C$80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize Launched by Renowned Literary Figures: Margaret Atwood, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young

TORONTO, September 6, 2000 – Canadian writers Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and David Young have joined with American poet Robert Hass and British poet Robin Robertson to announce The Griffin Poetry Prize, one of the largest literary awards for poetry in the world. The Griffin Poetry Prize has been endowed by Toronto-based industrialist and philanthropist Scott Griffin, Chairman of The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.

The C$80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize is divided into two categories: International and Canadian, the prize in each case to be worth C$40,000. Each prize is to be awarded annually for the best book of poetry published in English during the preceding year in the appropriate category. One prize will go to a living Canadian poet, the other to a living poet from any country. Collections of poetry translated into English from other languages are also eligible, and will be assessed for their literary quality in English.

In addition, Massey College at the University of Toronto will be arranging a two-month “Poet-in-Residence” programme as part of The Griffin Poetry Prize. This will provide the winning poets with full access to the college facilities and an entrée into Toronto’s vibrant literary communities.

The Griffin Trust, which administrates the annual Griffin Poetry Prize, was created to serve and encourage excellence in poetry written in English anywhere in the world. A Canadian initiative, The Griffin Trust was founded in April, 2000 by Scott Griffin, its Chairman, with Trustees Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace), Robert Hass, US Poet Laureate 1995-97 (An Unnamed Flowing, Field Guide), Michael Ondaatje (Anil’s Ghost, The English Patient), Robin Robertson (A Painted Field) and David Young (Inexpressible Island, Glenn). A panel of three judges will be selected annually by these Trustees.

The Griffin Trust is proud to announce the judges for the year 2000: Carolyn Forché (US), Dennis Lee (Canada), and Paul Muldoon (Ireland). The judges will select a shortlist of books that best represent excellence in English language poetry, both in Canada and around the world. The shortlisted finalists will be announced in April, 2001, and will be invited to Toronto to give public readings in June. The first annual Griffin Poetry Prize will be awarded at a gala dinner in June, 2001.

To be eligible, a book of poems must be published in English in a print run of no fewer than 500 copies in the calendar year of submission. Submissions must originate directly from publishers, to a maximum of three books per publisher.

Says Scott Griffin, who conceived and established the trust, “Poetry, one of the purest of art forms, is in retreat. It is hoped that The Griffin Trust will help to reverse this trend and inspire poets and the public alike.”

Margaret Atwood concurs, “I am very pleased to have been able to help with the inception of this important prize. Poetry is at the heart of language; it’s good to see it given the recognition it deserves.”

The Griffin Trust intends to assist publishers and booksellers in the promotion of shortlisted poets and their work through marketing and advertising initiatives. In this respect it is hoped that The Griffin Poetry Prize will help to bring poets and their work back into the mainstream of our cultural life.

The Griffin Trust has been formed with an initial capital endowment of C$2-million, the interest from which will fund the granting of the annual poetry prizes.

Further information from:

Prudence Emery, Publicity Director
Telephone: (905) 565-5993
Email: press@griffinpoetryprize.com

See also: Griffin Poetry Prize Launch

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