always benefit from a publicity boost, translating to increased sales. He cites the example of last year’s surprise Canadian winner, Christian Bök’s Eunoia, which “was already doing very well.” But since the avant-garde poetry volume won the $40,000 prize, it has exceeded expectations by becoming the fastest-selling book of poetry in Canadian history.

Veterans Page and Avison have already made their imprint in the poetic landscape, both being named to the Order of Canada and winning the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Trinidad-born Brand has also won the latter prize and the Trillium Award for Literature for her 1997 poetry book Land to Light On.

The shortlisted poets will read at Toronto’s Harbourfront Reading Series on June 11 and a selection of the 2003 shortlisted books will comprise The Griffin Poetry Anthology,
available in June.

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