2000-2004 Coverage

The following are highlights of media coverage of the Griffin Poetry Prize and its principals from 2000 to 2004, including the launch of the prize.

Note: Some of the links included here require publication subscriptions or registrations.

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November 7, 2004
Talking with August Kleinzahler
Poet and Memoirist
Growing Up Jersey

By Philip Connors

Cutty, One Rock (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $19), which includes the title essay and eight others, many of them also published in the London Review, is an unexpected debut in prose for August Kleinzahler. Known in this country chiefly as a poet, he writes hilariously in Cutty about growing up Jewish in an Italian neighborhood of Fort Lee, N.J., where the school playground “was like a theme park for Tourette’s syndrome.”

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October 30, 2004
BBC Radio 3 – The Verb
with host Ian MacMillan

Margaret Atwood and Robert Bringhurst talk to Ian MacMillan about the Classical Hyda Mythtellers, the native American stories which Atwood describes as ‘An American Iliad’.

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October 30, 2004
Hot ticket: Canadian poets

by Elizabeth Renzetti

LONDON — The Griffin Poetry Prize rolled into London this week, and conquered without even firing a shot. It was a red-carpet greeting for Canadian writers during the Poetry International festival in London. A reading featuring five writers, including Margaret Atwood and Anne Carson, was standing-room only at the Royal Festival Hall, and The Times Literary Supplement commissioned and published poems from four of the poets on the bill.

The reading “is the hot ticket of the festival,” said Scott Griffin, benefactor of the Griffin Prize and a one-man campaign to put poetry at the centre of cultural life. “It will be a significant cut above what else you’ve seen. It really will be the highlight of the festival.”

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July 28, 2004
Deep-Sea Creature
August Kleinzahler never wrote a best-seller. Award-winning poets seldom do.
by Jonathan Kiefer

In person Kleinzahler is more an even and amiable listener than the cranky, judgmental, viciously funny son-of-a-bitch he can be in print.

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July, 2004
The Griffin Poetry Prize 2004

The Ambassador – Canada Cuba Literary Alliance magazine
by Kimberley E. Grove

On Wednesday, June 2, the Cinderella story came to life for the Canadian poetry scene. Instead of the usual small gathering of 20-30 committed poetry fans, the large auditorium at the Edward Johnson building was filled.

El 2 de junio, la historia de Cenicienta se hizo realidad para el panorama de la poesía canadiense. En lugar de la usualmente pequeña reunión de 20 a 30 admiradores comprometidos con la poesía, el gran auditorio del edificio Edward Johnson estaba lleno.

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June 19, 2004
Wanted: verse of distinction
Review of The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology: A Selection of the 2004 Shortlist
by Fraser Sutherland

By now we know which two poets won this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize. From Canadian candidates, the judges – Phyllis Webb and two former national poets laureate, Bill Manhire of New Zealand and Billy Collins of the United States – chose Anne Simpson for Loop, bleak, well-wrought poems about history’s nightmares. Simpson conducts exhumations and postmortems, and tracks the scars of the human record.

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June 16, 2004
Low-profile writer wins lucrative poetry prize
by Claudia La Rocco
The Associated Press

August Kleinzahler, a fiercely independent poet who has never hidden his disdain for the creative writing establishment, was awarded the $29,200 [US] Griffin Poetry Prize earlier this month for his latest collection, “The Strange Hours Travelers Keep.”

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June 4, 2004
U.S. Poet Wins Canadian Poetry Prize
By Colin McClelland
Associated Press Writer

U.S. poet August Kleinzahler has won one of the world’s most prestigious poetry prizes, Canada’s $29,200 Griffin Prize, for his book, “The Strange Hours Travelers Keep.”

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June 4, 2004
Poets Simpson, Kleinzahler share $80,000 Griffin Prize

Two poets – an Atlantic Canadian and an American with a Canadian pedigree – were named winners of the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize in Toronto Thursday evening.

Griffin Prize for Poetry Special with Eleanor Wachtel

Last night, the Griffin Prize honoured outstanding poetry from Canada and elsewhere. Tonight, Eleanor Wachtel brings you highlights from the awards gala, along with the poets and their work, in a one-hour special edition of The Arts Today and Between the Covers.

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June 4, 2004
Two poets scoop Griffin
Cheered by 400 enthusiasts Poetry `coming back in fashion’
by Judy Stoffman

Anne Simpson of Antigonish, N.S., and August Kleinzahler, who lives in San Francisco, split the English-speaking world’s richest poetry prize last night at a gala dinner for 400 hosted at the Distillery District by Toronto philanthropist Scott Griffin.

