Presenting the Griffin Poetry Prize 2019 Winners

TORONTO – Thursday, June 6, 2019 – Autobiography of Death by Don Mee Choi, translated from the Korean written by Kim Hyesoon (New Directions) and Quarrels by Eve Joseph (Anvil Press) are the International and Canadian winners of the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize. They each received C$65,000 in prize money.

The Griffin Poetry Prize was founded in 2000 to serve and encourage excellence in poetry. The prize is for first edition books of poetry written in, or translated into, English and submitted from anywhere in the world.

The 2019 Shortlist

The 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist features four International and three Canadian poetry collections:

International Shortlist

The Perseverance • Raymond Antrobus
Penned in the Margins

Lake Michigan • Daniel Borzutzky
University of Pittsburgh Press

Autobiography of Death • Don Mee Choi, translated from the Korean written by Kim Hyesoon
New Directions

Negative Space • Ani Gjika, translated from the Albanian written by Luljeta Lleshanaku
Bloodaxe Books

Canadian Shortlist

The Blue Clerk • Dionne Brand
McClelland & Stewart

Quarrels • Eve Joseph
Anvil Press

The Art of Dying • Sarah Tolmie
McGill-Queen’s University Press

The 2019 Judges

The awards ceremony, attended by some 320 invited guests, was held in the Fermenting Cellar in The Distillery Historic District. Scott Griffin, founder of the prize, and trustees Mark Doty, Carolyn Forché, Marek Kazmierski, Jo Shapcott, Karen Solie, Ian Williams and David Young hosted the event where the guests enjoyed readings by Nicole Brossard, The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry’s 2019 Lifetime Recognition Award recipient, and a recitation of the poem “Star Gazer” by Dominique Christina, by Catricia Hiebert, a 2019 national winner of Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie.

The judges for the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize are Ulrikka Gernes (Denmark), Kim Maltman (Canada) and Srikanth Reddy (US). These distinguished writers and poets each read 510 books of poetry, received from 32 countries around the globe, including 37 translations. The trustees of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry select the judges annually.

The 2019 Shortlist Readings

On June 5 the poets read excerpts from their books at the Shortlist Readings to an audience of 1,000 people, in Toronto in Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. Trustee Karen Solie presented each poet with a leather-bound edition of their book and $10,000 for their participation in the Readings.

The 2019 Lifetime Recognition Award Recipient

During the shortlist readings evening, The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry’s 2019 Lifetime Recognition Award was presented to Nicole Brossard. Poet, novelist and essayist, twice Governor General’s Award winner for poetry, she has published more than thirty books since 1965. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, chevalière of the National Order of Quebec, and a member of l’Académie des lettres du Québec. Her work has been widely translated into English and Spanish, and is also available in many languages, including German, Italian, Japanese, Slovenian, Romanian, Norwegian, Catalan, and Portuguese.

Trustee Carolyn Forché paid tribute to Nicole Brossard and presented her with the award.

The 2019 Anthology

Each year The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology features the work of the extraordinary poets shortlisted for the awards and introduces us to some of the finest poems in their collections. The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2019, edited by Kim Maltman and published by House of Anansi Press, is now available at most retail bookstores and online.

The 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize anthology has been released in print and digital braille versions. Learn more from House of Anansi Press and the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS).

For further information

Please direct other inquiries as follows:

Media Inquiries:
Melissa Shirley
Telephone: (647) 389-9510

General Inquiries:
Ruth Smith, Executive Director
Telephone: (905) 618-0420

Shortlist summary, poet bios and citations

Download press release, poet bios and citations

Download photos

Purchase 2019 Griffin Prize Anthology and shortlist books online