June 02, 2006

Poetry Friday I: The Griffin Prize for Excellence in Poetry

It's not often I get to report poetry news, and glamorous poetry news at that. Yesterday it was announced that,
"Kamau Brathwaite and Sylvia Legris are the International and Canadian winners of the sixth annual Griffin Poetry Prize. [Legris won for Nerve Squall and Brathwaite for Born to Slow Horses.] The C$100,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, the richest prize in the world for a single volume of poetry, is divided between the two winners. The prize is for first edition books of poetry, including translations, published in English in 2005, and submitted from anywhere in the world. ...

"More than 400 guests celebrated the awards, including former Governor-General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, acclaimed Canadian actors Albert Schultz and Sarah Polley, Senator Jerry Grafstein and his wife Carol, among others. In addition, poets, publishers and other literary luminaries attended the celebration.

The evening's theme was Shangri-La and featured a silk route marketplace replete with banners of fuschia, purple and gold. Hundreds of pigmy orchids and butterflies in a dizzying array of colours adorned the room. The event, which took place at The Stone Distillery in Toronto, offered up a menu of decidedly Asian fusion cuisine. Appetizers included mango and Thai basil sushi rolls, deep-fried plantain, sweet corn tamales, crab cakes on a bed of remoulade, and a sweet potato and jicama salad. The main course featured seared strip loin of beef with a mini risotto wild rice pancake and for dessert, a chocolate fountain with assorted sweets."
And a tidbit even more interesting than the mango and Thai basil sushi rolls: "As in past years, copies of the submitted poetry books are being donated to Corrections Canada."

Griffin Poetry Prize Trustees include Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, and the Griffin Trust was created to serve and encourage excellence in poetry written in English anywhere in the world.

Believe it or not, tickets for the Griffin Poetry Prize short-list readings this past Wednesday were sold out. The Griffin website has a number of nice features, including "See and Hear Poetry" from Griffin shortlists and winners; a selection of poets' blogs; and a long list of related links.

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