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June 3, 2004
Nova Scotia poet takes home the Griffin
by Rebecca Caldwell

Nova Scotia poet Anne Simpson was named the Canadian winner of the $40,000 Griffin Poetry Prize for her work Loop, during a raucous ceremony last night in Toronto’s historic Distillery district.

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May 30, 2004
To passion and cash
It’s Griffin Prize week, which marks the arrival of Canada’s true poetry month – see what a bulging wallet can do?
by Noah Richler

June is … now the true “poetry month” in Canada. It is a development attributable in its entirety to the success of the Griffin Poetry Prize, to be awarded Thursday in Toronto. It is actually quite remarkable, what passion and piles of cash can do.

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May 29, 2004
‘A kind of music must occur’
by Rebecca Caldwell

As they prepare to announce the winners of this year’s lucrative Griffin Prize for poetry, judges Bill Manhire, Billy Collins and Phyllis Webb talk to Rebecca Caldwell about the search for a ‘compelling voice,’ and what it’s like to read 40 books of verse a day.

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April 17, 2004
Consider yourself warned
by Clarise Foster

Now You Care, by acclaimed poet and essayist Di Brandt, takes its title from this line in one of the most disturbing pieces in her fifth and most ambitious poetry collection: “Now that it’s much too late/ now you care.”

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April 1, 2004
Windsor poet a finalist for two lit prizes
Makes Trillium, Griffin short lists
Hopes it will fan interest in verse

by Judy Stoffman

Short lists for two major literary prizes were announced yesterday – a lucky day for poet Di Brandt, who was the only one in the running for both the Trillium prize, Ontario’s highest literary honour, and the Griffin prize, the richest poetry award in the world.

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April 1, 2004
… big day for book prizes
by Michael Posner with a report from Ray Conlogue

… Elsewhere, the Griffin Trust, sponsor of the world’s richest prizes for poetry – $80,000 – announced the 2004 nominees.

“I’m shaking,” said Di Brandt, on learning she was one of three nominated for the $40,000 prize given to the Canadian winner. “I’m not good at surprises.”

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March 31, 2004
Short list for Griffin Poetry Prize unveiled

The short list for the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize was announced Wednesday. The organizers of the award, which has a purse of $80,000, bill it as “the most lucrative prize to accept books of poetry from any country in the world.”

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March, 2004
Jet-propelled jaunts
Peter Campion follows the exhilarating leaps of August Kleinzahler’s lively imagination in The Strange Hours Travelers Keep

From the highways of Texas to the quays of Paris, from San Francisco’s Chinatown to the Asiatic steppes: the poems in August Kleinzahler’s latest collection zoom across the map, gaining speed as they go. But there’s seldom any jetlag to this poet’s lines. Travel seems to offer Kleinzahler an array of heightened feeling tones.


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December 4, 2003
The Lion’s Share – Griffin Poetry Prize Pays Big Money

“The first objective is to make the statement that poetry and poets are just as important as novelists,” said Scott Griffin, the founder of the Griffin Poetry Trust, which awards two literary prizes annually for poetry written in English.

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June 21, 2003
Magnificent Muldoon …
by Richard Sanger

Currently professor of poetry at Oxford, Muldoon has long been recognized as the poet of his generation in Ireland and Britain; with his ninth collection winning both the Pulitzer Prize in the United States, where he has lived for 15 years, and, now, the Griffin Prize in Canada, this wonderfully inventive poet is suddenly receiving his due in North America. And for all those who, like me, have, at times, despaired of the kind of poetry celebrated hereabouts, this is good news, for Muldoon deserves all the honours laid at his feet.

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June 21, 2003
… Awesome Avison
by Ken Babstock

If you missed the announcements between then and now, Margaret Avison, one of a small clutch of our living greats, was awarded the Griffin Prize for Excellence in Poetry last Thursday. This volume of new work, Concrete and Wild Carrot, is only her second since a Selected Poems was published in 1991. Avison has already been rightly honoured in her career with two Governor-General’s Awards (1960 and 1989) and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

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June 16, 2003
Poetry in the most public of places
P.K. Page’s publisher figured a billboard would get the message out there
by Tabassum Siddiqui

When P.K. Page was shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize, her publisher wanted to do something big. Very big. So he put up a billboard. Which in this age of advertising wouldn’t be too surprising, except for one thing: It features Page’s book of poetry, Planet Earth.

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June 14, 2003
Griffin navigates poetry prize to prominence
by Sandra Martin

With his double-breasted blazers, open-necked shirts and diffidence, Scott Griffin always looks slightly adrift at the microphone – like a sailor in search of his yacht. But there is nothing “at sea” about the way the Toronto-based entrepreneur has navigated the Griffin Poetry Prizes from oblivion into the forefront of international literary prominence.

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June 13, 2003
Paul Muldoon Wins Griffin Poetry Prize
Associated Press

Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon has won the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection, “Moy Sand and Gravel.” The judges praised “Moy Sand and Gravel” as a “merry dance,” full of stories and cradle songs, nursery rhymes, riddles and prayer.

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June 13, 2003
Poet, 85, scoops Griffin
Margaret Avison first published verse in 1939
She shares $80,000 prize with Irish co-winner

by Judy Stoffman

One of Canada’s senior poets, frail in body but firm of spirit, collected the Griffin poetry prize last night before a rowdy crowd of more than 300 guests at the Stone Distillery, in Toronto’s new entertainment district.

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June 13, 2003
Avison wins world’s largest poetry prize

Margaret Avison, one of Canada’s most celebrated poets, has won the world’s most lucrative prize for poetry.

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June 12, 2003
Experience dominates Griffin shortlist
by Sandra Martin

Men are short on the ground in the celebrations leading up to the $80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize awards in Toronto tonight. Five of the seven nominees and two of the three judges are women. Does that matter? Only if the choices seem meretricious.

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March 28, 2003
Griffin Prize nominees announced
by Sandra Martin

It was not the usual press conference to announce yet another shortlist for yet another literary award. Griffin Prize founder and patron Scott Griffin took to the podium, set up, appropriately enough, in the library bar of the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, and threw out a challenge to the assembled media types in Toronto yesterday.

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March 28, 2003
Locals among poetry finalists
by Judy Stoffman

Three women poets, two of whom have been writing verse since the 1930s, are the Canadian finalists for the English-speaking world’s richest poetry prize.

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March 28, 2003
Lucrative poetry prize an all-woman affair
Griffin short list includes two recipients of Order of Canada
by James Cowan

Order of Canada recipients P.K. Page and Margaret Avison are among the writers shortlisted for the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize, the most lucrative poetry prize in the world.

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March 27, 2003
Brand, Page and Avison shortlisted for Griffin award

Canadian poets Dionne Brand, P.K. Page and Margaret Avison are among this year’s nominees for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

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March 27, 2003
Poetry prize shortlist unveiled
by Allison Lawlor

Canadian poets P.K. Page, Dionne Brand, and Margaret Avison are this year’s three Canadian nominees for the Griffin Poetry Prize.


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June 23, 2002
A Man of Few Vowels
by Judy Stoffman
Arts Reporter

For seven years, Christian Bök was sleep deprived. It took that many years of daily, or rather nightly, perseverance for the young Canadian poet to bring his remarkable work “Eunoia” to fruition.

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June 2, 2002
Griffin wins poetry some attention
Canadian victor is in demand after years of facing ‘indifference’
by Judy Stoffman
Entertainment Reporter

Toronto businessman Scott Griffin, who created the annual Griffin prizes for poetry three years ago, has already accomplished his aim of getting more people to appreciate this exhilarating genre.

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May 31, 2002
Bök captures rich poetry prize
Two Griffin winners walk away with $40,000 each
by Lauren Mechling

Ultra-experimental poet Christian Bök was crowned the winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize last night for his Eunoia, a book of poems in which each chapter is restricted to words of a single vowel.

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May 31, 2002
Christian Bök wins Griffin Prize

Christian Bök was named the Canadian winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize Thursday for his book Eunoia. The prize, which awards $40,000 each to a Canadian and an international poet, was also given to American Alice Notley for Disobedience.

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May 31, 2002
Bök wins rich poetry prize

Christian Bök has captured the Canadian portion of the Griffin Poetry Prize Thursday night for Eunoia, his book of experimental poetry in which every chapter is restricted to words of a single vowel … American Alice Notley took home the $40,000 International Griffin Prize for Disobedience.

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May 31, 2002
Christian Bök wins $40,000 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize for Eunoia
by Anne-Marie Tobin (Canadian Press)

Christian Bök has won the Canadian portion of the Griffin Poetry Prize, worth $40,000, for his unusual book of poems called Eunoia, in which each chapter is restricted to words of a single vowel. The award was bestowed Thursday night at a dinner celebration that brought some of the country’s literary elite, including Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, together in a converted church in the city’s downtown … American Alice Notley was honoured with the $40,000 international Griffin prize – one of the richest in the world of poetry – for Disobedience.

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May 30, 2002
Let the literary playoffs begin
The Griffin is an exception – but most prizes need an overhaul
by Noah Richler

… The Griffin is a prize to be applauded – it brings attention to books we might otherwise have ignored, and, with its lucrative prize money (an almost insanely generous $40,000 in each of its Canadian and International categories), and makes further writing by good authors a more likely proposition.

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May 30, 2002
A poet on the radar
Karen Solie is nominated for tonight’s Griffin Prize for her first book of poetry, Short Haul Engine. She talks to Alexandra Gill about what drives her
by Alexandra Gill

Karen Solie sounds panicky. We’re on the phone trying to determine where to meet in Vancouver. The Victoria-based poet is worried about whether she’ll find her way around the city and where to park her truck. Is this the same poet whose Griffin Prize-nominated debut collection, Short Haul Engine, has been praised for its “ground-breaking” mastery of the Canadian road?

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May 30, 2002
Other Griffin nominees
by Sandra Martin

Poetry may speak to the soul of a nation and its people, as venture capitalist Scott Griffin said when he announced the establishment of the Griffin Poetry Prize two years ago, but its nourishment comes from deep down in his own pockets. An internationalist, Griffin wants to celebrate the best of our homegrown talent and to expose it to wider competition. That’s why he has put more than $2-million of his own money into setting up the two $40,000 annual prizes – one for the best book of poetry published in Canada, and another for the best book published in English anywhere in the world in the previous calendar year.

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March 22, 2002
Three Canadians vie for Griffin award
‘Innovative’ poetry recognized this year
by Gare Joyce

“The judges this year have recognized innovative and experimental works,” Coach House Books editor Darren Wershler-Henry said. “What this country and what poetry doesn’t need is another conservative prize. What they’ve done with the Griffin this year is a promising start.”

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March 22, 2002
Griffin Prize short list announced
The Arts Report

The short list for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize was unveiled Thursday during World Poetry Day celebrations at the National Library.

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March 22, 2002
Griffin Prize short list announced at World Poetry Day readings in Ottawa
Canadian Press

World Poetry Day was celebrated with an evening of readings of poems from Canada and the European Union, and with the announcement Thursday of the Griffin Poetry Prize short list.

The $80,000 poetry prize is in its second year, and includes one international award and one Canadian prize. The short lists were announced at the National Library of Canada during festivities that included a reading of two poems from each of 15 participating countries.

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March 22, 2002
Poet Bok on Griffin shortlist
by Sandra Martin

The unknown, the avant-garde and the established made the $40,000 Canadian shortlist for the second annual Griffin Poetry prizes … Poets from Puerto Rico, Britain, Australia and the United States made the finals for the $40,000 international Griffin prize.

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March 21, 2002
Readings planned for World Poetry Day
Sandra Abma, The Arts Report

Thursday is World Poetry Day, a celebration established by the United Nations in 1999 and officially celebrated in Canada for the first time this year. Poetry readings are scheduled across the country, including a gala reading tonight at the National Library that will bring together poets from Canada and around the world. The National Library events also include the announcement of the Griffin Poetry Prize 2002 shortlist by Chairman Scott Griffin.

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February 2, 2002
Who’s afraid of Anne Carson?
by Sandra Martin

The Canadian poet has won stacks of international prizes, writes Sandra Martin, but she has as many detractors as fans. All this tension is good for poetry …

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July 5, 2001
In the Midst of Losses
by J.M. Coetzee

Coetzee reviews recent translations of the work of Paul Celan, including the work of Griffin Prize winners Nikolai Popov and Heather McHugh on Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan.

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June 18, 2001
Poetry in Motion
A lucrative prize may train the public eye on the most ignored of arts
by John Bemrose

The crowd in the downtown Toronto nightclub was on its feet cheering. The man behind the microphone, 62-year-old industrialist Scott Griffin, attempted to escape the applause with shy ducks of his boyish mop of hair. He was there last week to announce that the evening belonged to the poets, beneficiaries of the Griffin Poetry Prize. But his audience of 300 wasn’t going to forgo the chance to thank the man whose generosity had given Canada its newest and most lucrative literary award.

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June 16, 2001
Poets party hearty
A marginalized art still manages to produce a first-class celebration
by Marni Jackson

The Griffin Poetry Prize, celebrated over two evenings last week, turned out to be the ideal complement to the Giller bash. The more glamorous Giller, like the fiction it honours, has plot, social intrigue and suspense. The faintly more bohemian Griffin – even though the combined $80,000 purse makes it the world’s largest poetry prize – was, like poetry, rich in words, images and a certain kamikaze spirit of risk. I kept thinking that the ghost of the unruly poet Milton Acorn was floating over the room, amused.

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June 8, 2001
Anne Carson wins Griffin Poetry Prize
The Arts Report
CBC Radio

Anne Carson has become the first winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. The award has been given to Carson for her poetry collection Men in the Off Hours.

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June 11, 2001
It’s a good time to be Paul Celan
The poet and poetry itself are celebrated at the Griffin Trust Awards
by Noah Richler
National Post

And the winner is … Paul Celan! … Célan won the gold in one [Griffin Poetry Prize] category, the Internationals, and scored a silver in the other – Anne Carson winning the Canadian section for Men in the Off Hours, but who also wrote an earlier tribute to Célan and another beloved forbearer, the Greek lyric poet Simonides.

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June 8, 2001
Carson wins Griffin Poetry Prize, worth $40,000, at Toronto gala
by Ann-Marie Tobin
Canadian Press

A double-hit of one of the richest prizes for poetry was awarded Thursday night at a gathering that celebrated beautiful turns of phrase in the English language.

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June 7, 2001
Battle of the bards
Two poetry collections will earn $40,000 each tonight, courtesy of a lavish new prize.
by Michael Posner and Sandra Martin

A pair of Canada’s richest literary prizes will be handed out tonight for the first time to one of the country’s most overlooked artistic groups – poets. The inaugural edition of the annual Griffin Poetry Prize – which includes two separate awards of $40,000 each – will be announced at a gala ceremony in Toronto …

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May 1, 2001
Poetry for prisoners: Griffin prize books to go to Corrections Canada
The Arts Report
CBC Radio

The trustees of The Griffin Poetry Prize have come up with a creative way to distribute the hundreds of books submitted for the award.

In the next few months, more than 1,000 volumes of poetry will be donated to prison libraries across Canada.

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April 12, 2001
Griffin Prize founder not upset about leaked shortlist
The Arts Report
CBC Radio

The founder of the new Griffin Poetry Prize says he’s not concerned about the way the shortlist for the award was made public.

Scott Griffin had hoped to announce the list of nominees last night at a gala in Montreal. But the news was leaked to the media yesterday afternoon.

Griffin says the leak was unfortunate. But he believes it’s more important to focus on how the prize has raised the profile of poetry.

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April 7, 2001
We are well-versed
The times may seem prosaic, but in fact, it’s National Poetry Month and the form is blooming
by Sandra Martin

A Toronto venture capitalist named Scott Griffin had so much trouble imagining poetry as an essential component of our public and private lives that last June he put $2-million into a trust fund to establish two annual $40,000 prizes for the best book of poetry published in English in Canada and in the world respectively. “Poetry speaks to the soul of a nation and its people, and these days, at least in North America, it seems to me there is precious little that addresses the soul,” he said at a press conference announcing the Griffin Poetry Prize.

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September 9, 2000
Poetry in motion
by Jaimie Hubbard
National Post

Scott Griffin has the soul of a poet and the pocketbook of an industrialist. The perfect combo to endow one of the world’s largest literary prizes …

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New poetry award among literature’s most lucrative
Griffin Poetry Prize “makes a statement” by eclipsing Giller, G-G’s awards

by Joanne laucius and Steven Mazey
Ottawa Citizen

A one-time Ottawa resident has endowed a new $80,000 poetry prize that will take its place among the richest literary awards in the world. Next June, two poets – one from Canada and one from another country – will each take home $40,000.

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September 7, 2000
Poetry lifted from bottom of “cultural heap”
New prizes worth $80,000
by Finbarr O’Reilly
National Post

A Toronto businessman yesterday announced what is believed to be the largest international prize for poetry in the world, an $80,000 purse for those whom Percy Bysshe Shelley called the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

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September 6, 2000
Canadian philanthropist endows $80,000 poetry prize
by Jennifer Keene
CBC Radio Arts

Canadian poets have a major new prize to call their own.

The Griffin Poetry Prize was launched this afternoon in Toronto. It is worth $80,000 annually. Scott Griffin, a businessman and philanthropist who lives in Toronto, is behind the prize.

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